Originally created 03/10/02

County's students prepare for GED



AIKEN - Ten years ago, Maureen Allen left high school before she got the chance to walk across the stage and receive her diploma.

As of Monday, the 26-year-old is back in school at the Freedman Parenting Center, studying the new General Educational Development book in preparation for Aiken County's first offering of the new GED exam June 8.

Ms. Allen said she is not apprehensive about taking the revised exam, which many argue is more difficult.

The old test was used for the last time Dec. 31, when almost 400 people crowded two Columbia testing sites to ring in the New Year.

"I guess it is better in a way, because if I was to go to college and (the GED) was easier, college would seem a lot harder," Ms. Allen said.

Two hundred fifty South Carolinians took the first new test March 2 in Columbia and Greenville. The second was administered Saturday in Spartanburg and Darlington.

"We really haven't heard any reaction from anyone that took the test," said David Stout, South Carolina's GED administrator.

The motivation behind the high school equivalency test revision was to accurately reflect the skills and knowledge students need today, said Frank Roberson, the associate superintendent for Aiken County Schools.

Now, only an estimated two-thirds of high school seniors will pass the test. The GED has five portions, covering reading, writing, social studies, science and math. Fewer multiple choice questions are used, longer reading passages have been incorporated, and more real-life material, such as newspaper editorial cartoons, business memos and graphs of economic data, are now included.

In addition, the essay portion is weighed more in the scoring, and the math section requires test-takers to supply their own answers.

With these changes, Dr. Roberson said, when someone receives an equivalency diploma, it is truly equivalent to a South Carolina high school diploma.

The American Council on Education in Washington, which holds exclusive rights to the GED test, began working on the revision three years ago. The last major change was in 1988, Mr. Stout said.

In the initial period after each revision, fewer people will pass the test, Mr. Stout said.

"Once the adult education programs get comfortable with the new test and their instruction methods change and people get accustomed to it, (passage rates) will pick back up," he said.

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 648-1395 or carly.phillips@augustachronicle.com.