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Longtime GED exam gives way to new test
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Saturday, February 22, 2014 4:00 AM
Indiana has changed its high school equivalency test provider this year and parted ways with the General Education Dipolma (GED) exam.
The state changed to McGraw Hill's Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), an exam Indiana officials say follows college readiness and allows adult learners to be better prepared for current employer demands.
While TASC may not roll off the tongue quite like GED or be in the country's common lexicon, the exam is similar as it measures student's abilities in English and writing, mathematics, science and social studies.
"The concept of the test hasn't changed," said Molly Dodge, River Valley Resources' director of external affairs.
Before making the switch to McGraw's new testing system - which will be in place for at least the next three years - the state renamed the degree the Indiana High School Equilvancy Diploma to avoid confusion if the test provider changes again.
This is the first year several states have selected a different vendor for the exam other than GED Testing Service, Dodge said. The state switched because of rising costs of the GED test and because the exam changed to an all computer-based format.
"Indiana wants the flexibility to choose the vendor that best meets the needs of the state," Dodge said.
The nonprofit River Valley Resources provides free classes through grants from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
The new test will take about seven hours and the cost is capped at $90. Dodge said River Valley Resources expects to have the newest test manuals and study sheets in by the end of the month.
Through TASC, state officials said test-takers will have to be more proficient in the subject matter tested than 40 percent of high school seniors in the country in order to pass. Starting immediately, the essay and mathematics section of the test will change, and over the next several years, the test gradually will increase in difficulty.
Debbie Williams, who teaches the preparation courses in Madison, said she already has adopted a more difficult mathematics model in addition to a new essay format. She said the new test will focus on more analytical essays.
Last year, River Valley Resources - which provides courses for free in Madison, Brookville, Lawrenceburg, Osgood, Rising Sun and Vevay - made a push to graduate as many adult learners as possible because GED credits do not transfer over to the new exam format.
Madison graduated 40 learners in the 2013 fall semester, which was a record amount.
"Students who had started the GED - maybe they had passed a section of it - they really came back into our classes because they didn't want those scores to expire. So the demand was pretty high," Dodge said.
The demand was so high, in fact, that River Valley Resources has depleted its test assistance fund, which helped adult learners pay for the expense of taking the exam.
River Valley Resources used the account to help students fund half the cost of the exam.
Dodge said she's asking local foundations and organizations to help replenish the fund or notify those who may have an interest.
"What I hate is when someone studies very hard with us but can't take the test because they can't afford it," Dodge said.
In addition to pulling in more funding and students, River Valley Resources is making a public relations push to inform employers of the changes. Instead of just looking for the GED on applications, employers should also look for the Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma.
Dodge has been sending messages to local Chamber of Commerce groups in the six counties River Vallery Resources covers and to human resources groups in an attempt to alert them of the changes. She also attended a seminar last week in Osgood to discuss the difference between the tests, as well as the new benefits of the state's newly adopted exam.
"That was a great opportunity to contact and explain this to the people actually making the hiring decisions," she said.
Those in Madison interested in taking classes and earning a High School Equivalency Diploma can call (812) 265-3734. The classes are free and held at WorkOne on Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Monday and Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m.
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