The pushback comes as GED Testing Service prepares to introduce a new version of the exam in January. In the first revamp since for-profit Pearson Vue Testing acquired a joint ownership interest in the nonprofit Washington-based GED Testing Service, the cost of the test is doubling to $120. That’s led to a case of sticker shock for test takers, nonprofits and states. Some states subsidize some or all of the expense of the exam, while others add an administrative fee. The new GED test would cost $140 to take in Missouri if the state sticks with it.
Kirk Proctor, of the Missouri Career Center, said the organization is looking for a way to cover the increased test cost for students participating in a GED preparation and job training program he oversees.
“A lot of them are just barely making it,” he said. “Transportation is a challenge. Eating is a challenge. For them, coming up with $140 for an assessment, it’s basically telling them, ‘Forget about ever getting this part of your life complete.’ “
Developers say the new version is needed because nearly all states are adopting tougher math and reading standards to ensure students are prepared for college and careers. Because the new version is so different, a million or so adults who have passed some but not all of the five parts of the current GED test must complete the missing sections by Dec. 31. If not, their scores will expire and they’ll have to begin again under the new program Jan. 1.
“The GED was in dangerous position of no longer being a reflection of what high schools were graduating,” said Randy Trask, president and CEO of GED Testing Service, which previously was solely operated by the nonprofit American Council on Education.
He said the computerized version, which students are passing at higher rates than the paper version in pilot sites, will be cheaper to administer because states will no longer have to pick up the tab for things like grading the exam. For test-takers who fail a section, the computerized version provides details about what skills they need to work on before retaking the exam.
“I personally went into it a little bit naively,” said Trask of the new version. “I don’t know why I expected a marching band, but I did because I’m convinced that what we are doing is the right thing for the adults in this country.”