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Computer-only GED exam spurs competing tests

California tests about 57,000 people for high school equivalency annually, Hernandez said, adding: “Our goal is to allow people to take the test in the format comfortable to them.”

The new GED test is designed to help students transition into careers, not simply be a measurement of high school equivalency, Turner said. The goal was to create “a program to help move them from dropout to being prepared for college and career training programs,” he said.

Test takers can register online and have a more flexible test schedule with the computerized format, Turner said. Students can take one or all five of the test sections at once, rather than the previous two-day time testing schedule.

After the changes to the GED were announced in 2012, two test providers began developing their own exams to meet the demands of states unhappy with the changes. The announcement also spurred a rush of test takers hoping to complete the old exam before the end of 2013. Those who passed portions of the old test will have to start the entire process over with the revamped exam.

The Education Testing Service, a nonprofit organization, developed the High School Equivalency Test, or HiSET. Students can choose to take the exam on computer or paper. The organization began developing the exam after states expressed concern with the cost, accessibility, and content of the new GED exam, said Amy Riker, national executive director for HiSET.

Another test, called the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, or TASC, was created by CTB/McGraw-Hill, a for-profit company.

The company decided to take a transitional approach with the test. In the first year, it will include familiar multiple choice questions, and students can take it on paper or computer, said Michael Johnson, national adult education manager for the company.

Each year, the company hopes to increase the amount of technology involved and steadily make the exam more rigorous, Johnson said.

The Education Testing Service and CTB-McGraw-Hill contend that their tests offer a less costly alternative to the new GED. But Turner claims the new exams simply “replicate what the old GED test did,” adding that states who opt for the other tests are essentially keeping the status quo of the last decade.

Marty Finsterbusch, president of ValueUSA, a nonprofit organization that advocates for adult students, said that test takers are now facing tougher standards with fewer resources. The increased difficulty has not been met with increased training and education for test takers, he said.

“The adult learner is going to be the one who suffers,” he said.

(c) 2014, the Los Angeles Times. Visit the Los Angeles Times online at www.latimes.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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