The GED as a door to the future

17 Nov

There are a variety of reasons why people fail to complete high school and fail complete their high school education, According to the July 24, 2011 NPR report, School Dropout Rates Add To Fiscal Burden by Claudio Sanchez and Linda Wertheimer, “Nearly 1 million kids who start high school every year don’t make it to graduation.” http://www.npr.org/2011/07/24/138653393/school-dropout-rates-adds-to-fiscal-burden

There are many reasons why kids drop out of school. Kate Convissor lists the following reasons in the EduGuide article, Why Kids Drop Out of School:

While the reasons kids drop out vary, the following are six important risk factors:

  1. Academic difficulty and failure. Struggling in school and failing classes is one of the main reasons teens drop out, and this pattern often shows up early. Students who fail eighth grade English or math, for example, are seventy-five percent more likely to drop out of high school.
  2. Poor attendance. Teens who struggle in school are also absent a lot, and along with academic failure, absenteeism is an important future predictor for dropping out. As with the previous example, students who are absent for twenty percent of their eighth grade year (one day per week) are also highly likely to drop out in high school.
  3. Being held back (retention). Linked to academic difficulty, students who are held back and who are older than the kids in their grade also tend to drop out.
  4. Disengagement from school. Many kids who drop out say that school was boring and teachers did little to connect learning to real life. They didn’t feel invested in their school and they didn’t feel that adults seemed interested in them or their high school experience.
  5. Transition to a new school. A poor transition from the smaller, more protected environment of middle school to the anonymity of a high school can cause a teen to have difficulty catching up-and some kids never do.
  6. Other life factors. Pregnancy, family problems, and financial difficulties are all factors that distract a student from schoolwork and make keeping up more challenging.

http://www.eduguide.org/library/viewarticle/2132/

Because many entry level jobs require at a minimum a high school diploma, the General Education Development Test or GED is often substituted for the high school diploma to show that an individual has reached a basic level of education achievement.

The GED Testing Service describes the GED in their Fact Sheet:

The GED Tests provide adults who did not complete a formal high school program the opportunity to certify their attainment of high school-level academic knowledge and skills

The tests are field-tested and normed on graduating high school seniors before becoming final test forms

Only 60% of graduating high school seniors would pass the GED Tests on their first attempt

The GED Test battery comprises five content area assessments:

Language Arts, Reading

Language Arts, Writing

Mathematics

Science

Social Studies

The GED Tests are currently offered only in a paper-pencil format at Official GED Testing Centers – they cannot be taken online

Completing the entire test battery takes just over 7 hours

http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ged/pubs/GED_Testing_Program_Fact_Sheet_v2_2010.pdf

Because of the competition for jobs in the current economy, there appears to be an “arms race” for completion of degrees and training.

Laura Pappano is reporting in the New York Times article, The Master’s As the New Bachelor’s

Call it credential inflation. Once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D. or just a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, the master’s is now the fastest-growing degree. The number awarded, about 657,000 in 2009, has more than doubled since the 1980s, and the rate of increase has quickened substantially in the last couple of years, says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.

Just as there is an “arms race” in the completion of university degrees, there is a push to look at what successful completion of a GED means.

Catherine Gewertz is reporting in the Education Week article, Higher Education Is Goal of GED Overhaul about proposed changes to the GED.

The project to redesign the GED is far-reaching. It includes not only reworking the content in the five subject-matter tests and transferring them from pencil-and-paper to computers, but also overhauling professional development for GED teachers, reworking curricula, and adding strong counseling supports to help students pass and plan their next steps.

Pivotal to the ambitious initiative is repositioning the GED as a step in a journey toward postsecondary training, rather than as an end in itself. Epitomizing that shift in thinking, the new exam, due out in 2014, will have two passing points: the traditional one connoting high school equivalency, and an additional, higher one signaling college and career readiness….

Value Questioned

Situating the GED as a pathway to higher education echoes its original intent. The first exams, in 1942, were envisioned as a way for returning World War II veterans to complete high school and use the GI Bill to attend college. In 1949, the first year statistics are available for nonmilitary test-takers, 39,000 people took one or more of the five sections of the test: reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. By 2010, that number had risen to 750,000….

