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In this article, we will compare the 2014 pass rate of the Pearson GED test in Washington State to the pass rate of the HiSET test in Missouri using the number of students who passed the Pearson GED in Washington State (2850) and the number of students who passed the HiSET test in Missouri (8513). However, to compare these pass rates, we first need to know the average annual cohort for both states. This is the average number of students who have historically taken the 2002 GED test in both states. We will use the years 2010 to 2012 to determine this number because the year 2013 saw a spike in the number of students taking the 2002 GED test as 2013 was the final year for that test. The annual GED reports for past years are found at the following link: https://www.gedtestingservice.com/educators/historical-testing-data


01

The 2013 report is the latest report. The 2014 report should be published during the summer of 2015. Click on the 2012 GED Testing Program Statistical Report to open this report. Scroll down to Table 1 which is on page 9:

02

This is a complex and deceptive table. What we really want to know is the number of candidates who took the test in 2012 (the second column) and the number that passed the test (the seventh column) for Washington and Missouri. Scroll down to Washington and you will see that 22,442 students took the test in 2012 and 12,987 passed. The pass rate was 58%. In Missouri, 12,578 candidates took at least a portion of the test and 9,222 passed the test. This was a pass rate of 73%.

Repeating this process for the 2011 and 2010 test results in the following table:


Reported Table of GED Candidates and Passers

Year

2010

2011

2012

3 Year Average

WASHINGTON













Washington Candidates

24,324

23,262

22,442

23,400

Washington Passers

14,047

12,579

12,987

13,300

Washington Pass Rate

58%

54%

58%

57%

MISSOURI













Missouri Candidates

13,764

13,388

12,578

13,300

Missouri Passers

10,628

10,334

9,222

10.100

Missouri Pass Rate

77%

77%

74%

76%

UNITED STATES













National Candidates

720,294

691,296

674,051

695,000

National Passers

451,973

434,126

401,388

430,000

National Pass Rate

63%

63%

60%

62%



Now that we know the average pass rate for three typical years of 2010 to 2012, we will compare these to the 2014 results in Missouri and Washington State. The Missouri results were provided to us by a reporter who is working on a story about this issue and the Washington State results were provided in an email from the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. These sources are listed at the end of this report.


Comparing 2014 to the Average Year of GED Candidates and Passers

Year

3 Year Average

2014 Reported

2014 Actual

2014 Decline

from Ave Yr

WASHINGTON













Washington Candidates

23,400

7,782

23,400

15,618 fewer test takers

Washington Passers

13,300

2,850

2,850

10,450 fewer test passers

Washington Pass Rate

57%

37%

12%

46% decline in pass rate

MISSOURI













Missouri Candidates

13,300

Reported only as slight decline

13,300

Only slight but unreported drop in test takers.

Missouri Passers

10,100

8,513

8,513

1,587 fewer test passers

Missouri Pass Rate

76%

??

64%

12% decline



The number of passers in Missouri in 2014 (8513) as a percent of the normal number of passers (10,100) is 84% or a decline of 16%. The number of passers in Washington in 2014 (2850) as a percent of the normal number of passers in Washington State (13,300) is 21% or a decline of 79%. Had the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) had the wisdom to adopt the HiSET test as an option in 2014, and only experienced a decline of 16% as a result, the number of passers in Washington State would have been 84% times 13,300 students or 11,172 students. Instead, due to an extremely bad decision by SDCTC, only 2,850 GED students passed in Washington State in 2014. Put another way, 8,322 mostly low income young adults had their lives destroyed in Washington State in 2014 due to the greed of Pearson combined with the utter and callous disregard of the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. Even in January 2015, after knowing these results, Jon Kerr, the current director of the SBCTC continued to defend the Pearson GED test calling it a huge success – when in fact the Pearson GED has been a disaster for low income young adults here in Washington State. Here is a graph comparing the Three Year Average plus 2014 results in Missouri (blue) to Washington State (red).

03

Washington was not the only Pearson GED monopoly state to suffer a huge drop in the number of GED test passers. Kansas had an average of 3,000 passers per year prior to 2014. There were only 806 students who could pass the unfair Pearson GED test in 2014 – a decline of 73%. In Connecticut, it was even worse. The average pass rate was 2700 students in 2010 to 2012. But in 2014, only 240 students managed to pass the unfair Pearson GED test – a decline of 91%.

Here is a graph comparing the 3 Pearson Monopoly states to the HiSET State of Missouri.

04

Here is a graph of the number of passers in 2014 as a percent of the prior 3 year average in all four states.

05

Why the Sharp Decline in the three Pearson Monopoly States?
This sharp decline in the pass rate in Washington State is due primarily to the fact that the 2014 Pearson GED test uses NAEP Hard Questions whereas the 2002 GED test and the 2014 HiSET test use NAEP medium questions. In addition, the Pearson test can only be taken on computer whereas HiSET can be taken without a computer. Finally, the Pearson test requires $120 plus a credit card while the HiSET test costs only $60 and does not require a credit card.


