New GED Test is an Asset, Not a Barrier, to Student Success

To the Editor:

The reality of today’s global economy is that fewer and fewer jobs require only a high-school diploma or, for those students who don’t complete high school, a GED credential. But the author of the op-ed criticizing the new GED test (“To Get More College-Ready Students, Drop the GED,” The Chronicle, June 10) misses the point: If his goal is to help more students avoid remedial education and earn a college degree, then the new GED test should be viewed as an asset, not a barrier. The GED test is neither the only cause nor should it be the only solution to the problem of getting noncredentialed adults into jobs or college. But what the new exam, which was released last year, does do is set higher expectations and give test takers the tools they need to succeed.

Why did the American Council on Education, in a joint venture with Pearson, launch the GED Testing Service in 2011 in order to create the new GED test?

It had become clear in recent years, based on feedback from employers, colleges and universities, and test-takers themselves, that the value of the old GED credential and the number of people taking the test had eroded. For example, despite the fact that the GED originally was created at the request of the United States Armed Forces Institute, the Department of Defense had relegated the old test to a second- or third-class credential for admission to any of the service branches. That is a clear signal that employers were looking for a change.

Today’s GED grads want jobs as firefighters, teachers, EMTs, certified nurse assistants, dental hygienists, computer programmers, to name a few. These jobs require some college, additional job training, or a specialized certification. Whether it is military service, fast food, retail, hospitality, or healthcare, employers want employees with the skills that the GED test now measures, like critical thinking, problem solving, and digital literacy.

Over the history of this program, each new GED test raised expectations in response to new demands, and over time GED test takers showed they could meet them and across-the-board employers benefited from a more skilled and prepared workforce. That will be the case again with this new, valuable GED test.

Nicole Chestang
Vice President and Chief Strategist for College and Career Success
American Council on Education
Washington

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