GED Jitters – The Director’s Cut

I’m briefly quoted in this article on the GED, and so I thought I’d share a few more thoughts as to why I think it’s reasonable to be concerned that the revision to the test this time around is different from past revisions.

The first point, which is in the article, is that this time the switch was made under a significantly weaker adult education system, at least in terms of funding. While everyone in adult education, from the state directors to the programs directors, have been doing their usual heroic work and are adjusting to the new test(s), the fact is that federal funding for adult education has dropped by 25% since 2002. Enrollment numbers in federally funded adult education programs have been dropping accordingly over that time.

Secondly, while it may turn out that the situation will improve over the next year or two—as has been the case after previous revisions—the disruption this time has been significantly more complicated than in the past. First, there was a significant cost increase, and second, the GED test itself has become computer only. And two new tests came onto the market in addition to the GED. We actually have no precedent for changes of this magnitude or complexity.

Thirdly, while everyone is still in the process of adjusting to these changes, the adult education system itself is embarking on significant overhaul this year, as WIOA implementation gets underway. This will put further strain on the limited resources available to the field, particularly in professional development.

Most importantly—and I wish this particular point had made it into the article—while I agree with others that there is no need to panic, I don’t think it’s good enough to cross our fingers and hope for the best. This time we should be carefully studying the situation as it continues to unfold, and develop strategies to avoid such disruptions in the future. The test will be revised again in another decade or so. I continue to be flummoxed as to why huge drop-offs in test-takers and passers should ever be the norm. Let’s figure out how to make this not happen anymore.