Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Success and Failure on the G.E.D.

A NYT editorial on helping more students pass the GED and a new program being tried in NYC's District 79 (the only non-geographic district in NYC, which focuses on the most at-risk students; it's run by former TFAer and ed warrior, Cami Anderson):

Nearly 40 million Americans are locked into dead-end jobs because they do not have a high school diploma. A daylong exam called the General Educational Development test, or G.E.D., provides the equivalent of a high school diploma — and better chances in the job market — to those who pass it. Nearly 800,000 people take the exam each year, and about 500,000 pass.

But here is the stunning — and sad — truth about this exam: Success depends heavily on where you live. In Iowa, Kansas and Delaware, 90 percent or more of those who take the test pass. In Alabama, Mississippi, New York and the District of Columbia, less than 60 percent pass.

What accounts for the difference? Preparation. States with low success rates do a poor job of prepping students for the exam. The reverse is true in states with high scores. In Iowa, for example, students take a diagnostic pretest, then receive instruction in their weak areas, then take a practice test. In 2009, 98 percent of those who took the test in Iowa passed the G.E.D. exam.

The test is free in some states and costs as much as $400 in others. Either way, states should make sure people have a legitimate shot at success.

A G.E.D. program developed by New York City's Department of Education may help show New York State — and other states with poor test results — the way forward. The program uses innovative instructional techniques to make sure students are fully prepared. Over the last several years, the program has a pass rate of about 78 percent, more than 20 percentage points higher than the statewide rate.

The city's program has so impressed the American Council on Education, the nonprofit group that owns the G.E.D., that it will soon begin a pilot program in District 79, which deals with alternative schools and programs. Underwritten by a $3 million grant from the MetLife Foundation, this pilot program is intended to develop a model for educating more adults more quickly so they can pass the G.E.D. and move on with their careers.


NYT editorial, December 31, 2010

Success and Failure on the G.E.D.

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