The GED (General Educational Development) exam has been a safety net for those who do not obtain a high school diploma and is typically used as a measure for readiness for college and a requirement for government jobs and many private sector jobs.
Houston School District stopped giving the test this fall, mainly because Itawamba Community College and WIN Job Center offer the test in Chickasaw County. The new test has many trying finish up their course work before the new year.
“It will be a totally different test in January,” said Debbie Harmon, Director of Curriculum and Assessment for Houston Schools. “We have known about this change for several years and the (school) board made the decision not to offer a GED class this fall for a number of reasons.”
Harmon said the district felt the money spent offering GED classes and testing could be better spent on traditional learning and classroom teachers.
“A district also does not get graduation credits if a student successfully passes their GED,” said Harmon. “It does help our drop-out rate when we have a former student complete the program.”
Schools in Houston, Okolona and Houlka have repeatedly seen their state test scores severely lowered because of a high county-wide dropout rate.
Chickasaw County School District had a 67.9 percent graduation rate, a 12.9 percent dropout rate and a 80.2 percent completion rate in 2013.
Houston School District had a 70.7 percent graduation rate, a 13 percent dropout rate and a 81.9 percent completion rate in 2013.
Okolona School District had a 73.9 percent graduation rate, a 9.4 percent dropout rate and a 87.3 percent completion rate in 2013.
These statistics are for students who began as freshmen in 2008 and graduated in 2012. The completion rate includes those who earned their GED.
The current GED is a five-part exam that scores math, reading, science and social studies on a paper test. The new GED will be a four-part test that is only administered by computer.
Those who have started but not completed and passed the old GED will have to start over when the new test is rolled out Jan. 2.
The GED was introduced in 1942 as a way for those who served in the military, or who needed to drop out to support their family, could still finish high school. Over the years the test became an option for students who quit school but realized the need for some type of diploma.
The new test is designed more for those students with college in mind and will be the door for many who quit school and later decide to go to college or have an employer who expects them to take college level training.
The new test will also focus more on higher critical thinking skills and more analysis of data. And since the test will be administered via computer, more computer skills will be required.