The Assessment Guide for Educators: A conversation about the resource with GED Testing Service® - Full Transcript - Assessment Discussion List

The Assessment Guide for Educators: A conversation about the resource with GED Testing Service®

Full Transcript



Discussion Dates: April 23 and 24, 2012

Moderator: Marie Cora

Description | Preparation | Guest Participants



Discussion Topics



Welcome Message

Dear colleagues:

Good morning and welcome to our 2-day discussion:

The Assessment Guide for Educators: A conversation about the resource with GED Testing Service® with Martin Kehe, Nicole Chestang, and CT Turner from the GED Testing Service®. Welcome to our guests!

Please note that you should send your questions and comments throughout both days during the discussion.  Send your message to: assessment@lincs.ed.gov.

Also note that our guests will respond to your emails at the close of each day

To download the Assessment Guide for Educators, read the guest bios, and access further information about the new GED test, please read the full announcement at: http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/discussions/assessment/12ged

Please send your comments and questions to the List now!

Thank you and I look forward to this discussion.  

Marie Cora

Assessment Discussion List Moderator

*****

Good morning, and welcome on behalf of the GED Testing Service to our discussion today and tomorrow, regarding the new GED® assessment launching in January 2014 and our Assessment Guide for Educators, the document that describes aspects of our new test.

We at the GED Testing Service are excited about the Assessment Guide for Educators, which was released in February and March, 2012. We have also created a new assessment resources area on our website - www.gedtestingservice.com/assessment - which will become the go-to, authoritative source for all information about the new test.

The Guide contains much of the information that you've been asking for to help you understand the rationale behind and features of the new assessment, and more information will be added to the website through 2012 and 2013 as we approach the implementation of the new test. Many of you who are participating in this discussion today and tomorrow have already downloaded the Guide and have participated in one of the webinars that were sponsored by the GED Testing Service in the past couple of months. The purpose of our forum over these next two days is to engage with you to answer more questions that may have arisen as you have read and thought about the material in the Guide.

Our intent in publishing the Guide was to share as much information as possible as early as possible in the development of the new test, in order to begin to prepare the field for the upcoming changes. Because of the many implications of the general change in the American educational landscape to emphasis on career- and college-readiness (of which the new GED® test is a part), we hope that this discussion will help you to think further about how instruction of adults must change as we move into the future. This change is prompted not simply by an update to the GED® test, but even more so by increased performance expectations we have for our citizens as they enter postsecondary education programs of all types and as they seek success in their careers - so many of which will require credentials beyond the high school diploma.

As a reminder, here is the content that is addressed in the Assessment Guide for Educators:

Chapter one contains an overview of the assessment, and outlines item types and layouts that will appear on each of the four subjects: Literacy, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. It also contains a content terminology short reference list to facilitate discussion around the new assessment.

Chapter Two provides the assessment targets for each of the four test subject areas, contains information about the Depth of Knowledge (DOK) model of cognitive complexity that we are using to guide item development, and discusses the profile and selection of stimulus passages that will appear on the new test.

Chapter Three focuses on constructed response items - both Short Answer (SA) and Extended Response (ER) items - will appear on the new test and how they will be scored.

We are looking forward to furthering the discussion with you.

Thank you,

Nicole Chestang

EVP, External Relations

Martin Kehe

VP, Products

CT Turner

Director, Public Affairs and Government Relations

*****

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Announcing Changes to the Test

The test changes in approximately a year and a half, will there be any advertisement any time soon regarding the changes and the need for those who have not completed to return to the programs before their old scores are invalid? I fear that this will come too late for many who cannot process information quickly and need to complete math or writing.

In addition to that concern, the sheer number of people we have served since 2002 is staggering, it would be nice to be able to alert them early in order to have the resources need to serve them and give them time to do what is necessary to complete before the changes.

Cost is always a concern. I fear that the students we serve will no longer be able to afford to "get an education" since we have partnered with a for profit agency. 

The elephant in the room is "will the GED be able to survive?"  It certainly doesn't look promising at this stage of the game.  We may be pricing ourselves out of business.

These are concerns that we are hearing from students and teachers.

Debra Hissom

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

GED Testing Service is working with the jurisdictions to create a 'Completion Campaign' which will roll out late summer. The focus of this national and local campaign will be to help test-takers who have completed one or more parts but not all of the GED® test to understand what they have left to complete and motivate them to work towards completing the process of earning their credential.

GED Testing Service is confident that the GED® test will be able to survive. The test is needed now more than ever, with nearly 40 million adults in the U.S. lacking a high school credential. Because the stakes are so high in terms of helping our adult population attain the skills that will allow us as a nation to remain competitive in global markets, we are passionate and committed about the need to provide adults with a credential that continues to be meaningful in helping them to obtain and retain employment as well as attaining success in postsecondary education. We believe the risks to be even greater if we did nothing and produced a test that quickly became outdated or didn't provide a stepping stone to better jobs or entry into education or training programs.

*****

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Basic Skills Classes at Libraries

Hello,

We are thinking of creating a basic skills class / GED ("pre") prep class at the library (literacy program) for those that are at a very low level with hopes to be a feed into the adult school's GED program.

Since the adult schools / GED programs are inundated with lower level students, has there been much thought in creating more basic skill classes at the libraries? Paid and volunteer tutors could help accommodate the need to fill the skill gaps before prepping for the GED at the higher level.

Any information or thoughts on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully,

Sandra Barton

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

GED Testing Service is aware of the issue that so many adult learners are functioning at a level of academic skill quite far below the GED® test level. We think it is important to assess these learners and help put them on a path towards attaining their GED® test credential - this is one of the goals of the GED® Diagnostic test which is slated to roll out in 2015. However, GED Testing Service has not yet focused on these earlier-stage learners, though we recognize that it is important for us and others to do so. Your idea of filling in the skill gaps is an important one that we at GED Testing Service would support.

*****

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Change Too Soon

My comments for today reinforce many I've read in the last two days about a widening gap between the GEDTS/Pearson and the people who administer the test and teachers who prepare students for it. The world today is very different from 2002, the last update to the GED. The Internet allows people to communicate and express themselves as never before. In less than 7 days, Netflix lost 800,000 customers because they increased their price and did not adequately explain the reasons for it. The Susan G. Komen fund lost
thousands of funders overnight because they did not listen to their supporters. I'm not a big Twitter user, but I am seeing a lot of chatter about the new GED test among educators and test takers. And the comments are not positive.

We need a healthy and effective GED test. I believe as many have expressed that the dramatic changes you are making to the test are moving too fast for the system. I would support a movement to delay the test for at least a year and hope you will seriously consider this. I would hate to see states move to alternative tests because they cannot adjust to the changes of the GED when a simple delay would ease the transition.

Regards,

Phil Peppis

*****

I have reviewed the CCSS, but my question was in regard to the reference in your Assessment Guide to 'Science Practice' areas. You state that the test will align with these, but do not provide explanation to what these are. It is impossible to prepare new curriculum without an understanding of what will be tested. Please provide this in an update to the Assessment Guide if you can.

My larger issue though, and one that has been discussed between members of this list, but not with the GED TS is the inadequacy of support for teachers, test centers, and the test takers. The 2014 GED test is an ambitious project and one that is way overdue, but with all the work you are doing in creating the test, there seems to be an lack of development and support for those who need to adjust to the test. You state in an email that the changes in the GED test are as great or greater than ever. This demands equal attention to those in AE who are struggling to understand these changes and adjust their programs to them.

Several posts yesterday centered around the movement by many states away from the GED test. This is not surprising since the changes you are making are very sudden and educational systems in general, and adult education is particular does not do well with sudden changes. Basically, you are giving us less than a year to make huge changes and this is hugely inadequate. People are looking for alternatives because the GED TS has become a for-profit entity, and because they are not being responsive to the needs of the test takers and instructors.

