• New testing standards aim to take GED graduates to new levels of academic achievement
Students in the Kachemak Bay Campus General Education Degree courses find that nudging one another along is going to be even more important in the months ahead.
“Sometimes you need a little bit of elbow, and that’s what we do for each other,” student Francesa Mireles said. The Anchor Point mother, while raising her children and helping them through homework, figured now is her chance to finish a high school education.
Mireles teamed up with Bill Brown, a hispanic man raised in Stockton, Calif., and Marian Jones, a resident from the Philippines, for studying math and other subjects taught at the KBC Adult Learning Program. The trio explain things to one another like monetary exchanges for math principals and parts of English grammar.
“We push along and thrive on each other’s energy,” she added. “We’re going to really need it in the months ahead.”
The GED Testing Service revised its learning guidelines in a philosophical approach aimed at preparing the graduates for better job opportunities. The new tests go into effect Jan. 1. That means between now and Dec. 20, any test completed toward the GED will ease the transition to the new testing requirements.
Mireles, Brown and Jones say that means they will have to work all the harder to try to finish by year-end.
“The changes sound overwhelming,” said Brown, an apprentice plumber at Eayr’s Plumbing and Heating who supports his family. Eayr’s is requiring he achieve the GED as part of his apprentice, an achievement that will set him up well in the years ahead. But school in the over populated, gang-riddled area of California where he grew up didn’t prepare him to like learning as much he is now. “I want to be a good example for my son. I don’t want him saying his dad didn’t get a high school education.”
Jones, enrolled in the English as a Second Language courses, is challenging herself in a lot of ways. She stands as a role model to other students for her courage to enter another culture’s education system and dive into the many things to learn.
“English is so difficult,” she said. For example, why do adults still learn grammar? In the Philippines, children master it.
Jan Peyton and Lolita Brache, both award-winning Adult Ed instructors, encourage them on. They explain changes ahead, and urge students to use this time to push ahead on mastering a subject so they can take tests. About 70 students enroll in KBC’s GED courses in a year’s time. The process can take a long time, given parental and work demands that must be fit in with course work.
“Some have been in and out (of the Adult Ed courses) for six and seven years. The new tests will cost more; that’s the downside of it,” Peyton said. “I tell them to pluck away at it one test at a time. When they are ready, they can do the part they are ready for and get done with what they can possibly do.”
The GED Testing Service changed the requirements going into 2014 to meet the challenges of a different world than when it was created in 1942. It was revised several times after its beginnings as a tool for military soldiers to test out of high school, and now is modernizing again.
“It is focused to ready them for a career. Another advantage is that the computer testing will print out a score report to show where strengths lie. These high scores can be shown to employers,” Peyton said.
Those who earn a GED will gain even more respect in the work and academic world because it will prepare them with the necessary skills, like technology skills.
An estimated 60 percent of high school graduates require remediation – the developmental classes before they can take the college courses. This means high schools and GED programs aren’t getting them to the skill level in Math and English courses that they need to immediately enter for college-level basics.
Peyton warns students about scams on the Internet promising a GED certificate for online testing.
“What they end up with is not a GED but a bogus credential,” she said.
The more successful way to earn it is to go the classes – for the resources and mutual support.
“The classes really help. Jan has been teaching a long time, and she allows us our own learning strategies,” Mireles said. “There’s so much camaraderie. There is always someone to ask for help and we make each other our homework buddies.”
The Adult Ed program includes ESL students from diverse cultures: the Philippines, Ukraine, Porto Rico, Venezuela, Brazil and Greece. An upcoming event is a potluck celebration of diversity among all the students.
The changes ahead will carry the same camaraderie as instructors prepare to work through the new changes with students, instructors promise. They will even accommodate those who can’t come during the week due to work duties. “Please call us and we’ll work something out in the evening or on Saturday,” Peyton said. Call 235-7743 and ask for Jan Peyton or Lolita Brache.
There are several benefits to the new testing. For one thing, it is no longer an endpoint for adults, but a springboard for more education, training, and better-paying jobs.
The new assessment will continue to provide adults the opportunity to earn a high school credential, but it goes further by measuring career- and college-readiness skills that are the focus of today’s curriculum and tomorrow’s success, the GED Testing Service, owned by the American Education Council, states on its website.
Here are the key changes:
• Four content areas—literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies—will measure a foundational core of knowledge and skills that are essential for career and college readiness.The GED test is changing in January 2014.
• The new test will cost $120 and will have 4 parts instead of 5. The current test costs $25.
• All 2014 tests will be administered through a Pearson Vue testing center, and we have one here at the college.
• This test will be administered on computers only, but not online. People see offers on the internet where one can pay $200 or $300 and get a GED. These offers are scams. You cannot get a GED diploma online.
• If students wish to test now, they must start and finish all testing by Dec. 31. In Homer, the last day of testing is Dec. 20.
• Classes are offered free of charge in Homer for Reading, Writing and Math on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is a charge for books and a calculator.
Individual tutoring for math and writing is also available.
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