Politico Describes the Revamped GED as a Potential “Cash Cow” for Testing Companies

More eye-popping language about new GED, this time from Politico (“Testing companies see cash cow in revamped GED“):

High school dropouts seeking a diploma will soon face a brand new exam system that will demand more skills from them—and yield more profits for testing companies.

The traditional GED exam, administered for more than 70 years by the nonprofit American Council on Education, will be replaced on Thursday by a buffet of options from three testing companies, two of them global for-profit firms. The new exams are all meant to better prepare students for the modern workforce. But they differ dramatically in price, length and—at least initially—in degree of difficulty.

It was amusing to think of anything related to adult education being considered a “cash cow,” so I was glad to see that the article noted the substantial reduction in federal funding for adult education since the mid-2000s. The piece also provides some interesting details about the process (and the players) which led to the GED change:

The American Council on Education has traditionally updated the exam every decade or so to keep pace with the curriculum of modern high schools. When that process began again a few years ago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided a grant for the council to hire the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit consulting firm.

Bridgespan advocated a completely new approach: The exam should be given online instead of on pencil and paper; it should demand more algebra and more analytical thinking; it should include more open-response questions and fewer multiple choice. And it should be aligned with the Common Core academic standards now being rolled out in K-12 classrooms nationwide.

The council didn’t have the money for such a dramatic rewrite, so it decided to team up with testing giant Pearson to create a joint venture known as the GED Testing Service, according to CT Turner, a spokesman for the venture.