There has been a lot of chatter on Twitter and various ed blogs about a move to create a petition to delay the GED test.

It is clear that the AE community is reacting negatively to the dramatic changes you are forcing upon us. Perhaps slowing down the change would be a good way to ease the anxiety and fear that is rampant among teachers and students. Could you give us a reason why delaying the test until 2015 would not be a better solution to all the issues surrounding the test.

Mara Connolly

*****

My humble observation is that the entire process is not about students, it is about corporate ownership of the HS credentialing process. While the idealist in me would like to believe that the new assessment will be a route to college readiness, my inner cynic tells me it will only create more obstacles and barriers for our students who already have so many challenges to overcome.

During one of the webinars, a question was asked about programs that didn't have computers or were so far out in the rural areas that there is not access to the internet or computers for their students, were there any thoughts given to what those programs will do? The answer was along the lines of - well, since "most" jobs need computers, we are doing students a favor by giving them an assessment that will help them along their path to career or academic transition - or some answer that completely did not address the funding cuts, transportation issues, digital divide issues, teacher preparation issues and others that have not been considered in the thinking behind this new "assessment". They aren't even calling it the GED anymore, it's the "2014 assessment".

SO, since we can't change anything on a macro level, our program is developing writing classes that include a computer and keyboard component - we have to teach our students to compose on computer and learn how to navigate successfully. We are also starting our math PD for teachers this fall - using a study circle model and mentoring partnerships - and we have revised our job descriptions for future hires. We are also trying to have our teachers participate in discussions like these and asking them for suggestions on how we can all make a smoother transition. Not having materials available and no information on pricing for the materials that are coming out, including practice tests, adds to the complications.

Finally, the Pell Grant cutting the AtB and 6 credit hour rules is going to exponentially increase the number of people needing our classes. Once people get wind of the change, those panicking to get finished by 2013 will also decide to come back and with decreased funding, lack of teachers and available space, I foresee issues no one at Pearson Vue could ever think of or begin to understand. If Congress wants a literate, job-ready workforce, they should fix it. All they have to do is call me and I'll give them some suggestions =)

Thanks,

Mary Lynn Carver

*****

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College Readiness and the Common Core Standards

I know that this discussion has come to a close, but could you please clarify one more question. I am curious about the curriculum guidelines. The GED Assessment Chapters identify the content for the GED Test. Will there be more content guidelines released for the College Ready Certificate OR is the content that is listed in the assessment guides going to serve the dual purpose of the GED Test AND the College Readiness Content -and the defining factor is the student's test score?

Thank you for considering this question.

Kathy Olesen-Tracey

*****

Just a quick note that the new assessment will present the states with two performance levels - one that tracks with high school performance (the high school equivalency level) and the second yet unnamed performance level (placeholder name of Career and College Ready Endorsement).

CT Turner

*****

I have read the curriculum outline that has been shared in the first 3 chapters of the GED TS guides. These guides discuss the content as it corresponds to the 2014 Assessment and the upcoming GED Test. What does the curriculum outline look like for the higher education credential? When will this outline be released or is the outline that has been shared appropriate for the GED Test AND the higher education credential - meaning there will be no more curriculum additions.

Thank you,

Kathy Olesen-Tracey

*****

As far as change and the new GED Test go, I realize that it's not really the new test itself, but the larger labor market shift it and the new Common Core Standards (so quickly adopted last year) that drives my reactions.

I have mixed feeling about the high school diploma or GED as a job ticket already. It's helpful to have a marker of common/shared level of knowledge/educational attainment (both for employers and for the democratic body politic). And yet I am sure I am not the only adult basic ed instructor who has an anecdote like this-an older man comes to the Adult Learning Center at the tech college in Wausau, central WI, needing to get a GED or be fired when the local paper mill just told him they intended to terminate any employee who didn't have the credential. He faced losing the same job he'd done for twenty years and wanted to do tomorrow, too, unless he could get that GED in short order.

The new GED, which only tracks along behind the new Common Core Standards, just puts in my face more and more forcefully the related consequences of off shoring so much of the labor intensive work into other countries where labor costs are so much lower. All the sources out there say this isn't going to be reversed. And the labor market seems to show a continuing shift to work that requires computer knowledge/comfort and higher level skills (health, insurance, information related services), less need for manual labor (though agriculture remains important, higher productivity means this doesn't mean increasing the number of workers, so less skilled workers find their main options in service industries, restaurants, hotels, fast food and other limited pay work).

So the new GED marks the shift-in my high school days (yes, long ago, mid-60s), we had a voc-tech track and a college track; now they are becoming the same. But what concerns me is what now for those who never intended or thought they needed to go to college in order to be able to enter the workforce and get a life sustaining wage? The world has shifted under their feet. This has been coming; the new GED Test just puts this forcefully right up in my face. What is going to happen to those who were not well served by their past education or who never saw they needed to go to college, just to get a job?

I don't know that the country is grappling with this directly; it is being forced to and is doing it as often in the past, piecemeal, as one has no other choice.

I do hope that there can be at least a two-level GED pass so that those who complete it can at least be eligible for some work and come back if and when they can to get more training to become college ready and tackle the higher ed courses they need to get that higher tech job.

I think that a good deal of the energy around the new GED Test has really to do with this world shift, not unlike the shift from farming to sheep raising the hit England in the Elizabethan period putting so many off the land and into extreme poverty and homelessness.

Yes one year for this shift to computerized testing, one year to adjust to the qualitative shift in what is being asked of those who must take it in order to get a GED work ticket, one year to get the rest of one's testing completed or have to start all over again, is not much time, but it's not the big driver pushing my level of concern up so high.

Arthur Upham

*****

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Computer Questions

Thank you for another opportunity to ask for further clarity regarding the coming GED exam changes. I have several questions, but I'd like to start with these three regarding CBT.

  1. I understand that the essay on the Literacy Test will be scored by computers. Can you explain how the GED Testing Service will take into account the effect of the large populations of immigrant students who take the GED exam, in terms of setting the standards for the essay and short-answer responses?
  2. I have heard several GED Testing Service representatives cite a study which found that when the GED test was given on computer, there was no effect on the outcome. I would like to read that study. Where can I find it?
  3. Was the study conducted using all of the new item-formats of the coming GED exam or was it conducted giving the current version of the GED on computer?

Thanks,

Mark Trushkowsky

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

  1. All short answer and extended response items that appear on the new assessment forms will be field-tested with a representative population of GED test-takers. This population will reflect the range of demographics and proficiency levels of GED test-takers overall. The items will be scored by teams of human readers using a model in which items are 'double-scored with resolution,' meaning that each response is scored by two different readers, and any score differences between the two readers of more than one point are sent to a third expert scorer for adjudication. The human scoring process results in a collection of exemplar items at each score point that represent the standard of performance at that score level. These exemplar responses are then used to train an automated scoring engine, which replicates the human scoring process for each operational item. In this way, the characteristics of the wide range of GED test-takers are taken into account in the scoring model.
  2. The study was part of the work that was undertaken in 2009 and 2010 to determine whether test scores from the 2002 Series paper-based testing mode were comparable to those from the 2002 Series computer-based testing mode. A summary of the study can be found at http://www.gedcbt.org/research.html. Click on the link for Comparability Study Overview.
  3. The study was conducted using the current 2002 Series version of the test.  The new item formats are undergoing testing this year in field-testing, usability studies, and cognitive lab studies.

*****

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Corrections Issues

As teachers within the Massachusetts Department of Correction, we share many concerns about the computer based testing offered by the new Pearson GED. Some of these questions may relate specifically to an incarcerated program, others do not.

Thank you for your consideration.

