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Time is running out for testing GED requirements changing in 2014

Published 10:36am Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nontraditional students have scrambled this fall to complete GED requirements before the alternative to a high school diploma changes next year to conform to Common Core curriculum standards.

“We’ve been busy all fall,” said Amy Baskin, community education director for Austin Public Schools.

Austin officials say attendance at GED classes is up 40 percent at the district’s Adult Learning Center. That’s in part because once the new GED standards take effect on Jan. 1, students will lose any progress they’ve made toward GEDs and have to start over.

In addition, the test will be done entirely through computer, according to Janice Mino, adult learning program coordinator.

“People will have to write an essay, but it will of course be on the computer,” she said. “Keyboarding skills are going to be important, because that test is timed.”

Mino said the district plans to add keyboarding classes to its adult basic education program.

The GED has been around since 1942, when it was used by the U.S. military to test recruits. Though it has been updated over the years, the five-part exam series will dramatically change in 2014. For starters, students will only have to pass four tests. The GED will also cost more, as the computer exam will cost $120 for all tests instead of the $60-$125 for the written exam.

Mino said the state of Minnesota will help offset cost increases in 2014 by directly reimbursing test-takers for a small amount.

In addition, practice tests will cost $5 to $15, though students enrolled in Adult Learning Center classes can take practice tests for free.

As the GED changes, more states are looking for alternative accreditation. Several states, including West Virginia, Wyoming, Indiana and New York, offer the Test Assessing Secondary Completion exam as a high school equivalency, Minnesota education officials began re-evaluating the GED earlier this month in an effort to determine whether to find a different exam as an equivalent to a high school diploma.

Friday, Dec. 20, is the last day area test-takers can work on getting their GED, though Mino said that day will likely only help those who already made progress on their GED exams.

Starting Jan. 2, students can sign up for English and math classes through the Adult Learning Center, which will be held at Riverland Community College’s west campus in Austin. For more information on the classes, contact Erin Haag at 507-433-0538.

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