Comparing Four GED High School Equivalency Test Options





2002 GED Test

2014 GED Test

2014 HiSET Test

2014 TASC Test

Publisher

GED Testing Service

Pearson

Publishing

ETS/Iowa

Testing Service

CTB McGraw Hill Publishing

Non-profit?

Yes

No

Yes

No

Cost

$60

$120

$52

$52

Free Retests?

2 Free Retests

No

2 Free Retests

2 Free Retests

Normed to 60% High School Senior Pass Rate

Yes

No

Yes

Information not available.

Available as a Paper & Pencil Test?

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Reading

Questions

40

51

40

50

Writing Questions

90

51

40

50

How is written essay scored?

2 humans

1 computer

(no human review)

1 to 2 humans

1 human

Math Questions

50

46

50

52

% Numbers

25%

25%

25%

13%

% Algebra

25%

20%

25%

26%

% Geometry

25%

25%

25%

23%

% Analysis

25%

30%

25%

38%

Science Questions

50

34

50

55

Social Studies

Questions

50

35

50

55



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. 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 allowed students to use either the Pearson, HiSET or TASC test. During 2013, 14 States moved away from the Pearson GED monopoly.

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.
https://thetasctest.wordpress.com/category/news-updates/

During 2014, 2 more States offered their students an option to the Pearson GED (California and Massachusetts). During 2015, several more states elected to offer students a fairer high school equivalency test. Thus, there are currently 24 States offering students a choice of tests and 3 states under review but still 23 States that do not offer their students a fair high school equivalency option as of February 2016.

06

How much will the SBCTC decision to go with the Pearson monopoly - destroying the lives of 8,322 mostly low income young adults - cost Washington State tax payers?

High school dropouts who do not get a GED are more than three times more likely to commit a crime as those who do have a high school diploma or GED. Here is a quote from a recent study: “Nearly 1 of every 10 young male high school dropouts was institutionalized versus fewer than 1 of 33 young male high school graduates.” “The Consequences of Dropping Out of School, Joblessness and Jailing for High School Dropouts and the High Cost for Tax Payers” October 2009

Not having a high school diploma or GED means not getting a Job
Economically, this same study showed that while two out of three high school graduates had some kind of job in 2008, less than one in two high school dropouts had a job in 2008. When divided by Household income, young dropouts from poor families were much less likely to be employed than young dropouts from wealthy families.

Percent of 16-24 Year Old High School Dropouts in the U.S. Who Were Employed By Their Household Income

07

Given that nearly all employers in the US require either a high school diploma or a GED certificate, even these numbers are likely to greatly overstate the number of high school dropouts with jobs. The numbers in the above chart were taken from “community surveys” where Census workers call up folks on the phone and ask them if they have a job. Due to a known problem called “Favorable Response Bias” folks do not want to admit that they do not have a job. Therefore many will tell the Census worker that they have a job even when they do not.

The Role of the GED in Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Prison
Poverty creates prisoners and prisons in turn fuel poverty. Once a person has been incarcerated, the experience limits their lifetime earning power and their ability to climb out of poverty even decades after their release. This sets up a vicious inter-generational cycle of poverty and prison. Over one third of prison inmates—37 percent in 2003—do not have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. With a prison record and no certificate, few jobs are available. In 2002, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 67% of inmates released from state prisons in 1994 committed at least one serious crime in the three years following their release. A GED certificate is a “last chance” to break this cycle of poverty and prison.

John Nuttall authored the adult correctional education study “The Effect of Earning a GED on Recidivism Rates,” which includes data on three groups of inmates in the New York State Department of Correctional Services. The study tracked inmates who earned a GED diploma while incarcerated, inmates who already had a high school diploma or GED test credential, and inmates who did not earn a GED while incarcerated. Inmates who earned their GED diploma were significantly less likely to return to custody within three years. Offenders under the age of 21 who earned their GED diploma were 14% less likely to return to prison within three years. Without a GED to help them get a job, 54% of young offenders return to prison within three years. https://www.passged.com/media/pdf/research/The_Effect_of_Earning_a_GED_on_Recidivisim_Rates.pdf

09

Why the new 2014 Pearson GED Test will dramatically increase the prison rate
Studies show that individuals who have a GED certificate are less likely to go to prison in the first place. Having a GED after being in prison also increases the likelihood that individuals returning from prison will find a job. Surprisingly, prison inmates pass the GED at about the same rate as non-prison inmates – about 60% passed the test . However, the new Pearson GED test presents many obstacles that will significantly reduce the rate of those who pass.

Road blocks to passing the new 2014 Pearson GED Test

#1... Prison inmates do not know how to use computers
On average, individuals involved with the criminal justice system have low levels of education, and those who are currently or were recently incarcerated may have had limited access to computers. Because of these unique challenges, these test takers will have difficulty passing the new Pearson GED “computer only” test. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy survey found that among individuals who would be released from prison within two years, 74 percent had never touched a computer, and only 16 percent reported that they were somewhat computer literate.