  1. What kind of consideration has been made to students that do not have regular access to a computer? All of our students do not have access to a computer so practicing skills like typing or toggling is next to impossible unless, they already have prior knowledge before entering the correctional system.
  2. Has there been any discussion as to what to do about students that cannot type quickly, hence, influencing their ability to pass the new GED test?
  3. The current math test is composed primarily of word problems. Will the new test continue to be word problem based or will there be problems that are strictly computation? Will there be a mix of the two types of questions?
  4. Is there a possibility that the roll-out for the new GED could be delayed a year for correctional facilities to allow them enough lead time to adequately prepare both the students and get the computer resources? The facilities are not wired for computers, many do not have the space and the students' computer skills are non-existent.

Thank you for your attention. We look forward to hearing your responses.

Meghan Crowley

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

  1. GED Testing Service and Pearson VUE currently have a team of individuals working on the range of issues that impact testing in a corrections environment. Access to computers for practice is an issue that will be addressed in the corrections solution for GED® testing.
  2. As noted in a previous response, the field-testing of items that will be conducted beginning in the summer of 2012, will provide GED Testing Service and the field with more information on the relative importance of typing speed in test-taker's ability to respond to short answer and extended response items. We will provide more information on this aspect of the new test in the fall of 2012.
  3. As noted in the Assessment Guide for Educators, the new GED® test will include increased emphasis on higher order thinking skills, as opposed to emphasis on mechanics or procedures. However, computation is an important basic skill that is embedded in the Common Core, so there will continue to be at least a few items that assess a test-taker's performance on basic computational skills.
  4. Again, the full solution for the wide range of correctional facilities across the nation is still under development. As soon as more information about the corrections solution is available, we will share it with the field.

*****

Based on your response to Assessment #3397, you mentioned the that Item Sampler will be a web based tool for students and instructors to interact with both the test content and type of questions. In our correctional facilities, students do not have access to Internet access. Will those at Pearson offer a non-web based type of software that will allow for a similar experience? I understand from your previous response to my question that GED Testing Service and Pearson VUE are working on a range of issues that will impact those in a correctional facility, but when will this information become available? With approximately a year and a half left until the new roll-out, there is very little concrete information available. It seems that the correctional system was overlooked when developing the new test and its corresponding technologies.

Will the new GED have the same guidelines for sunset scores? In the event students do not pass, will test scores remain valid for three years or will that change as well?

Meghan Crowley

*****

Hi all,

I have been following the GED test discussion closely and although I have not read every email regarding the discussion of the new GED test, I am wondering how this test will be administered inside of jails. None of my county (4) jails, at the moment, allow internet inside the classroom or allow the inmates to have access to any internet inside the facilities. We, also, have not been able to even find or purchase stand alone Offical Practice Tests (OPT) on CD's or stand alone TABE assessments so that the students can practice taking tests in a timed situation on a computer. How will students inside the facilities be able to take the test and who will pay for it? Anyone have any answers?

Thanks Bobbi Smith

*****

Bobbi,

I understand the complexity of dealing with incarcerated situations, but remember this not an internet based exam. It is computer based. GEDTS continues to stress that all of us need to emphasize that it is not an on-line test.

Gary Mills

*****

Thanks Gary, this is correct and no live internet connection is needed at the time testing takes place.

CT Turner

*****

You can see what the test on computer looks like on the tutorial at GEDcomputer.com, as well as the entry portal for test-takers looking to register and schedule for GED testing on computer.

You resources about the GED test on computer, including how registration and scheduling works (though the interface changes periodically based on test-taker feedback and usability data) at www.GEDcbt.org -- specifically under the "resources" tab.

There is no cost to become a certified Pearson Vue testing center. The only requirement, beyond the basic technical and space requirements (which can be found at www.PearsonVUE.com/PVTC) is the basic security package that includes a camera and electronic signature pad (I've been told that this can be purchased directly through Pearson VUE or you can purchase separately as long as the same equipment/models are used).

CT Turner

*****

Can you tell me what this looks like for a Department of Corrections instillation

Thanks,

Kathy Tracey

*****

Being an instructor in a Department of Corrections facility, this is an issue that is being discussed in my area. There is talk of trying to obtain lap-tops (those may have to be taken back and forth by the tester - which is not very convenient when we can test as many as 10 people at a time), and trying to find a place to lock them at the jail.

There is also an issue with wi-fi access in the facility - we can't even get cell phone connection.

At one point, there was a rumor going around that written tests would still be available in certain conditions. Maybe this should be one of them.

Linda Crooks

*****

The GED 2014 is a computerized test but is not online. Wi-fi or any other internet connections are not required. The test is downloaded onto computer the night before so they could easily be placed on the laptops. We use a COW (computer on wheels) at our local department of corrections so all computers can be wheeled to the station needed.

Hope this is helpful.

Virginia G. Simmons, PhD

******

What about the various security protocols? Am I misunderstanding the actual testing environment? When at COABE, I was able to hear several state leaders discuss CBT in corrections. They were under the impression that there had to be testing cubicles surrounding the student while testing and that computers had to be at minimum 18 inches apart.

The concern wasn't that they needed computers, but that they needed designated computers in a different type of testing environment, and the potential security issues. Again- perhaps I misunderstood their general concern so I am hoping for clarification.

Kathy Olesen-Tracey

*****

We have been told 4 feet apart, cubicles not necessary. Remember also to clean your mind of present environments. Doesn't have to be groups. Can be one at a time. Can be working on different subtests.

Tests do need to be downloaded on computers but just for that testing period. We will use our computers for many different purposes.

Virginia Simmons 

*****

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Cost Concerns

Of all the things that frighten me about the new test, the wild rumors about the increased cost have me most concerned. Most of my GED students are either homeless, unemployed, employed part-time, or employed at minimum wage.

I understand that each state sets its own price, but how much will the GED Testing Service charge a state for one student to take all the tests once? And will the GED Testing Service charge the state for a student to take a retest? If so, how much?

Many thanks for allaying my fears.

Peace, friends,

Pat Fina

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

The price of the current GED® test to jurisdictions is $24 per content area, or $120 for the entire battery. As you correctly note, the price that each jurisdiction charges the test-taker for the battery may be somewhat different, depending on the policies of the individual jurisdiction. Since there is no difference in the amount of work that needs to be done for retakes vs. first-time test-takers, the price for retakes is the same per part as for the initial testing.

The transition from paper-based testing (PBT) to computer-based testing (CBT) has prompted all kinds of discussions about the cost of testing, and that is a good thing. In fact, the cost of the current paper-based testing program had been unexamined for decades, primarily because it is a very decentralized system with costs sitting in various 'buckets' in different departments, organizations and entities. However, when one looks at the present PBT system, with all its various participants and inefficiencies, the actual costs of administering CBT are not very different from PBT.

We have been working with a number of states to determine the actual costs to deliver the 7.5 hour paper-based test and in most instance have actually found the test delivery to cost less on computer. In fact, just last week at COABE, an administrator from a New England state told attendees that after fully examining the costs of delivery in her state that GED testing on computer will cost less overall. The challenge for all of us in the adult education ecosystem will be to keep the current subsidies/monies coming from CBOs - like community colleges in the testing system to continue to subsidize testing for those who are the most in need of assistance. We already have considerable amounts of scholarship monies in the system - as reported in the last testing center profile study and references in our last panel discussion on the listserv - and we believe local employers, foundations and others can be tapped to support the easy-to-use voucher program that has been set up. To that point, quite soon, one state that has just begun testing on computer will announce an extremely large program to provide vouchers for test-takers that is funded by a local employer.

*****

In addition to the cost is the on-line registration and payment system. Many, many of our students do not have checking accounts, much less a credit card.

