Challenges in Measuring High School Equivalency: GED Testing Service Lowers Passing Score, Thousands More Students Now Eligible for GED Credentials

In 2010, more than 757,000 adults worldwide took some portion of the GED test according to the GED Testing Service.  High school completion or equivalency has long been considered the marker of a student’s preparation for work or postsecondary education. Passing the GED provides youth and adults opportunities to pursue post-secondary education and work.

When Common Core Standards implemented a series of new tests to ensure students would be ready for postsecondary education in 2014, GED standards also became more rigorous, which meant that the numbers of students who passed the equivalency exam decreased.  After the GED became more difficult to pass, the passing rate for the 223,000 students who took the test that year was 62.8 percent, down from nearly 76 percent in 2013 according to US News and World Report. In response to this decline, the GED Testing Service lowered the high school equivalency exam passing score by 5 points (150 to 145) in January 2016, making thousands of students who previously scored above 145 but below 150 now eligible for a GED credential.  The company issued a recommendation that states grant retroactive passage to those who failed with the previous score of 150, but each state can make its own decision, according to Education Week.

So what score means a student is “ready” for college or work? This is murky, and, as education experts have debated, secondary education exit exams do not equate to college entrance exams, or even employer expectations. The recent changes to the GED exam mean that more students have greater opportunity to access college and job opportunities, but it does not necessarily mean they are prepared to excel.

ACS is proud to work with clients like The Ohio 8 Coalition, the City of Little Rock, and former client Towards Employment, which seeks to assist students and job searchers acquire the education and training they need to succeed in their chosen fields.

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