#2... Prison inmates cannot afford the expensive tests
In addition, the cost of the test will be a financial burden on those returning home from prison. “It’s going to be prohibitive,” said Connecticut State Representative Toni E. Walker said in an interview with National Public Radio. “People come here with pennies and nickels, bringing us change to pay for the GED…People who have no money will never be able to actually take the GED.”
https://csgjusticecenter.org/reentry/posts/national-debate-on-2014-ged-changes/

#3... Prison inmates often do not have a credit card to pay for the test and jails often do not have computers with internet access
It's not just about the money, said Pat Dal Santo, Kane County's regional superintendent of education. In most cases, you need good credit to have a credit card. So many won't even be able to register to take the exam. The county also provides GED tests to about eight or nine jail inmates every month in hopes of giving them paths to a more productive lifestyle. But there is no computer lab at the Kane County jail. No computer, no test come 2014.


#4... As we have described in other articles, the GED test is much harder than the previous GED test.
Failing more kids will also mean more profit for Pearson. With $1.4 billion in operating profits last year, Pearson is one of the world’s biggest players in the standardized testing industry. This will also increase the number of young adults returning to prisons which will further increase the profits of the billionaires who now run private for profit prisons. We will next look at the private prison explosion.


Calculating the Cost to Tax Payers of 8,322 mostly low income young adults not being able to pass the GED due to the Unfair Pearson Test
Given that having a GED has resulted in a 14% drop in committing crimes and given that the prison population passes the GED test at the same rate as the non-prison High school drop out population, we can predict that had 8,322 low income young adults been given a fair chance at passing the GED test so they could get a decent job of go to college, the rate in this group committing crimes would be 14% less. This would be about 1,165 fewer low income young adults committing crimes and going to prison in Washington State.

According to a 2012 study, the annual cost to Washington State tax payers to house and feed a single prisoner is over $50,000. https://www.vera.org/files/price-of-prisons-washington-fact-sheet.pdf

This does not include the cost to victims from crimes, the cost in police to catch law breakers and the cost to courts in legal fees. Adding all of this in, the real cost of each prisoner is as much as $100,000 per year. Assuming a one year jail term, the cost of one thousand extra prisoners is about an additional $100 million. Washington State had an average daily prison population of over 16,000 in 2012. Most did not have a GED certificate. Adding another 1,000 prisoners would represent a 6% increase in the prison population and in the cost of prisons which is currently just under one billion dollars per year.

This is a quote on the importance of a high school equivalency certificate form Andy Kahan, Crime Victim Advocacy Director, City of Houston: “As a former parole/probation officer who has dealt with convicted felons for decades, I can unequivocally confirm that the prisons are unfortunately filled with individuals who dropped out of school and did not receive their high school diploma. The harsh reality is that the odds of someone who has not received a high school diploma going on to criminal behavior is higher than those that have at least a high school degree. Reducing the dropout rate would certainly influence the crime rate and reduce the number of people becoming victims of crime.”

Given that one or two administrators at the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) made a decision that will likely cost our State more than $100 million dollars in additional prison costs– and then proceeded to cover up this error by claiming for the past year – and even in the present – that everything is going great with the 2014 Pearson GED test, it is time for an investigation on how this decision was made, who made it and why nothing has been done to correct this problem during the past year. This may be one of the most serious errors ever made by any administrator in the history of Washington State. We can only hope that this problem is solved by our State legislature this year or it will cost our state another $100 million in prison cost for the next group that fails to pass the GED test due to the unfair Pearson GED test.

If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me.


Regards,
David Spring M. Ed.
Restore GED Fairness
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cell: 425-876-9149


SOURCES OF DATA:

Source for Missouri and Kansas State Results:

Lindsey Foat, Reporter KCPT & The Hale Center for Journalism
816.398.4245 (o) Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Source for Connecticut State results: Connecticut State Department of Education Source for Washington State Results: Email from Lou Sager to Marcia Leister on January 22 2015 (see below) Note: In the email sent on January 22 2015 by Lou Sager with the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, she indicated a 2014 pass rate of 71%. But this was the pass rate of students who has completed all of the tests (4,014). A more accurate pass rate is the pass rate of all of the students who attempted the test (7782). An even more accurate pass rate is the number who passed in 2014 (2850) divided by the number of students who have taken the test in the past during a normal year (23,400). This was a pass rate of only 12% of the number of students who normally attempt to take the GED during a normal year in Washington State. This is an 88% failure rate versus a 43% failure rate on the 2002 GED test.

Here is the email from Lou Sager at SBCTC:

From: "Sondra Cuban" <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
To: "elizabeth GEDhanson" <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2015 10:30:35 AM 
Subject: Fwd: GED info 

Begin forwarded message: 

From: Lou Sager < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Date: January 22, 2015 at 10:29:46 AM PST 
To: marcia leister < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cc: Sondra Cuban < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>, Jon Kerr < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>, "Carmen McKenzie" < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject:RE: GED info

Hi, Marcia!

I thought I saw an email forwarded by Jon to you and Sondra with this information, but then I saw an email that sounded like you didn’t get it.  So, here it is.




2002

2014

# of Test takers

17,488

7,782

# Took all tests

13,865

4,014

# Passed

9,651

2,850

Pass Rate

70%

71%

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