While graduating from high school is no longer considered the bare minimum for many professions, getting a Graduate Equivalency Certificate, or GED, is out of reach for more people than you might expect. A growing chorus of tutors, education experts and students insist that obtaining a Texas GED is too difficult.
Kathryn Thompson, the director of Tarrant Literacy Coalition, spoke to Texas Standard today about efforts to change the state’s current GED test.
On the difficulty of the test:
“It shouldn’t be easy, and we’re not advocating for an easy test. We’re advocating for a fair test, and for options for our students…There are three high school equivalency exams available in the United States, and Texas only offers one at the present time. This test must be taken on a computer, even though there are other options that allow students to take the test with paper and pencil. And this test is extremely expensive; it’s twice the cost of the other options that are available in other states. So those two barriers alone make it very difficult for our students to take and pass this test.”
On the exam scores Texas students are receiving:
“When Pearson first released the test, [students] had 90 minutes to do the math test. They’ve since added a few more minutes to that. [Students] now have a little over 100 minutes to do the test, because they realized virtually no one was passing that part of the test… Still, the pass rate is low. Only 50 percent of the people who take the math test are passing it.”
On students traveling to take the test in another state:
“The three states bordering Texas – Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico – all offer an alternative test to the GED. So yes, we do have students who are crossing our borders and going into other states to take the test.”
On the cost of taking Texas’ only GED exam:
“Right now, to take the Pearson GED exam, it costs $135… That’s more than twice the cost of the other two options… It is currently the only option in Texas, and Pearson has a contract that will run through June of next year. So that’s the only option for the next year for the students in Texas, but we’re trying to get that changed.”
Listen to the full interview in the player above.