Elizabeth Hanson M. Ed. & David Spring M. Ed.
Restore GED Fairness
Any business that released products that had never been tested in the real world, that had never been subject to corrections based on experience, would soon be bankrupt.” Math Teacher Explains What is Wrong with the Common Core January 28 2014 https://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/28/26541/
“When I saw the math portion of the 2014 Pearson GED test in March 2014, I was surprised by its difficulty. I had taught GED classes several years ago, and this new math test was nothing like the previous math test. I took the new GED math test myself and flunked. I also learned that only 2 students from our GED program earned their GED during Winter quarter 2014 on the Pearson GED test compared to the usual 25 students. I did some research and found out that very few students earned their GED in Washington state during winter quarter 2014. I started thinking. Why did Washington State adapt this difficult test? Do students really need to be able to answer two-step probability questions to get training to be a hair stylist or a nursing assistant?
Since then I have given a sample GED math test of 5 questions to 40 people with college degrees and only 5 people could answer 4 out of the 5 questions correctly. I figured if educated people can't pass the GED math test, it isn't a fair test. I don't expect many people who have dropped out of high school will stay with a GED program one to two years to meet the demands of the math test. I think we will better serve these students by having a test that they can pass more easily and then get them into college or job training as soon as possible, so they are not stuck in remediation to get to a math level which they may never need. By the way, of the five people who could pass the mini 5 question GED math test, two were engineers and one was a math major. All 40 people I gave the test to, like me, wonder what is going on. The purpose of this website is to try to understand what is going on and to seek a remedy."
Elizabeth Hanson, M. Ed. Basic Skills Teacher
Can you spare 10 minutes to take a 5 question test?
We are two college educators who want to inform parents and other concerned citizens about the harm currently being inflicted on at-risk young adults by a few misguided billionaires. Together we have more than 40 years of experience teaching at local community colleges. In January 2014, the difficulty of the Math portion of the GED test was greatly increased in order to align with a billionaire funded untested program called Common Core - which was supposedly developed to prepare students for a 4 year college degree program but which was actually developed to make schools and students look like failures in order to accelerate the drive to privatize our public schools while helping Wall Street hedge fund manager make billions of dollars selling shoddy “educational” products to uninformed parents and their kids. Everywhere Common Core tests have been implemented, from New York to Kentucky to California, student failure rates have skyrocketed. Here in Washington State, the pass rate for the new test has fallen from a historical rate of about 60% to an estimated rate of less than 10%. The problem is not with our students. It is with the fatally flawed math portion of this Common Core test.
We both have a Master's Degree in Education and have spent many years teaching basic math skills. In order to assess the difficulty of the new GED test, we both took a Sample version of the new 2014 GED test in April 2014. The actual math portion of the GED has 48 questions and takes two hours. The Sample version has 20 questions and takes one hour. I was appalled at the difficulty of the questions. Several required a significant period of time to answer. In the end, both of us ran out of time before we could complete answering all 20 questions. You need to get a score of at least 75% to pass this test. One one us – a person with a Minor in Math Education - was barely able to pass this test with a score of 80%. The other instructor was not able to pass the test. We both doubt that more than a few members of the legislature could pass this test.
We are hoping you will take 10 minutes of your time to take a 5 question version of this test – using questions from the Sample GED test – to see for yourself how difficult it is. We are then hoping you will share this information with your relatives, friends and neighbors. What we want is to demand that our State stop subjecting our at-risk young adults to such a fatally flawed test and return to using the prior version of the GED test.
Thank you for taking the time to take this test. To get started, get out a pencil and paper and set your timer for 15 minutes. Then click HERE to start the test. When you are done, you can click HERE to see how well you did and learn how you can help us restore GED fairness!
The reason for this huge drop is that in January 2014, a for profit corporation called Pearson took over the GED test and made it significantly harder to pass. Pearson has claimed that it is “normal” for test results to decline when a new test is introduced. However, the decline has never been anything close to this bad. For example, there was only a 50% decline when the last new test was introduced in 2002 in Washington State:
Nationally, there was hardly any change in the GED pass rate from 2001 to 2002 compared to the huge plunge in 2014:
Thankfully, there are two other options to the 2014 Pearson GED test. These are the HiSET and TASC high school equivalency tests. The following table shows that the HiSET test is a much fairer test and is similar to the 2002 to 2013 GED test.
Because the HiSET and TASC tests offer several benefits over the Pearson GED test, many States have moved away from the Pearson GED test monopoly in the past two years. This is a summary of those changes in 2013 and 2014.
High School Equivalency Test Option Changes during 2013
As of January 1, 2014, 10 States offered the HiSET as an option to the Pearson GED Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, Maine Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wyoming. Several of these States moved entirely to the HiSET test. https://www.ets.org/newsroom/news_releases/new_jersey_state_approve
As of January 1, 2014, the TASC high school equivalency test had replaced the Pearson GED in four States: Illinois, Indiana, New York and West Virginia. New Jersey elected to allow students to use either the Pearson, HiSET or TASC test.
During 2013, 14 States moved away from the Pearson GED monopoly. Here is a map of those 14 States:
High School Equivalency Test Option Changes during 2014
In February 2014, Massachusetts added the HiSET as an option and in August 2014, California added HiSET as an option. Thus, as of January 1 2015, there are 12 States offering HiSET as a High School Equivalency test option. https://www.ets.org/newsroom/news_releases/california_becomes_state_approve
During 2014, 3 more states, California, Nevada and Wyoming were added to the five States already offering the TASC test. Thus, there are currently 8 States offering the TASC test. Four of these States also offer the HiSET test as an option.
During 2014, 2 more States offered their students an option to the Pearson GED (California and Massachusetts). In 2015, 4 more states rejected the Pearson test monopoly including Colorado and Texas. Thus, there are currently 20 States offering students a choice of tests but still 30 States that do not offer their students an option. Here is a map of those 20 States:
Given that about 500,000 students were harmed in 2014 by the unfair Pearson GED test, and another 500,000 students were harmed in 2015 by the unfair Pearson GED test, our hope is that in 2016 more State legislatures will adopt the HiSET and or TASC test as an option to the Pearson GED test. Feel free to email us with questions or comments about this article.
David Spring M. Ed.
Restore GED Fairness (dot) org