LA Unified ending GED tests, awaiting alternatives on paper
Chase Niesner | December 20, 2013
When 2013 comes to a close, LA Unified will stop offering GED tests over concerns about cost and computer-only access. Until the state chooses an alternative that provides a version with paper-and-pencil, degree seekers will have to visit schools outside the district.
“The populations that we serve, especially the adults, are among those who need an option that is not computer based,” Monica Balbuena, Chief Examiner of the district’s GED testing program told LA School Report.
The California Department of Education is not expected to select an alternative test until March. The current provider, Pearson Vue, is offering a new computer-based version for about $140, while two other companies, CTB/McGraw-Hill and ETS, have proposed tests that cost about $70 and include paper-and-pencil versions.
“We’re concerned, but people who will want to take the new GED will take it,” said Balbuena. “It’s a shame the state isn’t choosing something more quickly.”
Mitch Rosin, a spokesman for CTB/McGraw-Hill, said his company is still waiting to hear back from the state after eight months, and many other states, he said, have already chosen one test or the other, and three states have actually chosen to offer all three tests.
CT Turner, a spokesman for the joint-venture between the American Council on Education and Pearson Vue called the GED Testing Service, says LA Unified could make testing-center upgrades to accommodate the new Pearson Vue test.
“We do remain hopeful, but we are also working to convert new testing centers in the LA area,” Turner said. “We really have pretty good coverage, except in the core, where LAUSD used to do the testing.”
Turner said those concerned about the computerization of the GED are “pandering to fear” and noted that the new test is not just about high school equivalency degrees, but also job preparation.
“We have to ensure people have basic digital literacy skills, and we can’t be invested in what the current system is or how we’ve done things for 70 years,” he said. “We don’t want to discourage anyone from taking the test, but we also don’t want to build it for an outlier, someone who is 65.”
Monica Balbuena’s suggestion: “It might be better to wait then to run your credit card.”