Rush for GED on in Lafayette with major change looming

Computer-only exams begin in January; some may lose scores

The Lafayette Parish school system has seen an increase in the number of GED test takers trying to beat an end-of-year deadline before their prior test results become invalid.

The exam is the General Educational Development test offered by GED Testing Service. The company is phasing out the test to implement a more rigorous exam administered as a computer-only test starting in January. The phase-out means that those who took the test but had not passed all five parts of it would lose their scores come January.

The school district is a testing site for the exam and also offers test preparation courses. Robin Olivier, the district’s adult education specialist, said the district increased its testing dates to accommodate demand.

“The sense of urgency is more for those who have already taken the test and need to pass the components that they weren’t successful in,” Olivier said.

Typically, the exam is offered twice a month, but the district offered three testing dates in September, October and November.

“We noticed in November that the numbers were overwhelming and testing dates were filling up, so we added four test dates to December and two more Saturdays just for those who need to retest,” she said.

For the December dates, 165 people had registered as of Friday and more than 660 have been tested so far this year. All testing dates are full, with the exception of a retesting day scheduled Dec. 28, she said.

The number of test takers is up from last year, when 500 people were tested, Olivier said.

With the changes planned by GED Testing Service, the state opted to switch testing companies. Effective January, Louisiana test takers will use the High School Equivalency Test or (HiSET), developed by another company, Educational Testing Service.

HiSET offers students the opportunity to take the test on paper or computer, an asset for learners who may not be experienced computer users and a reason HiSET was more attractive to state officials, Oliver said.

Questions on the HiSET will be more rigorous and the test questions will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards, Olivier said.

“The type of questions will become more in-depth questions and will require a higher skill,” she said. “But, it will be a gradual implementation on a six months to a year timeline when the assessment will show more rigor.”

She said the district is the designated professional development source for adult education testing in the region and will provide training to adult-education teachers to prepare test takers for the changes.

Although the number of test takers has increased in the district, she said, there hasn’t been a dramatic influx in enrollment in adult education courses offered by the school system.

“Our numbers haven’t been as high as in the past, but I think that’s a good thing. It makes me think that K-12 is doing its job and we also have low unemployment, which makes me think that people are receiving the training they need,” she said.

However, she added she wished more people would enroll in some type of preparation before taking the test.

“I feel good instruction is the best thing for a student to do before taking the test, especially if they’ve been out of school for a awhile.”