FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — The GED is changing and state education officials say those who haven’t completed the test need to go ahead and do so.
A new, more difficult and more expensive test will be in place starting January 2014.
Anyone who has completed some parts of the test, but not all of it, at that time will have to start over from the beginning.
The test for a General Educational Development certificate is updated occasionally, but the current update is the biggest since the program began in 1942.
The new test will be more rigorous overall and require a higher level of math proficiency. The idea is to align the test more closely with the common core standards for math and English now adopted by 46 states, including Tennessee. The standards are meant to ensure every student graduates prepared for college or the workforce.
The new test also will be computer-based, and the cost will increase from an average of $65 to a minimum of $120.
There are between 900,000 and 1 million adults in the state without a high school diploma, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s Adult Education Division. Nearly 29,000 students dropped out of high school in 2011.
Rhonda Booker, Williamson County’s adult education supervisor, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/NzgpnU ) the adults who attend her program have many different reasons for leaving high school. Some have had job opportunities they couldn’t pass up, others had family tragedies and still other just didn’t do well in a traditional high school setting.
She has seen everyone from American Idol contestants to teens who lost parents and had to work.
For some getting the certificate is simply a personal goal.
Country music star Gretchen Wilson didn’t need her GED, but she pursued it anyway, Booker said. Musician John Hiatt also is a graduate of the Williamson County adult education program.
But most people come in seeking to further their opportunities.
Amelia Patterson recently signed up for classes at Williamson County Adult Education offices in Franklin after dropping out of high school in 11th grade.
At the time she was working and taking care of a baby. She always wanted a diploma but it took her 14 years to start working on her GED certificate.
“There were always obstacles in my way,” Patterson said. “I didn’t give up, I just had a lot going on.”
Now 32, Patterson hopes to enroll in the nursing program at Columbia State Community College. She also wants to be a role model for her eight children, especially her eldest, who is now 18 and a young mother.
Patterson said she encourages anyone who will listen to get his or her GED.
“They will see how different they feel about themselves,” she said. “I’m going to hang in there until I get this done. I’m going to make it. I’m going to succeed.”