Clock ticking for GED testingTime is running out for Joe Peterson. The 31-year-old dropped out of school in ninth grade to join the workforce. As his mother Cindy put it, he liked money more than school.
By: By Maria Lockwoodfirstname.lastname@example.org, Superior Telegram
Time is running out for Joe Peterson. The 31-year-old dropped out of school in ninth grade to join the workforce. As his mother Cindy put it, he liked money more than school. Realizing a General Educational Development certificate could double his current wage and make him eligible to join a local union, Peterson hit the books again. In 2010, the Duluth man took the five tests required to earn his GED. But he only passed four of them, and left the last one hanging.
“Between work and other things in life, I had to put it on the back burner the last over two years,” Peterson said.
His educational pot is reaching the boiling point now. If Peterson doesn’t pass that fifth test, the math test, by Dec. 13, he’ll have to start all over. New GED tests are slated to roll out in 2014, and any previous scores will be tossed.
“If you don’t finish, you lose it and have to start from scratch,” said Twila Sauve with the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College of Superior adult basic education program during a presentation last week.
Peterson isn’t alone. There are more than 43,000 people who started the GED process in Wisconsin but never finished it, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Of those, 122 started the process in Douglas County. That number just includes people who have taken at least one test since 2002 in Wisconsin, and doesn’t account for any moving those students may have done since taking the tests. There’s a big push on now to get those people back before everything changes, Sauve said.
“You will no longer be able to take the current GED/HSED tests,” Sauve said. “The test is going to take on a new face.” How student-friendly it will be, she said, remains to be seen.
About 9,000 people earn their GED or HSED certificate in Wisconsin each year. HSED is the state’s High School Equivalency Diploma, which Sauve said carries more weight with employers than a GED. To earn an HSED the student must pass all five core GED tests — math, science, social studies, reading and communication/writing — as well as additional health and civics tests and undergo a workshop on employability skills.
The last time new tests were introduced was 2002, according to Beth Lewis, alternative education and GED/HSED administrator for the DPI. At that point, as at the end of this year, anyone who had taken some of the previous tests but not completed all of them had to start from scratch. There was a 60 percent completion rate as the last tests were sun-downing, Lewis said. She hopes that word will get out and as many people as possible will step up to finish their degree again this time.
Students don’t have to complete the degree where they started it. Scores from GED tests taken in other states do transfer, according to Lewis, and testing centers can get that information for students.
Peterson said he doesn’t want to wait for the new math test, which Sauve said may include intermediate algebra. He also expressed interest in upgrading to the HSED. The Duluth man was glad his mother encouraged him to attend the presentation, which was sponsored by the Literacy Council of Superior/Douglas County.
“It’s helping me make the effort to step on the pedal,” Peterson said.
To start, or re-start, the process of earning a GED/HSED, people must go to a training center. There are no online tests, Lewis warned. If any ad claims you can earn a high school equivalency diploma online, she said, it’s a scam.
In Douglas County, the starting point would be WITC’s Success Center. Center staff will do initial testing to assess a student’s strengths and come up with a game plan. Options for students hoping to brush up their skills include structured classes, an open learning lab, cram sessions, computerized classes and more.
“Practice makes perfect,” Sauve said. The center is grant-funded so the only cost to students is the test fee of $92, which is due when they actually take the test.
To start back on the path to a GED or HSED, contact Kim Davidson at WITC-Superior, 715-394-6677, ext. 6210 or email email@example.com.
More information on the GED and HSED can be found at http://dpi.wi.gov. Type GED into the search bar.