Nancy Wilkinson, Director

*****

The recurring theme on Twitter and among adult educators is concern about the increased cost of the test. The cost of the current (2002) test has doubled with the move to computer-based testing (CBT). Rumors are that when the new 2014 test comes out, Pearson will increase the price to $400 to the test centers.

My greatest concern is the widening gap between the GEDTS/Pearson and the people who work and benefit from adult education. Raising the cost to take a harder test only benefits the company who sells the test. Higher costs drive away the people who need a GED most.

Unemployment among high school non-completers is the highest of all demographic groups. It seems that the GEDTS/Pearson group are not listening to their constituents, the students, teachers, and test centers. Moving to a CBT is a good thing in the long run, but computer literacy is lowest among our students. We are struggling with how to teach our test takers basic computer literacy and keyboarding so that they are not penalized with the new CBT.

Dennis Tillman

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

It is important that rumors be recognized for what they are - rumor and not fact. The fact is that the price of the new GED® test to jurisdictions has not yet been finalized, but it will be shortly. What we can say in this forum is that our President Randy Trask said last week at COABE that every possible effort is being made to ensure the cost is very close to the current CBT test cost of $120.

Also, it is precisely because unemployment is so high for high school non-completers that a retooling of the GED® test is needed - to provide adult learners with a credential that provides concrete evidence of critical skills and knowledge that are needed for success in our 21st century economy. From health care settings to construction sites, entry-level jobs require candidates to be able to use basic technology.

*****

Following with Dennis' concerns about cost of testing I figured that by offering testing over computer would lower costs because there would no longer be paper protocol. Companies are not going to be employed to produce paper versions. Special safes in special rooms will no longer be needed to securely hold tests. Similarly there are rumors of robo-readers to grade both the Literacy and Social Studies essay, thereby cutting the cost of the current dual reader evaluation system with associated man hours. Something just does not add up, I see a lot of cost savings but then the cost of the GED doubles.

I am also ready to see test sample questions so I can start training students appropriately.

Barry Burkett

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

Just to be clear, the cost of the GED® test has not doubled. The cost of the GED® test on computer is roughly the same as what the paper-based testing system costs (even less, by some estimates see our response to posting 3383). The difference is that the paper-based testing costs are relatively 'invisible'- they are spread over a variety of buckets that often make them difficult to ascertain. CBT will result in better, more complete data for use by test-takers, adult educators, employers, and others.

Sample test questions for the 2014 GED® test will be released in July 2012 in our Item Sampler, a web tool that will allow test-takers and adult education professionals to see and interact with representative test content and the types of items they can expect to see on the new assessment.

*****

Hi all - I recently retired from my position as director of a large adult literacy program in the City University of NY after 35 years in the field and have been working with several groups in NYC concerned about the introduction of the new 2014 exam. I was surprised to see, in CT. Turner's response to comments about the possible cost of the new exam, that one program person thought the computer-based exam might actually cost less. I think it's important to note that many, many programs in NYC, and I'm assuming throughout the country as well, are not appropriately computer-equipped to prepare their students for a computerized exam, not to mention the additional up front costs that are ikely to be associated with the new exam such as: staff development to prepare instructors in the new content and performance standards; thepurchase of the new practice tests and assessment tests. In NYC of course, we are precluded by law from charging for the GED (all the actual testing costs are born by the NY State Education Department), so even if the new GED exam were to remain at the current Pearson rate
of $120 (a most unlikely prospect), it will result in many fewer adults sitting for the exam in New York State.

Mae Dick

*****

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Criteria and Cut Scores

Thank you, Martin and CT, for meeting with us. We have been following informational resources closely, and one of our most pressing questions for the field at large concerns the cutoff scores for the "standard" GED and the higher GEDTS credential score. Ideas are flying around web forums, so any clarification that you can provide is most appreciated. Specifically, will both scores be based on the Common Core State Standards as well as the often-mentioned expectations for college readiness and workplace skills?

From my reading, it seems clear that even the lower cutoff score will require substantially more skills of our students, not just the higher score, especially in the math and writing domains as well as a much deeper grasp of vocabulary and related concepts. Many adult educators in the field are concerned about "lower-level" students, who take longer to pass the GED currently. We wonder what will happen to this substantial percentage of students in 2014.

One phrase I've heard is that for HS students as well as GED students, "8th grade is the new 10th grade."

Stephanie Moran

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

When discussing the new GED® test, it is critical to distinguish between content standards and performance standards. While it is true that the underlying content of the test will be the same as we measure high school equivalency and career - and college-readiness, the performance standards and expectations for these two levels are apt to be different. Of course, in an ideal world, there would be no difference between the performance of someone who is deemed high school equivalent and someone who is deemed career- and college-ready. We know, though, that current high school graduation standards across the nation do not yet reflect performance at the career-and college-ready level - in fact, most students have not received the level of instruction that would enable them to perform at that higher level.

For these reasons, it is important that the high school equivalency standard for the new GED® assessment reflect the actual performance of graduating high school seniors - a group of students who have not received instruction in career- and college-readiness content, but who, nonetheless, will be receiving high school diplomas. By conducting a standardization study in fall 2013 with a diverse national sample of high school seniors reflecting the wide range of students who are expected to graduate from high school in spring 2014, the GED Testing Service will ensure that the high school equivalency cut point on our new test has parity with the performance expectations of current high school graduates - just as is the case on the 2002 Series test.

Setting of performance standards is always accompanied by a certain amount of anxiety - no matter which testing program, people always worry that the new performance standards will be unattainable and will leave people 'behind.' Anchoring the high school cut scores to actual, empirically-obtained performance of graduating high school seniors will help to ensure that the performance standards for adults remain fair and equitable. At the same time, since the basis of the test is founded on career- and college-ready content, examinees who perform at the high school equivalency level will receive feedback on areas they would need to address to score at the higher level.

*****

I am an ABE and GED instructor at a large adult school. I am responsible for curriculum development and purchase of instructional materials. In reviewing the Assessment Guide I can see why many of our instructors are anxious and fearful of the 2014 GED test. The new test clearly represents a major raising of the bar for competency for our adult learners.

The math portion of the test will now require 55% of the instruction on algebra. This requires a complete rework of our math curriculum. Our instructors do not have the time, since most are part time employees, nor the skill to rewrite their math programs. We are also struggling to answer the recurring question by our learners. . . "Why do I need to learn algebra to become a nurse?"

The science test content specifications (pg 2.12) says that "Each item on the Science Test will be aligned to both one science practice and one content topic." The Assessment Guide does not include any material about what "Science Practice" areas are. How are we to rework on science curriculum without this material?

Further, the Social Studies, Science, and Literacy sections are based on a totally different thinking structure called Depth of Knowledge (DOK) rather on the time tested and familiar Bloom’s Taxonomy. DOK is very little used in education, and more to the point, there is virtually no content curriculum written to this knowledge framework.

The goals of the new GED test are very ambitious. Certainly, adult education needs to undergo major changes to better prepare our learners for college and careers. But the Adult Education system is very stressed because of shrinking funding, and rolling out a test that represents such huge changes seems to be too much, too soon.

Mara Connolly

*****

Mara,

I do agree that the new test will certainly be difficult for both instructors and students. But you can tell the potential nurses that they will use algebra ALL the time...dosing of medication is algebra!!

Kate

Kathleen Meilink

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

GED Testing Service certainly understands that the magnitude of the changes that are being made to the test are greater than has been seen in decades, if ever. Those of us involved in large-scale assessments in other contexts have seen similar reactions to changes in content and structure of other tests. The question remains, however, 'how can we best serve adult learners?' GED Testing Service firmly believes that adults need to be prepared for the rigors of jobs and of the postsecondary education and training programs that many will need to complete to obtain or retain their jobs. We believe that it is in the best interests of adults to be measured on content and skills that accurately reflects the expectations of today's marketplace. To do anything less than this is a disservice to adults testing them on skills and knowledge that are not representative of the situations in which they will shortly find themselves.

