He said the computerized version, which students are passing at higher rates than the paper version in pilot sites, will be cheaper to administer because states will no longer have to pick up the tab for things like grading the exam. For test-takers who fail a section, the computerized version provides details about what skills they need to work on before retaking the exam.
"I personally went into it a little bit naively," said Trask of the new version. "I don't know why I expected a marching band, but I did because I'm convinced that what we are doing is the right thing for the adults in this country."
Competitors responded with a paper version and a cheaper base price, although GED Testing Service said its price includes services the other two test makers don't. The alternative exams' makers also said they will work with states to find ways to combine scores from the GED with their new exams so students who have passed some sections of the current GED won't be forced to start from scratch. GED Testing Service said that would undermine the validity of a state's equivalency credential or diploma.
Trask also said he feared the competing exams would be confusing for colleges and employers. But states considering switching say they'll put more emphasis on the equivalency credential or diploma they issue rather than the test taken to earn it.
Art Ellison, who leads the Bureau of Adult Education in New Hampshire, called the sudden choice in the exams "the new reality of adult education." His state and Montana are switching to HiSET, a $50 test that the Educational Testing Service, or ETS, is offering. Both states said cost influenced their decision, with Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau proclaiming in a news release that residents "looking to improve their economic situation by obtaining a high school equivalency diploma should not have to overcome a significant financial barrier in order to achieve that goal."
Ellison also noted that a paper option was important because many students in adult education classes lack the skills needed to take a computer-based test and that it will take time to beef up the courses to add that training.
Meanwhile, New York chose California-based CTB/McGraw-Hill's new Test Assessing Secondary Completion, or TASC. Developers said it will range in price from $50 to $60.
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a news release that without the change, New York would have had to pay the GED test maker twice as much or limit the number of test takers because state law bars residents from being charged to take the equivalency exam.
"We can't let price deny anyone the opportunity for success."
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