Adult instructors prepare for changes in GED guidelines

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The New Year, 2014, is bringing changes to the GED program. Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC) Adult Education instructors met Wednesday to discuss and plan for the coming year.

Arkansas Northeastern College Adult Education staff meet at the ANC Leachville and discuss GED testing changes Pictured are, from left: Tammy Thurman, Career Coach State Staff; Kathy Hudson (Osceola);Patty McMillon (Paragould); Tammy Stockton (Paragould); Candie DePriest (Leachville); Susan Robinson (Leachville); Jill Hubbard (Blytheville); Lonzetta Alvoid (Blytheville); Anita Orr (Blytheville); Marie Freeman (Blytheville). Seated -- Shirley Wells (Osceola); Sherryl Cooley (Paragould); Beth Thompson (all locations); Bobbie Diamond (Blytheville); Sue Puckett (Blytheville). Not pictured Joan Eveland, Brenda Kelley, (Paragould); Sarah Imler and Rebecka Bowen (Leachville).

Beth Thompson, adult education coordinator at ANC, met with staff members at the Leachville ANC Center to go over changes, answer questions, review the policy manual from the state and discuss the changes which went into affect Jan. 1.

The GED program was actually established in the 1940s. It helped help young men, returning from World War II, finish their high school education which was disrupted as they went to serve their country.

The GED testing underwent a change in the late 1980s adding more writing. A 200 word essay was added to the test. In 2002 another change was made in math with the use of calculators.

One of the major 2014 changes is all computerized testing.

The basic skills have remained the same as the program has been redesigned to meet the educational needs of the time frame. From the beginning to now adults are going back to finish their high school education with plans to better themselves in the workforce or go on to higher education.

ANC has been offering adult GED classes/testing since the 1980s and can take pride in the successes of so many.

ANC has adult education centers in Greene County, Osceola, Leachville and Blytheville. Most offer day and night classes to accommodate the adults they serve. Osceola does not currently have night classes. The sites are open Monday through Thursday.

More than GED testing sites, the centers offer workforce certifications, career coaching options, computer classes, Career Pathway, Trio Program and several other partnering agencies to help meet the individual needs of each student.

"The new GED testing will be in line with the Common Core curriculum in public schools," Thompson said. "Too many times GED gets branded as 'just a GED.' It is an intense test covering reasoning through language arts (150 minutes); mathematical reasoning (90 minutes); science (90 minutes); and social studies (90 minutes). It is not easy and it can be life changing for those who complete the process and pass the test.

The new exam operates as both a high school equivalency benchmark and as a springboard into furthering education. Instead of being broken into five parts as the previous exam, the new GED exam has four parts including literacy (reading and writing); mathematics, science and social studies.

As they did with the old test, Thompson said the staff members will take the new exam.

"When the staff actually takes the test, it gives them a better understanding of what the students will be facing," Thompson said. "Our staff goes through every step of the process to be able to better serve our students."

The adult classes will continue to offer basic computer skills as the new GED tests are computerized.

"We are here to help our students succeed and if they need help with the computer skills as part of the process we will work with them," Thompson said.

Another change in the GED test is the passing scores. Each subject must have a passing score of 150 for a total of 600 or higher across the four-subject tests to receive a GED. The Honors Score is 170 to 200 on each subject.

A GED Ready test must be taken and passed in an approved GED testing center before an individual can take the official GED test.

The GED Ready test will be purchased by the Arkansas Adult Learning Resource Center and distributed through vouchers or a promo code to the testing sites.

Students will first take the TABE. The person must score at least 10.5 in all areas before being administered the official GED Ready test. If they do not score at least a 10.5, they will be encouraged to enroll in adult education classes.

Participants who chose to register for the GED Ready test can do so on their own but it will cost $6 per area. They will have to take the test again at an approved adult education program before taking the GED test. The centers cannot validate the practice tests taken at home. There is a minimum of 20 hours instruction (class) time requirement, also.

The GED testing in Arkansas has always been free but this year there will be a minimum charge of $4 per part or $16 for the four parts. Thompson said the state is paying the majority of the over $100 cost to give everyone who wants to further their education or job opportunities to earn a GED.

Thompson said with the new testing, students will have their results almost immediately. The results of the writing might take a few extra days but not weeks.

The GED testing center is a separate department from the other services provided through the ANC adult education centers.

The staff wears many hats including academic and customer service.

Thompson said the new GED curriculum is a learning process for all of the staff but she expressed her confidence in the staff getting the changes in place.

Another change is the testing can be taken up to seven times a year January through December. In the past it could only be taken three times a year.

"The basic skills are still there but we are just changing the method of presentation," she said. "Our students become part of our work family. We are excited to share their achievements. Some students, if they have been out of school a long time or left school at an earlier age, will need more basics but that is what we are here for. We want to address the individual needs of each one in the adult educational program. We know this (adult education) makes a difference in lives. Let's look forward to a great year."

ANC holds graduations in May and June for its GED graduates. There are also college scholarships available for students who excel in the program making honors scores.

The staff encouraged area residents to drop by any of the centers and see what there is to offer.

It is a new year with a new curriculum so all GED candidates will need to start again.

Thompson was pleased to announce that 25 students finished their testing and received GED certification the last two weeks in December.

Tamela Thurman, career coach for the adult education division of Arkansas, was in Leachville on Wednesday to meet with the staff.

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