GED program undergoes several changes

By Emily Crowe

CNJ STAFF WRITER

ecrowe@cnjonline.com

The GED has undergone its first update since 2002, and Clovis Community College is working diligently to initiate changes to its testing program.

According to Mona Lee Norman-Armstrong, director of the college’s Center for Student Success, changes to the high school equivalency test, or General Education Development tests, include an increased price for the exam, as well as more rigorous questions and a fully online format.

“We’re really excited about the new GED exam,” she said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there that the exam is more difficult, and that’s not the appropriate word.”

Instead of rote memorization and choosing an A, B or C answer, Norman-Armstrong said test takers will have a better opportunity to compare and contrast ideas and express opinions on certain subjects.

“You’re much more able to use your own thinking processes to come up with the answer,” she said. “This really does capture the essence of what we expect out of adults out in the real world.”

As for the online component, test center coordinator Laura White explained that registration and payment is to be done by visiting www.ged.com prior to the test, and the test taker need only show up to the test center on the chosen date and time.

While the previous pen-and-paper version of the GED was only available during one week per month at CCC, the new format also allows more scheduling flexibility for both exam proctors and individuals taking the test since the computer acts as proctor, Norman-Armstrong said.

To aid test takers with the initial online registration process, the Center for Student Success has staff members available every Friday to assist anyone, whether it is a CCC student or community member, who wants to register for the test.

Costs associated with the exam have gone up quite a bit, from $40 for the full test to $30 for each section, of which there are now four instead of five.

“We are very concerned about the increase in price,” said Norman-Armstrong, who also explained that because the test is fully computerized and offered by an outside vendor, the college has no control over setting prices.

CCC President Becky Rowley agrees that there is a bit of concern about the price increase, but she said the CCC Foundation plans to continue offering monetary help for the cost of testing.

CCC is offering a new four-week format for its free adult basic education classes, Norman-Armstrong explained. The timing will allow students to more affordably space out tests by taking one test section each month.

“We certainly would not ever want someone who has gone through the program to then be held back from getting a GED because they can’t afford to take the exam,” Rowley said.

According to Rowley, the instruction is meant to help test takers receive their GED on the first try, and the center will continue tweaking courses as needed to make sure students are fully prepared for the new test.

One the plus side, Norman-Armstrong said the new GED exam scores will offer a scale to better assess a person’s readiness for the workforce or to begin a college career.

“In the very near future, our employers will become more familiar with this scale,” she said, “and they will recognize an individual with a high score as being very work-ready.”