The GED has become synonymous with the alternative high school diploma. But it's actually just the brand name of a test — a test that might just have priced itself out of its only market.
Several dozen states are looking for alternatives to the GED high school equivalency test because of recent changes that will make it more expensive and force participants to take the tests on computers without a pencil and paper option.
The GED was created decades ago as a way to help returning World War II veterans get their diplomas and into the workforce. Since that time, it's been used by every state in the country as a way to test students who would like to qualify for a high school equivalency certificate or diploma. But now 40 states and the District of Columbia are participating in a working group to look for alternatives to the GED.
Why the change?
The move comes after the GED Testing Service introduced a version of the test that will roll out in January. It will now be available only in a computer version. It also will double to $120 per student. Many states subsidize all or part of the expense of the exam, so the higher price is not welcome in light of shrinking education budgets. And states that don't cover the costs are upset about passing expensive fees on to students who are generally in a lower income bracket and already have difficulty affording the less expensive version.
Fortunately, test makers are responding to the new demand with several alternatives, tests that are cheaper and will include a pencil-and-paper option. States will make their final decisions on which test to use over the next few months.