People seeking to earn a GED face a Jan. 1 deadline to do so before the high school equivalency exam becomes harder and more expensive.
The new computer-based GED will begin Jan. 2, 2014. The test will be given in four parts instead of the current five and will be based on new and more rigorous Common Core education standards adopted by North Carolina. The price of the test will rise from $30 to $120.
Anyone who has started but hasn’t completed their GED by the deadline will have to start the process over – retaking and paying again for the exams they already have taken.
Nash and Edgecombe community colleges are conducting sweeping outreach efforts to alert anyone who has started their GED about the deadline. College officials also are taking extra steps to help people complete their GEDs, from expanding tutorial services to adding locations for GED study programs.
In the competitive job market of today, people who lack a high school diploma or the equivalent are at a distinct disadvantage. The sluggish economic recovery from the Great Recession has not produced enough new jobs to keep up with the supply of unemployed workers. Studies have shown that the job prospects and earning potential of people with less than a high-school education pale in comparison to their better-educated peers. The demands of the highly skilled, 21st century workforce simply don’t offer much opportunity for someone who lacks a high school diploma.
While the aim of the revamped GED tests of providing more value to the equivalency diploma is laudable, the four-fold increase in cost is disturbing. The new exams were designed to be better aligned with current high school graduation requirements and better prepare GED students to meet the demands of the workforce, advanced job-training programs or college degree studies.
But people who seek to better their quality of life by furthering their education through earning a GED almost certainly inhabit the lower end of the economic spectrum. The increased academic challenges of the new tests will be enough for many to contend with – the dramatically higher price tag could indeed be prohibitive for many.
Some states are looking to subsidize the new test fees to reduce the financial burden on GED students. North Carolina should follow their lead.