Changes in GED Testing Coming to Mississippi

October 17th, 2012

Across Mississippi, 350,000 adults lack a high school degree. Passing GED tests is one of the few paths to high school equivalency and college entry for working-age adults without a high school diploma. Reaching high school equivalency and entering college has increased urgency for many Mississippi workers as wages for adults without a high school degree fall well below what is needed for economic security.

However, changes are on the horizon for Mississippians who want to earn a GED both in the testing cost and in the way the test is administered. In January 2014, the cost of taking the GED will rise from $75 to $120 in the state. The test will also no longer be provided on paper except in special circumstances, and individuals will take each of the GED subject tests on a computer to attain their high school equivalency.

The 2014 GED will have tests in four subjects: math, science, literacy and social studies, a change from the five subjects currently tested. Students who have started the testing for the current GED will have until the end of 2013 to complete their subject testing. The deadline has also led to concerns for adults having to start over with their test battery if they do not complete the current version in time.

Both the increases in cost and the shift to a computerized test could pose difficulties to low-skilled adults who need a GED to advance toward greater financial security. Enhanced preparation for the new test and additional financial support in the form of scholarships for test fees are likely to emerge as needs as the 2014 deadline approaches.

Why is additional support for GED preparation important?
Figure 1 shows that median earnings for adults without a high school degree are close to $11,000 less than for adults with an associate’s degree or some college. Figure 2 shows that an increase in educational attainment also leads to greater job stability. Adults without a high school degree experienced an unemployment rate almost twice that of adults with college experience last year.

 Dropout Recovery Funds have regularly been mentioned on the Policy Matters Blog as one pathway to greater resources for our state’s GED programs. State leaders can appropriate more funding to Dropout Recovery Funds in FY2014, and these funds can be used for critical needs including: improved GED test preparation, additional support for testing fees, career counseling, and assistance in applying for college after the GED. For more information on the importance and potential uses of Dropout Recovery Funds, review MEPC’s fact sheet.

With substantial changes to GED testing on the horizon, appropriating additional resources will be increasingly important to advancing Mississippi’s working adults and the state’s workforce competitiveness.

Author, Sarah Welker, Policy Analyst

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