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Officials warn about fake GED services

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By The Staff

COLUMBIA – The national organization responsible for administering the General Educational Development tests is advising people that the GED credential cannot be earned on the Internet or through correspondence programs.

State GED administrators nationwide have reported increasing numbers of complaints from individuals who paid steep fees to take what they thought were official GED tests, and upon passing, thought they had earned the highly recognized GED credential issued by their respective state GED testing agency.

GED tests measure the academic skills and knowledge expected of high school graduates in the United States or Canada.

Sylvia Robinson, executive director of the GED Testing Service, said her organization "is deeply concerned with a recent increase in the number of Web sites purporting to offer GED testing online or through the mail."

"We would like everyone to know – and share with others – that GED tests are not currently offered online and can only be taken in person at an official GED Testing Center," Robinson said. "Any services that purport to offer a GED credential through any other means may be of dubious value, and may deliver a product that is not accepted by employers, colleges and universities, or the military."

Robinson said her organization is increasing its efforts to alert the public and education community to Web sites that infringe on the GED trademark and brand and offer diplomas and certificates that may have dubious value.

David Stout, South Carolina's state GED administrator, offered an additional warning. He urged anyone considering enrolling in an online or correspondence program that promises a South Carolina high school diploma to consider carefully the cost involved and the accreditation of the program. There are schools located in South Carolina that offer a short-term program that leads to a diploma. Before investing money in any program, a background check of the institution may be a wise investment.

Stout said that programs promising a high school diploma in just a few weeks may be suspect. "As the saying goes, buyer beware," Stout said. "If college enrollment is the goal of a GED candidate, I would encourage him or her to contact colleges or universities as to whether the credential issued by the online or correspondence program is acceptable."

Nearly 6,000 adults earn a GED each year in South Carolina. Since the inception of the GED examination in the early 1940s, almost 174,000 South Carolinians have earned a GED diploma.

The S.C. Department of Education's GED Testing Office provides funding for an online GED preparation program. This online GED preparation program is offered locally by most school district adult education programs.

For adults who are unable to attend class because of transportation problems, work conflicts, or child-care concerns, the online GED preparation may be a perfect fit.

For details about South Carolina's GED testing program, call toll-free (800) 277-7323.

The S.C. Department of Education's GED Testing Office Web site contains test center information, testing schedules and other information regarding GED exams (www.scged.org). There is also a link to local school district adult education programs, which are the main providers of GED instruction.

Hiring personnel, college admissions officers and military enlistment personnel who wish to verify the authenticity of an individual's GED credential should contact the appropriate jurisdictional agency that administered the GED tests.

A complete listing of these agencies can be found at http://www.gedtest.org by clicking on "Contact your Jurisdiction's GED Testing Program."