Barton Community College is preparing for nationwide changes to General Educational Development exams and how they are administered, said Chris Lemon, coordinator of Adult Education at BCC.
New regulations require that tests be administered on computers starting in 2014. BCC plans to implement computer-based testing at all of its GED-testing sites by October, and on Aug. 23 tested the system at Ellsworth Correctional Facility. This made Barton the first school in Kansas to implement the computer-based GED testing in a prison.
A similar test will be done this week at the Larned Correctional and Mental Health Facility, Lemon said. After Oct. 1, Barton will introduce computer-based testing at its two other GED testing sites, the Great Bend Center for Adult Education and on Barton’s Fort Riley campus. Tests are typically offered once a month.
In the past, a GED proctor monitored test administration and oversaw the safe delivery of paper tests for scoring. The move to testing only on computers will be welcomed by technologically savvy students, while for others it will require more education.
“In addition to reading and math, we have to focus on technology skills,” Lemon said. This may be especially difficult for some inmates who have been incarcerated for extended periods. At the correctional facilities, the rapidly changing technological landscape had led to BCC offering typing skills courses and other basic computer classes.
The new system will benefit both the inmates and the communities into which they will be released, Lemon added.
“A GED is the first step for a lot of inmates in their education journey that allows them to better themselves, so when they do release they will be productive members of society,” he said. “Study after study shows that education is one of the only things that reduces recidivism rates. For a lot of inmates, this could be their introduction to computers and a world that didn’t exist when they entered the system.”
BCC’s relationship with the Kansas Department of Corrections allowed the college to put the program in place within a reasonable time frame, despite many parties involved and plenty of regulations to follow, Lemon said.
“It says a lot about the strength of our relationships with the local correctional facilities and the Kansas Department of Corrections,” he said. “We work well together to get things done, and we have mutual priorities.”
More changes in 2014
The method of test delivery isn’t the only change expected for GEDs in 2014. Lemon said the tests are revised every decade and the so-called 2002 Series GED tests are set to expire at the end of the year.
Test takers nationwide are being encouraged to finish them by early December. The new tests will become effective on Jan. 2, 2014.
The 2002 Series GED test has five parts. They can be taken at different times, but each part must be passed to earn a GED certificate – which is the equivalent to a high school diploma in Kansas. The next series will have four parts.
GED Testing Service states, “The new assessment will continue to provide adults the opportunity to earn a high school credential, but it goes further by measuring career- and college-readiness skills that are the focus of today’s curriculum and tomorrow’s success.
“Four content areas – literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies – will measure a foundational core of knowledge and skills that are essential for career and college readiness.”
Students in all states are being warned about potential scammers offering “on-line” versions of the test. GED tests may only be taken at official testing sites.