A Call to End the GED in New York

Thomas Hilliard, a Senior Fellow in Workforce Development Policy at the Center for an Urban Future, thinks the revamped GED, scheduled to launch in January, 2014, “could be a disaster for New York.” In a commentary published by the Times Union on July 17th, Hilliard notes that the state of New York as yet to come up with a plan to address the increased cost of the test or provide for an alternative:

The GED Testing Service, which has long administered the GED, announced plans to revamp the test to ensure that anyone who passed it would be ready for college-level coursework. This is understandable given the premium on college credentials in today’s economy. But as it set out to create a new test, the GED’s stewards decided to enter into a partnership with Pearson LLC, the world’s largest educational publisher. Pearson took over leadership of the GED Testing Service, and in May 2012 announced plans to raise the price of the GED to $120, effectively doubling its cost to New York state.

The increase is particularly troublesome because New York state bars the charging of a fee to take the GED and pays the full costs of testing out of the state budget—roughly $2.7 million last year. Unless the state doubles its expenditure—an unlikely prospect—the number of test slots for people to take the GED could fall by half, from 45,000 to 22,500.

As a result, New York could easily lose thousands of GED holders a year, a damaging blow to the state’s economic competitiveness and the job prospects of low-income youth and adults.

Hilliard concludes his piece by calling on New York State policymakers to drop the GED altogether: “It’s time for the state to end its partnership with the GED and give New Yorkers an alternative high school equivalency exam—preferably one that is less expensive but every bit as accepted by employers and colleges as the GED.” While acknowledging that the state has begun exploring alternative tests, he implores them to step up their efforts, noting that “time is running out” to establish an alternative by the end of 2013.

In related news, New York City’s unemployment rate climbed to 10 percent in June.

Lack of ESOL Services in New York State Hurting Their Economy

As noted in the New York Times yesterday, the Center for an Urban Future has just issued a report that found the demand for ESOL classes across the state of New York rapidly accelerating in recent years, while the availability of classes has decreased. The report says that state funding for ESOL programs in New York has dropped every year since 1995.

The report frames this issue in economic terms. The authors say that “increasing English instruction capacity would almost certainly yield benefits for the state economy,” and that the failure of the state to meet the demand for ESOL services “threatens the state’s ability to tap the skills of immigrant entrepreneurs and workers to strengthen local economies.”