Changes coming to GEDs

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New requirements to make equivalency diploma harder to earn

By Reece Murphy

Local adult education program officials are strongly urging students who have dropped out short of completing their GEDs to come back to school and finish before the end of the year.

The pleas are a result of a looming state deadline that makes it harder for such students to earn their general equivalency diploma.

Carolinas Literacy Network Executive Director Kathy Wilds said GED students who have passed some but not all five parts of the 2002 Series GED tests currently in use have until the end of 2013 to pass or face starting over again in January 2014.

“The GED test opens doors to college, better jobs, the respect adults deserve, and the satisfaction of earning a high school credential,” Wilds said. “So we want to be sure everyone is aware of this deadline.

“GED test-takers must act now to finish and pass before the current test expires,” she said.

Lancaster County School District Adult Education Director Kim Linton said the changing GED requirements are part of the state’s shift to national common core standards in education.

Under the new requirements, the core subject areas – writing, reading, math, social studies and science – will stay the same, but the level of work required to graduate will be more rigorous.

Linton said next year’s test, for example, will do away with the current test’s multiple-choice questions and instead include “short constructive choice” questions where students pick the answer and then explain why that is the correct answer.

GED curriculum requirements, as a whole, will increase too, Linton said, with math moving up an entire academic level.

Linton said students who now only have to learn math through algebra to earn their GED will have to start over in 2014 and learn math all the way through trigonometry.

What most people don’t know, she said, is that GED tests are already tougher than high school equivalency tests, so it’s difficult for her and other educators to see GED students who have worked so hard fall short.

“That’s why we’re trying to encourage them to finish,” Linton said. “Some people only need to finish one part; some only need 40, 50, 60 points to graduate (out of 2,400 total).

“We’ve sent letters out letting students know, but we can’t get them to come back,” she said.

Community in School’s YouthBuild, with its focus on 17-to 24-year old students interested in learning the construction trade, is another local program that offers GED classes.

YouthBuild Executive Director Max Melton said he too would like GED students to know the importance of finishing up their GED studies this year.

The thing to remember, Melton said, is that the sooner you have an eduction, the sooner you can move on with making a better life for yourself.

“Really, education is the key to really being able to do what you want to do and the key to independence,” Melton said. “If you don’t have that, it makes life a whole lot tougher.

“If you have an eduction, it opens up a lot of doors,” he said. “Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’re going to have to work for a living, and it’s nice to be able to do what you want.”

Both Linton and Melton said all students have to do is contact them and they’ll help get the ball rolling.

Linton said she’s trying to schedule Saturday “GED Bootcamp” classes for prospective students who have to work full time during the week. For others, there’s both day and night classes.

Adult Ed even offers “work ready” courses, help writing resumes and other “employability skills” training for adults who are out of work.

“It takes a lot of dedication and hard work,” Linton said, “but our teachers work hard and we’re willing to help them one-on-one. If they request it and work hard, we’ll get them through.”

Wilds said the effort to get local adults back into the classroom to finish their GEDs before the end of the year has been enhanced by a $30,000 donation from the Walmart Foundation.

The funds are being split between the Literacy Network’s area partners for GED books and preparation materials.

“We are fortunate to have such wonderful providers such as YouthBuild, Fort Lawn Community Center, along with the adult education programs with our area school districts,” Wilds said in an email last week. “I am thankful for Walmart’s financial support and their focus on eduction.”

For more information on Lancaster County School District’s Adult Education GED program and hours, call (803) 285-7660. To visit the program’s website, go to www.lancastercsd.com and click on “schools” under the “general info” tab.

For more information on Lancaster YouthBuild’s GED program, call Melton at (803) 285-2311.

For information on GED programs in York, Clover, Fort Mill, Chester and Fort Lawn, contact Carolinas Literacy Network at (803) 285-8805 or toll free at 1-877-775-7323.


 Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151