September 2, 2014: From Politico's Morning Education, discouraging -- if not predictable -- results from the dramatic changes in the General Equivalency Diploma [GED]. Only slightly over half of the students who take the exam, 53%, are passing; worse, the number of students taking the exam has dropped from 750,000 a year to 105,000.
Expanding options for some students whose skills are outside traditional academic tracks have been noted in the Los Angeles Register in a story by Fermin Leal:
Career technical education is booming across Los Angeles County, where the number of students enrolled in programs grew last year to 195,341. Nearly 3 in 10 high school students were enrolled in career technical education last year...The training programs are part of an effort to overhaul the state’s high schools by emphasizing real-world relevance in instruction to better prepare students for college and careers.
Writing over the weekend in EdSource, Michelle Maitre reported on MC3, the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum, that "blends academics with job training in the construction fields...students who successfully complete the program will receive national industry certification from North America’s Buildings Trades Unions...
Beginning as a pilot program in 9 schools, each of which will conduct the program in what is known as a Sustainable Academy of Building and Engineering (SABE); "about 245 students in grades nine through 12 [will initially] participate...," according to Maitre. [Academies will] "...operate as a school-within-a-school, where students are immersed in the construction industry in all aspects of their education, and also receive hands-on experience in the field." ...
A TOUGH TEST FOR NEW GED: High school dropouts seeking an equivalency degree have been struggling with the revised GED exam, launched Jan. 1 as a profit-making joint venture between publishing giant Pearson and nonprofit American Council on Education. The pass rate on the old GED hovered around 72 percent and dipped only slightly after the last major revision to the exam in 2002. The new exam, aligned to the Common Core, is meant to be much harder - and indeed, just 53 percent of test-takers have passed. Most have gotten tripped up on the math section, which includes more algebra and word problems, according to CT Turner, senior director of state accounts for the GED Testing Service. The good news: About 80 percent of people who fail the math section "are just two to three right answers away from passing, so it's not a hopeless cause," Turner said. The GED Testing Service is analyzing the concepts that have proven most tricky and plans to help adult education teachers hone in on those subjects.
- The new test is not only harder, it's also more expensive, with exam fees of up to $120, plus $30 to retake a section. (Some states subsidize the exam costs, so the actual cost to students varies.) Students appear quite wary of giving it a go. Turner said a steep drop was expected because of the format change - but even so, the numbers have been disappointing, he said. "We've seen a lot of anxiety from adult learners and from education centers," Turner said. "I think we have a lot of work to do."