The GED is widely used as a high-school-completion tool by those in the military and in prisons, and by dropouts who are too old for the public school system. Although one-quarter of those who take the test are 16 to 18 years old, the typical GED candidate is 26, has completed 10th grade, and has been out of school nine years, according to ACE data….

Even as the GED is overhauled, scholars continue to debate its value.

Some research has found that GED recipients earn no more than high school dropouts; a 1993 studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader found them “indistinguishable” from high school dropouts in the labor market. Other research concludes that they earn moreRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader than dropouts, and nearly as much as those with high school diplomas. But a 2010 studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader attributed that added earning power to personal traits and family characteristics that GED passers shared with diploma earners, such as higher levels of parental education.

One of the co-authors of that study, Nicholas S. Mader, said that any next-generation GED program would have to incorporate “soft skills,” such as persistence and study skills, if recipients are to stand a better chance in work and higher education than dropouts….

Shift in Content

When it comes to some postsecondary measures, GED recipients do better than high school dropouts. According to a 2010 studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader by the Washington-based ACE, 43 percent enroll in certificate or college programs within six years, compared with 20 percent of those who don’t pass the test and 64 percent of high school graduates. But few complete more than a year of coursework.

A 2009 studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader by the ACE followed 1,000 people who took the GED and found that only 307 had enrolled in postsecondary education five years later. Three-quarters dropped out after one semester, and only 17 completed a degree or certificate.

Such outcomes have fueled criticism of the widespread view that a GED is “equivalent” to a high school diploma….

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/11/16/12ged.h31.html?tkn=OLNF%2BDEky%2BnV0%2B%2FJLiSY2K1xeBkjdbsk1elT&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1

This world is in a period of dislocation and upheaval as great as the period of dislocation which ushered in the “industrial revolution.” The phrase “new, new thing” comes from a book by Michael Lewis about innovation in Silicon Valley. This historical period is between “new, new things” as the economy hopes that some new innovator will harness “green technology” and make it commercially viable as the economy needs the jump that only a “new, new thing” will give it. Peter S. Goodman has a fascinating article in the New York Times, Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs

Unless, children are given a meaningful education which provides them with basic skills to adapt to a changing environment, the education system is producing a permanent underclass which will not be able to participate in the next “new, new thing.”

Resources:

GED Testing Service

http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=GED_TS&CFID=4438019&CFTOKEN=45604581&jsessionid=1630edd8748a$D9$60$C

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2008 Compendium Report

December 2010 http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011012.pdf

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

4 Responses to “The GED as a door to the future”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Do intense high school programs help students? « drwilda - July 22, 2012

    […] Unless, children are given a meaningful education which provides them with basic skills to adapt to a changing environment, the education system is producing a permanent underclass which will not be able to participate in the next “new, new thing. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/the-ged-as-a-door-to-the-future/ […]

  2. Closing the door on some futures: Increasing the cost of a GED « drwilda - December 2, 2012

    […] Because many entry level jobs require at a minimum a high school diploma, the General Education Development Test or GED is often substituted for the high school diploma to show that an individual has reached a basic level of education achievement. https://drwilda.com/2011/11/17/the-ged-as-a-door-to-the-future/ […]

  3. Several states plan to drop the GED because of cost | drwilda - April 17, 2013

    […] Because many entry level jobs require at a minimum a high school diploma, the General Education Development Test or GED is often substituted for the high school diploma to show that an individual has reached a basic level of education achievement. https://drwilda.com/2011/11/17/the-ged-as-a-door-to-the-future/ […]

  4. The evolution of libraries: Los Angeles Public Library to offer high school diplomas | drwilda - January 11, 2014

    […] Because many entry level jobs require at a minimum a high school diploma, the General Education Development Test or GED is often substituted for the high school diploma to show that an individual has reached a basic level of education achievement. https://drwilda.com/2011/11/17/the-ged-as-a-door-to-the-future/ […]

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