The rigors of the content on which they will be assessed through the new GED® test will be balanced by the performance expectations, which, as noted in an earlier response, will be reflective at the high school equivalency performance level of graduating high school seniors. This will result in the equitable treatment of adult learners being able to earn a high school diploma on the same basis as their high school student counterparts, but also to receive feedback on their level of attainment of career- and college-ready competencies.

And as several discussion participants have correctly noted, math skills are important in a variety of occupations, including nursing, both through direct use of math skills, but also through application of the reasoning skills that are important in math but have application to a wide variety of circumstances.

In regards to the Science and Social Studies practices that will be addressed on the new test, those practices are detailed in Chapter 2 of the Assessment Guide for Educators (Science is on pages 2.28 and 2.29 and Social Studies is on pages 2.38 and 2.39). All of these practices are linked back to the Common Core instructional frameworks (http://www.corestandards.org) so that adult educators can reference how those practices may need to be reflected in instruction.

Finally, while the depth-of-knowledge (DOK) framework is not yet widely used in adult education circles, it is very commonly now used in K-12 programs. The Assessment Guide for Educators, Chapter 2, pages 2.3 through 2.7 has charts that will help a professional who is new to DOK make the transition from Bloom's taxonomy.

*****

As a professional-technical instructor in a medical program, my wife says the feedback she receives from her advisory board is that they view a requirement for strong math skills not just for the math, but it demonstrates students have critical thinking skills for the workplace.

Gary Mills

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

Gary, we at GED Testing Service agree with you, and this reality is one thing that is driving us to make these changes to the test at this time.

*****

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Financial Aid

(For further discussion on financial aid, see the transcript Alternatives to the GED/What Do Employers Want?)

Hello Martin and C.T.

Thanks for again being willing to answer this wide range of questions in this discussion. Someone asked me a question this afternoon that I would like to pass on to you:
Do you know if a decision has been made yet by the U.S. Department of Education about which 2014 GED® performance level (high school equivalency or college and career readiness) will be required to qualify for Pell grants and other federal financial aid? If so, which level? If no decision has been made yet, do you - or does someone from the U.S. Department of Education who may be participating in this discussion - know when the answer will be available?

Thanks,

David J. Rosen

*****

As a community college employee who works primarily with adult learners, I am very interested in answers to these questions. One other item: if an individual earns a GED and after 3 or 4 years decides they would like to attend college, will a re-test to college level be required for financial aid?

Maryann Touitou

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

We have not yet engaged in any discussions about this with the US Department of Education and do not currently have a timeline for when this will be addressed, but will add it to our list of actions to investigate. However, we suspect it unlikely that the Pell Grant eligibility requirement in 2014 would be above the high school equivalency performance level - since it is expected that virtually all (if not all) states will still issue their state high school equivalency credential based on that level in 2014.

*****

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Further Questions

  • How many versions of the Practice Test will there be, initially?
  • At what cost, approximately (relative to the actual test)?
  • What about the age-waiver for minors?
  • Will that still basically consist of passing an OPT (certain version with certain score)?
  • Can a person take whichever subject area, whenever they wish (for both 'practice' and 'actual')?
  • Will there be time requirements between practice [or 'actual'] test-sessions?
  • For example, at least 30 days between sessions, or proof of completing a study-course?
  • How soon after the test will a test-taker know if they passed and with what method (by e-mail)
  • How long for the diploma to be issued?
  • Will the diploma be sent directly to the address the test-taker specifies (such as residence) or to the Pearson Vue test-site for pick-up?
  • Will states establish criteria for ID purposes, such as now in Miami-Dade, FL, where some sites insist on both a FL I.D. and social security card (with matching names), while others waive having to show the SS card?
  • How about showing state residency, now that Adult Ed students in Florida must pay a course fee in adult ed courses and are required to show state residency to pay the lesser fee?
  • Will the diploma specify endorsements, such as 'Math' or 'Writing', if the student meets a certain score?
  • To what extent are the questions considered cross-discipline questions?
  • Will the new test allow for a central database of scores from all states, so that if a student moves to another state, they won't have to have scores transferred?
  • What is the general timeline for Pearson Vue to approve a new test-location?

Thank you,

Karin Ann Miller

*****

Cut-Scores and Credentials:

  1. Within the mathematics test, will each problem be worth the same amount or will some questions have more "weight"?
  2. Will certain problems on the test be "college and career-readiness" determining problems, requiring a student to answer those to earn the higher of the two credentials? Or, will the college and career-readiness credential be based on students earning a particular score, regardless of which problems were answered correctly to earn that score?

Career-Readiness Credential:

What are the assessment targets for career-readiness credential? What reports/studies were used by the GED Testing Service to determine what skills qualify someone as career-ready?

Cost:

How do you expect the increase in the cost of the exam to affect access to high school equivalency diplomas?

Thank you again for returning to this forum to respond to questions from the field!

Mark Trushkowsky

*****

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LD Accomodations

What testing accommodations will be allowed to testers on the CBT? Currently people can qualify for additional time, use of color filters, calculator on both sections, scribe, reader, etc. Will these options be available? Will accommodations be expanded?

Barry Burkett

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

The new GED® test will have all of the familiar accommodations that test-takers have today, which you list above. Moreover, however, the new test is being designed with "universal design" principles in mind, so that the test (even without accommodations) will be accessible to the broadest possible audience. In addition, some of the features (such as text and graphic zoom) will be available to all test-takers as accessibility features rather than accommodations. Finally, because the computer system will handle the vast majority of accommodations directly, accommodations will be more easily administered at the testing centers, thus providing assurance that test-takers requiring accommodations are ensured to receive those accommodations.

*****

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Mathematics Test and Calculator

Under the content parameters for the GED Mathematics test, in the Assessment Guide (2.18), it says, "The CCSS include Standards for Mathematical Practice, which describe the types of practices, behaviors, in mathematics that are essential to the mastery of mathematical content. One of the most important practices is modeling, which emphasizes the application of mathematics to real-life work situations as well as to academic problems in the fields other than mathematics itself. Therefore, the GED Mathematics Test will include modeling tasks that will require candidates to apply mathematics in a real-life context."

The Common Core State Standards describe the Standards for Mathematical Practice as follows: "The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe varieties of expertise that mathematics educators at all levels should seek to develop in their students. These practices rest on important "processes and proficiencies" with longstanding importance in mathematics education. The first of these are the NCTM process standards of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. The second are the strands of mathematical proficiency specified in the National Research Council's report Adding It Up: adaptive reasoning, strategic competence, conceptual understanding (comprehension of mathematical concepts, operations and relations), procedural fluency (skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently and appropriately), and productive disposition (habitual inclination to see mathematics as sensible, useful, and worthwhile, coupled with a belief in diligence and one's own efficacy)."

  1. How did the GED Testing Service come to the conclusion that one practice could be separated from all of the other mathematical practices?
  2. How did the GED Testing Service come to the decision that modeling was the most important practice?
  3. What about the other seven standards for mathematical practice that are set forth by the Common Core?

Thank you.

Mark Trushkowsky

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

GED Testing Service had to define a focused set of indicators for the new assessment and math modeling was the most applicable practice for us to focus on for a large-scale on-demand assessment, considering evidence from ACT on those skills and competencies most predictive of success in career and college. Of course, good instruction incorporates all of the math practices, but a 75-minute math test had to be ruthlessly focused on a slim, predictive set of skills.

*****

Hi,

I was wondering if the math test will require a calculator and if so what calculator?

Thanks,

Margaret Jean Lyons

*****

Hi Jean, from what I know about the new test, the entire math section will require a calculator but I am unsure as to which one at this point.

