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GED students get extension

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- People who have passed parts of the current version of the GED test will now be able to save those scores for up to one year after the state begins using a new version of the test next year.

The state Adult Basic Education Office recently approved a one-year grace period for GED students who haven't passed the entire test yet -- meaning those students won't have to start from scratch once the new, computerized version goes into effect Jan. 2.

That's a relief for more than 13,000 people across West Virginia who received notices earlier this year warning them that if they did not pass all parts of the test by Dec. 31, their past scores would be erased.

People will now be offered the option to incorporate their prior scores into the remaining sections they need of the new test until January 2015.

The current version of the GED, which was developed in 2002, is being replaced with a new version nationwide that aligns with Common Core standards.

That means the new GED test "may require higher level thinking skills and content-specific knowledge in the areas of science and social studies," according to Debbie Frazier Varner, executive director for the Office of Adult Education and Workforce Development.

Also, the state Department of Education is hiring a vendor outside of the GED trademark that also offers a high school equivalency test in an attempt to keep costs down.

West Virginia is one of only four states that cover GED costs so that test-takers do not have to pay out of pocket, but the new, computerized test is increasing from $50 to $120.

Because that cost per-test is out of the Legislature's budget, state Department of Education officials plant to hire a company that can offer an alternate high school diploma option closer to the original price of $50 so that West Virginians can continue taking the test free of cost.

While a vendor has not yet been selected to provide the new assessment, all vendors who submitted a bid have agreed to combine past test scores with the new assessment scores until January 2015, according to Varner.

"We hope that this will give many students ample time to complete the test successfully," Varner said in an email sent to Adult Basic Education instructors and administrators earlier this month. "Scores from the [current] test and the new assessment will be combined. While this gives instructors and students a little breathing room, there are some issues to consider."

Those issues include the fact that while paper-based testing will still be available in some areas, many testing sites will move to Computer-based testing, where all parts of the assessment must be taken online.

"This includes the writing test, which will require keyboarding skills," Varner said.

Prior to taking the GED test or the new assessment, test takers must still take and pass an Official Practice Test.

"The State ABE Office strongly recommends that teachers, examiners, and administrators continue to encourage test takers who haven't successfully completed all parts of the [current] test to retest before the end of 2013," Varner's email said.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at or 304-348-4814.



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