For decades the GED test offered through the American Council on Education and Pearson Vue has been synonymous with a high school equivalency certificate.
Cleveland State Director of Testing Services Judy Nye and Testing Administrator Wanda Huffman said a new test, the HiSET, is set to be released in January 2014.
Both the GED (general equivalency diploma) and HiSET are high school degree equivalency tests, and both will be offered at Cleveland State.
The HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) developed by Educational Testing Services, will be released at the same time the GED is releasing its new battery of tests.
Nye explained the GED develops a new test every 10 to 12 years.
“This time they decided to add Common Core State Standards along with a college and career readiness component to the test,” Nye said. “However, all of the schools are not testing yet in Common Core.”
The new GED testing regimen will be completely paperless. All tests will be completed on the computer through the use of the testing software. The cost of a full battery of tests will be $125.
According to Huffman, the HiSET was designed to counterbalance several aspects of the GED. She said the HiSET was designed to be more accessible as there will be both a paper and pencil or computer option. The initial price for the HiSET will be $75. A reduced price will be offered to test takers who retake the test within 12 months of their first attempt.
HiSET will be slowly integrating Common Core standards.
“The GED Pearson Vue is going to be aligned with Common Core standards,” Huffman said. “HiSET will continue at the same level as they are now, working toward Common Core within three to four years. There will be two phases [of integration].”
Added Huffman, “You couldn’t really expect someone taking a high school equivalency test to learn all of the Common Core standards, when a high school graduate has not [even] had all that yet.”
Paper and pencil tests have been added to the HiSET in consideration of older test takers. Adult Learning Centers, establishments which help test takers prepare for the high school equivalency tests, reported older applicants lack the necessary computer skills. Huffman said the essay portion is timed. Poor typing skills make it difficult to complete the written portion within the allotted period.
Cleveland State sees approximately 400 first-time test takers every year, and the number does not include those who return for a retake.
Huffman said individuals may initially be “leery” of taking a test other than the GED.
“Some people might be a little leery of HiSET because it is new, and wonder is it going to be recognized and who is going to recognize it,” Huffman said before explaining seven other states have adopted the HiSET.
“We are trying to get away from the GED thing, because the state is trying to do a generic diploma and transcript,” Huffman continued. “Pearson Vue will not be giving our Tennessee testers a diploma. It will come from the state and it will not say HiSET and it will not say Pearson Vue.”
The certificate given by the state will say either High School Equivalency Diploma or High School Equivalency Transcript.
“It will not say where they got it,” Huffman said. “Other states are looking at alternatives as well.”
Some testers see advertisements for online GED tests. Nye and Huffman said these are always fakes. High School Equivalency tests are only available at approved testing sites.
“Even though they are available on the computer, the tests are not available online through different websites,” Nye explained. “It has to be an official testing site with the software and real credentials that come from the state.”
At this time, Huffman and Nye said testers must go through the local adult education offices found in Bradley, Polk, McMinn, Meigs/Rhea or Monroe counties to take any official high school equivalency tests.
Tutorials, exam schedules, sample questions and more information on both the GED and HiSET can be found at their respective websites: HISET@ets.org and GEDtestingservices.com.
Huffman explained the upcoming change with the GED is providing a unique opportunity for current testers.
She said those taking a pencil and paper GED test will have the opportunity to take the test six more times, if they switch to the computer version. The scores of the paper and pencil test and the computer version will be merged. Testers only have until the final testing day offered at Cleveland State to take advantage of the change.