Meredith Lowman

*****

At the presentation about the GED at COABE, they indicated that the calculator would be available on the computer. They did mention a model, but I must admit I can't remember specifically which one. I do think it was a Texas Instrument model.

Cheryl Hagerty

MTC ABLE

*****

It is my understanding that it will be virtual.

Susan Lyons

*****

Hello, I heard this info about the calculator yesterday - that it will be built into the test (accessed on the computer)...don't know if it is needed for the entire test or not...

Rhonda Booker Long

*****

At the GED conference (MAETC), we were told that it is not set in stone as to use of calculator, yet probably. The type will be the one that the computer offers in the GED test...not one that you can bring to the computer lab....

Marilyn Reichardt 

*****

The calculator will be a pull down embedded in the test program.

Debra Artley

*****

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Mathematics Test and Calculator

Under the content parameters for the GED Mathematics test, in the Assessment Guide (2.18), it says, "The CCSS include Standards for Mathematical Practice, which describe the types of practices, behaviors, in mathematics that are essential to the mastery of mathematical content. One of the most important practices is modeling, which emphasizes the application of mathematics to real-life work situations as well as to academic problems in the fields other than mathematics itself. Therefore, the GED Mathematics Test will include modeling tasks that will require candidates to apply mathematics in a real-life context."

The Common Core State Standards describe the Standards for Mathematical Practice as follows: "The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe varieties of expertise that mathematics educators at all levels should seek to develop in their students. These practices rest on important "processes and proficiencies" with longstanding importance in mathematics education. The first of these are the NCTM process standards of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. The second are the strands of mathematical proficiency specified in the National Research Council's report Adding It Up: adaptive reasoning, strategic competence, conceptual understanding (comprehension of mathematical concepts, operations and relations), procedural fluency (skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently and appropriately), and productive disposition (habitual inclination to see mathematics as sensible, useful, and worthwhile, coupled with a belief in diligence and one's own efficacy)."

  1. How did the GED Testing Service come to the conclusion that one practice could be separated from all of the other mathematical practices?
  2. How did the GED Testing Service come to the decision that modeling was the most important practice?
  3. What about the other seven standards for mathematical practice that are set forth by the Common Core?

Thank you.

Mark Trushkowsky

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

GED Testing Service had to define a focused set of indicators for the new assessment and math modeling was the most applicable practice for us to focus on for a large-scale on-demand assessment, considering evidence from ACT on those skills and competencies most predictive of success in career and college. Of course, good instruction incorporates all of the math practices, but a 75-minute math test had to be ruthlessly focused on a slim, predictive set of skills.

*****

Hi,

I was wondering if the math test will require a calculator and if so what calculator?

Thanks,

Margaret Jean Lyons

*****

Hi Jean, from what I know about the new test, the entire math section will require a calculator but I am unsure as to which one at this point.

Meredith Lowman

*****

At the presentation about the GED at COABE, they indicated that the calculator would be available on the computer. They did mention a model, but I must admit I can't remember specifically which one. I do think it was a Texas Instrument model.

Cheryl Hagerty

MTC ABLE

*****

It is my understanding that it will be virtual.

Susan Lyons

*****

Hello, I heard this info about the calculator yesterday - that it will be built into the test (accessed on the computer)...don't know if it is needed for the entire test or not...

Rhonda Booker Long

*****

At the GED conference (MAETC), we were told that it is not set in stone as to use of calculator, yet probably. The "type" will be the one that the computer offers in the GED test...not one that you can bring to the computer lab....

Marilyn Reichardt 

*****

The calculator will be a pull down embedded in the test program.

Debra Artley

*****

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Norming Process

Can you give a detailed description of the process that will be used to norm the GED 2014 edition with graduating high school students?

To get at some of my concerns, I'm including an answer given by GEDTS during the September Assessment LINCS discussion on the topic of norming, with some of my questions/comments.

1. GEDTS - It is very important to have a representative, motivated sample involved in the standardization sample in order to establish cut scores that are reflective of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the typical high-school graduate.

My question - Are you seeking to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of a typical-high school graduate or of a very motivated high school graduate? If it is a typical-high school graduate you are trying to target, then isn't a spectrum of motivation good - some high school graduates are a lot more motivated than many of their peers? This is a very important issue - I think students who pass the GED test should be able to do what a typical-high school graduate can do.  No less, and certainly not more.

2. GEDTS - In order to enhance the motivation of the standardization sample, we are considering a number of incentives that may include monetary gift cards, books and/or curriculum materials that may be of interest to the test taker, subsidized testing fees for other tests that students may need for college entrance and/or to establish workplace readiness, raffles for technology products (e.g., such as a tablet computer, IPod etc.) etc. We are also considering a special raffle for students who perform well in the test in order to enhance motivation to perform at their best.

My question - If you believe that giving students incentives will increase their performance, would that throw off the results, since you are norming it for students who will not be receiving such tangible and instant rewards for their performance? And how would you compensate for the fact that many of your incentives are geared towards attracting successful and motivated students? If it is a choice, you are bound to have self-selection and what kinds of high-school graduates would be more likely to step forward?

3. GEDTS - We will also look at other data to use in conjunction with test scores. We will be administering a survey that includes questions regarding course taking patterns, grades, and questions that measure motivation, drive etc.

My question - This sounds like it might identify the most highly-motivated high school students, not typical high school students. Doesn't a HS graduate, who doesn't have high grades and took easy classes in high school, belong in a sample group of typical high school graduates?

4. GEDTS - We can also use psychometric techniques to examine patterns in item performance to determine if students may have lost motivation at some point during the test. Students that show evidence of lack of motivation may be dropped from the final analysis once we examine a variety of statistics and other information to inform our decision of the final sample.

My question - What kind of psychometric techniques do you have to distinguish between a student who has lost motivation at some point during the test as opposed to a student who starts struggling at some point during the test, either because of content or the duration? If you drop students who demonstrated a "lack of motivation" because they struggled or got tired during the lengthy test from the final analysis, wouldn't that be creaming the results of "typical-high school graduates"?

I appreciate how complicated these questions are, not to mention how many there are, but this issue is a huge one with very serious implications for all of our students.  Again, I'm grateful for the opportunity to hear the GEDTS thinking around the norming process, and everything else.  Thank you.

Mark Trushkowsky

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

1. The process of standard-setting for the new GED test is a complex one, and all of the details are still being designed. GED Testing Service expects to have the standard-setting process designed by the third quarter of 2012, including inputs from key stakeholder groups, and the standard-setting process will be completed during 2013.

The use of the term "motivated" in our discussion back in September is somewhat different from the way that your question uses it in terms of a "motivated high school graduate." Motivation as it relates to standard-setting simply means that the test-takers who participate in the standardization study need to put forth their best effort on the test - that is, they cannot simply answer the questions mindlessly to get to the end of the exam quickly. Instead, no matter what their level of skills or ability, they need to approach the test seriously. These "motivated" test responses provide the empirical data for us to be able to set the standards on the new test such that the high school equivalency performance level represents requirements that are neither so high as to represent levels of achievement far above that demonstrated by recent high school graduates (and, as such, arbitrarily unfair to adult examinees) nor so low as to threaten the credibility of the high school equivalency credential.

2. The incentives that were presented in the September discussion are no longer being considered in that form. GED Testing Service is looking into alternatives that will take what is essentially a "low-stakes" testing event and yet incent students to take the test seriously and try their best, even though the test results do not "count" for a course grade or any other similar outcome.

3. The survey will be used not to disqualify test-taker data from being used, but to understand the level of effort that students have put into the test, and therefore how that level of effort needs to be considered when examining the resulting test data that will be used to set the performance standards.

