With dramatic changes coming next year to North Carolina’s GED curriculum as well as a fee increase, Edgecombe Community College officials are encouraging students to complete their course work this fall.
“The present test series for the GED program started in 2002, and the state is eliminating that series and starting a new series,” said Jerry Harper, the college’s director of College and Career Readiness.
“There will be no more paper testing – everything will be done electronically. We’re encouraging students to go ahead and complete the process now.”
At present, students working toward a GED or adult high school diploma must pass tests in five subject matters – literature, social studies, science, English/writing, and math.
The new series of tests, which will be implemented statewide in January, will feature four subject areas, combining literature and English into a new reading/writing subject. The others – social studies, science, and math – will remain.
“The program will make some degrees more difficult,” Harper said. “Students will need to know more. In 2014, students will have to bring to the table a certain amount of general knowledge and academic knowledge.”
Under the current system, reading comprehension is critical in order to pass the tests in each subject. After reading a passage, the answers to a set of questions will be apparent in each passage if the student understands the information.
With the new curriculum, answers to questions might come from common knowledge or might have been covered somewhere else during the studies.
“What’s currently working in the classroom now won’t work in 2014,” Harper said.
To better prepare students, Edgecombe Community College is revamping its GED program to accommodate the changes at the state level. The format, however, will remain unchanged – as will the cost of instruction.
“The college charges zero dollars for the GED program,” Harper said. “However, currently there is a one-time fee of $35 to take the state tests. On Jan. 1, the fee will increase to as much as $24 per test with the exact fee not yet determined.”
First-time enrollees will undergo a pre-assessment in which faculty will determine at what level they score in four categories. If the student scores at a ninth grade level, the next step is taking the practice test. If the student scores below a ninth grade level, the student will receive instruction before he or she can take any practice tests. After passing all the practice tests, the student then can take the official state tests.
“Because students will be e-testing, we are adding more e-testing in early assessments,” Harper says. “Students will be taking pre-assessments and practice tests on the computer.
“Also, instructors will be incorporating more technology in the classroom, so students will be more prepared to take the state tests via computer.”
In addition, although it is not required, all of the college’s College and Career Readiness instructors will be certified to teach basic skills to the 1,200 or so GED students who go through the program each year. About half of the program’s instructors already have their basic skills instructor certification, Harper said.
Edgecombe Community College’s GED program is eighth out of the 58 community colleges in student progression – moving from one level to another – and 19th out of 58 in graduation rates.
To make the program more convenient for area residents, the college has added off-campus locations where students can study for their GED. Off-site locations include the Bassett Center, Bulluck School, OIC, Tri-County Industries, and Victory in Christ Church in Rocky Mount; Gibraltar Church on the Rock in Tarboro; Kingdom Developmental Center and Princeville Elementary School in Princeville; and Phillips School in Battleboro.
“We plan to add more off-site locations where students can study for their GED,” Harper adds. “Also, we’re adding two GED examiners who monitor final testing. Right now, we have one.”