4. Mark, we appreciate your great questions. When we examine item response data, we can look at not only how test-takers respond (e.g., if they leave items blank), but also how long they spend on each item. For example, if test-takers are putting forth effort but are struggling with items, they may spend a significant amount of time on an item, and yet still answer it (or even leave it blank). On the other hand, test-takers may simply rush through the test ­ answering items randomly at a rapid pace where it is obvious that the test-taker is simply selecting answers without even reading the items. Those are the types of information that are considered when evaluating the quality of the data. There are other analyses that are used to determine test-taker fatigue or lack of time (e.g., 'not reached' analyses that look at items that a test-taker didn't have time to complete). Any decision to eliminate data is not taken lightly but is done with an eye to reduce the impact of data that is deemed not to be truly representative of the sample as a whole.

*****

I was under the impression from earlier discussions, that the new test would not be normed on HS students in a similar fashion to the norming process for the 2002 and earlier exams. Am I mistaken about that? Can you speak in more detail about the norming process Pearson is planning and how you will ensure that the process will include representative populations with regard to such characteristics as race, class, and economic status?

Mae Dick

*****

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Official Practice Tests

When will the Official Practice Tests for the new GED be available, please?

Will they be taken on the computer?

If so, will students be able to take them in their school's computer lab?

How will teachers access the student's answers to grade the non-multiple-choice items?

Thank you.

Pat Fina

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

The first practice test for the new GED® assessment will be released in September 2013.

The new practice test will be primarily delivered on computer.

The new computer-based practice test is being designed to be accessed in a variety of locations, including administration in an adult education program as well as (for test-takers who are not enrolled in an adult education program) at home or in another location such as a public library.

Beginning in 2014, the practice test will be scored by computer. In the 2013 version, sample responses will be provided to test-takers for instructional purposes, so instructors will not be scoring the test at all.

*****

At PAACE Conference this year, I believe it was a representative from Pearson Vue who stated that Official GED Practice Tests will be available for the new online 2014 test at a cost of $50 per practice test. Would someone please comment on this?

Thank you,

Sandy Scanlon

*****

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Paper versus Computer

Would the panel please address the issue of computer vs. paper testing as options for taking the GED test? MS is one of three pilot states already offering the computerized version of the GED test. The students who have taken the computer version of the test have done extremely well. This, however, is not a surprise because the students selected have all been Skill Level 6 candidates. I certainly understand, and endorse, the need for the computer based test, raising performance standards, and the need for transitioning, but my overriding concern is for the students who lack computer skills. It seems that by mandating a computer only test based policy, we are placing a large segment of the GED and Adult Education student population at a distinct disadvantage as they prepare to take the test. In my opinion, a computer version only option for taking the GED test is potentially unfair to this segment of the adult population. Such a policy could potentially be labeled as discriminatory and could possibly face a legal challenge. Any light that the panel can share on this topic is welcomed. Thank you.

David Langston

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

Although the administration of the GED® test on computer does require some level of computer familiarity, the skills required are quite modest. Familiarity with technology is a concept that is acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education as a component of literacy, and it is important for adults to be successful in career and college to be able to use basic technology. GED Testing Service has made available a tutorial that helps teachers and students become familiar with how the CBT looks and feels. At COABE last week, several instructors told us that they use the tutorial in their classroom, assigning students to complete the essay component to learn to interact with and become familiar with the interface. We will also be providing a tutorial for the new assessment. We are confident in the ability of adult learners to use the CBT system.

*****

Good afternoon! Thank you again for your answers to our questions. When will states that are paper-only currently be transitioning to CBT on the 2002 series? Programs that are in colleges or schools often run on July-June fiscal calendars, and the timing of the CBT transition will impact program budgets.

Thank you!

Mr. Marcel Kielkucki 

*****

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Phonics and Decoding Skills

For reading instruction, at what ages and how does phonetics fit in? Should the teacher use IPA, SAMPA, dictionary keys or whatever? (Phonetics being one representation for each sound, as opposed to phonics).

I ask because I've developed truespel phonetics, a notation that simply uses the 26 letters of the alphabet to spell the 40 sounds of US English. This system is simple enough for beginning readers as well as ESL. It allows new kinds of assessment in terms of phonemic awareness. How well does one learn phonetic spelling? How well does one hear phonemes in terms of writing them down? Reading skills can now be broken down by phonemic awareness with real phonemes.

Tom Zurinskas

*****

GED Testing Service Response:

It sounds as though you have an interesting program and approach to teaching ESL learners. Because the new GED test is a measure both of high school equivalency and of career-and college-readiness, emphasis in preparation instruction is not on acquisition of basic reading and decoding skills. These types of skills would be needed at an earlier preparation stage.

*****

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Professional Development Needs

I work in adult education at a state level. My comments reflect those of my colleagues but not necessarily the state I work for. Moving to a harder GED test has a serious impact on most adult ed programs. The average NRS grade level of an entering adult learner is 5th grade. The average student is looking at years of study to catch up and pass the GED test. By setting the bar higher with a new GED, means that students will need to spend even more time in their programs to come out with a GED diploma.

What is missing in this move to a new harder test is the professional development required to help teachers make changes to their programs and to find ways to teach better and accelerate the acquisition of basic skills and knowledge. At a state level we see the need for this kind of PD, but do not have the resources to build our own programs as well as a lack of understanding what the new test will require.

A review of the Assessment Guides leaves us even more in the dark. These guides do not give us the information we need to build adequate Professional Development programs. It seems to us at the state adult education level, that the move to the new test is not very well thought out in terms of the impact on test takers, adult schools or test centers. We are all for raising the bar on education of our adult learners but wonder if we are not creating just the opposite effect among struggling adult learners.

We are projecting a drop in test passers by 40% to 50% with the new 2014 test. We do not see how we can adequately prepare our teachers in the 19 months before the roll out of the test. I am hoping the GED TS panel could comment on the possibility of delaying the new test until 2015 to coincide with the move states will make to the Common Core State Standards.

Regards,

Phil Peppis

*****

There is no question about the commitment of the GEDTS to educating adults. You are very passionate and committed people. The issue though is that you are stressing a system that is already overstressed and that it will react in ways that ironically are contrary to your goals. There is precedence to what you are doing. In the early 90's California introduced a new statewide assessment called CLAS. It had similar goals, to improve the education of students by raising the bar in assessing outcomes. The first year the test was given, 65% of all students did not get passing scores in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. The scores for the second year of the test were the same. The problem of course is that one cannot force changes on a system with new assessments without accompanying the changes with very strong professional development programs.

It may seem that PD is not the responsibility of the GEDTS/Pearson group, but unless there is a lot more support in terms of new curricula then this test will meet the same resistance the CLAS test did. By the way, CLAS was cancelled after the second year.

My second concern is about adequate support from publishers for new curriculum materials. I had a disturbing talk with a rep from a large publisher who stated that they were not developing GED materials because the GEDTS/Pearson was forcing them to pay royalties on the content they create for new test. Is this true? Is the GEDTS requiring royalties on new content for the new test?

With respect,

Dennis Tillman

*****

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Ready to Meet the Challenge

One of the hardest things for many adult educators may be to empathize with our students. I'm sure this isn't true for all of you, but I loved school. I didn't do extraordinarily well until my sophomore year of college, but today I have two master's degrees and haven't gotten lower than an A in a class since 1987.

Sometimes it helps me to be given a dose of what my students go through each day at school. It helps me relate.

Yesterday and today, I have observed as a group of people were presented with a challenge. Certainly not all, but many of them broke down, backed off, balked and, frankly, bellyached.

It seems like the new GED test is coming. It's not just a possibility anymore, it's happening. Is it different? Yes. Is it going to take some getting used to? Yes. Are we going to be able to maintain our current level of success as we make the change? Probably not. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it going to eventually boost our reputation in the field of education and our students' experience with being taken seriously because of the new credential? Yes.

When we present a challenge to our students, one that is not optional and is for their own good, what kind of behavior are we looking for? Personally, I celebrate individuals who can say, "Well, this is going to be difficult, but let's see how we can get it done." Responses that include, "it's too hard," "it's not fair," "why can't someone else," "I can't because of this, this or this," or "but that other person said," don't get much credence. Students who are struggling with fear and anxiety get support, but the challenge doesn't just go away. Individuals who simply get started get done much more quickly.

Personally, I am looking forward to making the change to the new test, just as we did in 2002. Some students may have to study longer for the new test, but the labor market and higher education systems are already using these higher standards and today we are not serving our students adequately. The new test will help us justify utilizing funds to raise students skill sets, including those related to technology application, to the higher levels that are needed today.

Shelly Leduke

*****

Shelly,

Thank you for expressing these sentiments.

Nicole Viggiano

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Shelly,

I liked your outlook that says: dig in and get it done. I have warned several partnerships that we will all need to be flexible in the future.

Gary Mills

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Shelly,

I also appreciate and agree with your sentiments. We must admit this is not news. I thought it would happen January 1, 2012.

Don Dutton

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Student Data

Good afternoon! First of all, thank you for allowing for this opportunity to ask questions regarding the new assessment. My questions today center around the amount of access programs will have to student data. Right now we work with our students to assist them through the process of getting their GED and are also responsible to report success of those students. We also process requests for transcripts for official test passage. Will we still have access to that information in the future with the new test? What about access to test scores from prior GED test versions? I appreciate your help in answering these questions.

Mr. Marcel Kielkucki

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GED Testing Service Response:

One of the key advantages to moving to a CBT platform is that test-taker data will be more complete, reliable, and more readily available. While we are still working through systems design and data access permissions issues, our intent is that more and better information be produced by and available to users of the GED® testing system - not only to test-takers themselves, but to adult educators and others who provide important supports and services to the test-takers. We also recognize the importance of providing test-scores from prior versions of the GED® test and are working on a solution still to be fully developed to be able to provide that data.

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Sufficient Seats for Testing

Hello, everybody

In Massachusetts, we will likely have three test centers at most participating in the 2012-13 piloting, and it would be extremely optimistic to think that even 15 of our 30 current test centers will be approved Pearson VUE centers and ready to go in January of 2014. What can I say to GED students and teachers to assure them that there will be sufficient seats and sites for testing come January 2, 2014?

Tom Mechem

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GED Testing Service Response:

GED Testing Service is working with Pearson VUE to ensure that, in fact, there will be enough testing centers and seats available to meet the testing demand in 2014. While establishing these CBT centers is a large task, it is one that is doable by the time the new test launches. In addition to converting paper-based testing centers to computer, existing Pearson VUE testing centers that are located in academic settings can also be brought online to help state have more testing capacity.

It doesn't seem like you answered Mr. Mechem's question. It seems that MA in particular and I'm sure other states will not have all test centers ready to give the CBT. Will there be a PBT version to meet the needs of all test takers? If not, then what do test centers who are ready for CBT do?

Mara Connolly

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Technology Skills

Hello,

A few questions about the technology skills examinees will require to take the new exam:

  • Will there be an interactive tutorial for examinees to practice their skills before they register for an exam?
  • What specific skills will examinees need to possess? I assume mouse skills such as clicking and dragging, but are there any others we need to teach our students?
  • Is there a recommended typing speed (wpm) examinees should have in order to complete the short answer and extended response items in a timely manner?

Thanks,

Evelyn B. Lenton

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GED Testing Service Response:

Yes, an interactive tutorial to help examinees prepare for the computer skills needed for the new test will be launched in July 2013.

The kinds of skills that are needed are primarily the ones you have identified - using the mouse to click on an answer choice or to navigate forwards and backwards in the test, using the mouse to click an object and drag it to another section of the screen, or using the mouse to click and drag to select text for copying and pasting. In addition, modest keyboarding skills will be needed to be able to enter text into fill-in-the blank, short answer, and extended response answer boxes on the new test.

We do not yet have any recommended typing speeds. After our items are field tested in the summer of 2012, we will be able to make recommendations about how test-takers should best be prepared with the appropriate keyboarding skills.

*****

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Closing Remarks

We greatly appreciate all the great posts, questions, and comments over the past two days. It is clear that there is a significant amount of information that needs to be shared, discussions held, and action taken to prepare for the future of the testing program. We are committed to being open, transparent and direct, sharing information widely and answering tough questions. We ask for your support in getting these answers to your colleagues so that everyone knows the facts and can work together on solutions.

The GED Testing Service staff is committed to ensuring that the GED® test and the high school equivalency credential remain relevant and truly prepare adults with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in education and training programs and the workforce.

You might have asked yourself, "After this List Discussion, when will I be able to hear more about the plans for the GED® testing program?" We have been talking openly about our vision for the testing program since 2010 and have had numerous conversations with OVAE, the state adult education directors, GED Administrators, publishers, foundations, state policymakers, and adult educators since that time. We've attended and presented at numerous national and state adult education conferences, held meetings and calls in virtually every state/jurisdiction, delivered virtual presentations about the new assessment, released assessment guides, participated in discussion lists and distributed a monthly e-newsletter. Even as we continue with these efforts, we recognize it is a challenge to share the most recent content and have an ongoing dialogue with the more than 75,000 adult educators across the continent. That is why we will be launching an updated website in the coming weeks where you can find regular updates about the testing on computer program and the new assessment, among other updates from GED Testing Service.

We promise that we will continue the hard work of reaching out to as many adult educators and education professionals as possible. We will be an active participant in helping create a system that prepares adult for training programs and jobs - and we are committed to increasing the number of conversations we have with adult education. We are developing plans to be even more visible and present, to ensure we continue to have a two-way conversation about these important changes. Remember that having a two-way conversation is difficult with more than 75,000 people, but we are committed to finding innovative ways to make these touch points possible.

All that we request in return is your help in expanding the reach of this conversation by sharing information with your colleagues, seeking us out when we're in your area, signing up for the monthly newsletter (www.GEDtest.org/TheCommunity), and in general keeping in touch and expressing your concerns and solutions.

We ask that you critically evaluate all of the information that comes your way, seek the truth and even help get the right information into the right hands when you have the opportunity to do so. Too much is at stake to allow misinformation to keep us from the important tasks at hand. We also ask that you share with GED Testing Service staff any suggestions that you might have to help share information more broadly, deeply, and quickly throughout the community.

Thank you again for your comments, insight, and passion on behalf of adult learners!
Nicole, Marty and CT on behalf of the entire GED Testing Service team

Additional information:

  • GED Testing on Computer:Animated video short about GED® testing on computer: www.GEDtestingservice.com/impact
  • Where to find the GED® test on computer tutorial, and see where students go to register for and schedule a GED® test on computer: www.GEDcomputer.com
  • Did you know that at least eight states are offering the 2002 Series GED® Test on computer now? Over 2,000 tests have been given in different regions of the country.
  • Monthly E-newsletter Sign-up and Past Editions: www.GEDtest.org/TheCommunity
  • The New Assessment: www.GEDtestingservice.com/assessment - download the guides, view videos, sign up for assessment alerts that tell you when new important

COMING SOON (Early May):

Newly Redesigned GED Testing Service website that will combine all the GED® testing content into one, with separate portals for educators, test-takers and other key stakeholders: www.GEDtestingservice.com

CT Turner

Director, Public Affairs & Government Relations

GED® Testing Service

1155 Connecticut Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: (202) 471-2228

Email:CT.Turner@GEDtestingservice.com

For Test-Takers: http://www.GEDtest.org

For Testing & Education Community: www.GEDTestingService.com

*****

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