Education Attainment Division
GED® Test Evolves to Better Prepare Adults for Success in the Workforce
As more and more communities struggle to fill available jobs with a skilled and educated local workforce business and higher education have realized the need to join forces in tackling the talent and skills gap issue. Read what GED Testing Service is doing to help students and adults meet current and future workforce demands.
In response to feedback from employers and colleges across the country, the GED® test is making a dramatic change in 2014, aligning with college and career readiness standards and focusing on the skills adults need to be successful in the workforce.
Over the past five years, report after report have come out and highlighted that adult learners need more than just a high school diploma to succeed in today’s economy and to earn a family-sustaining wage. There are not enough low-skill jobs for low-skill workers and adults are recognizing that the jobs that are available are middle-skill jobs – jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a Bachelor’s degree.
We have also seen that too many high school students are not graduating with the right skills needed to be successful in the next step in life – going to college or enrolling in a job training or certificate program. Groups like state and local Chambers of Commerce have been outspoken in their support of raising standards for high school graduates, which is important to ensure employers have access to adults with the right skills to be successful in today’s economy.
As the primary high school equivalency test provider for adult learners, GED Testing Service also heard that message loud and clear from employers and colleges across the country. After reviewing our program and looking at the changing economic landscape, we joined the effort to raise standards and improve the resources available to adults so that they can be successful after earning a high school equivalency credential.
New Benefits of the 2014 GED Test for Employers
Below are some of the significant features of the new GED® Test that will be released in 2014 that are most valued by employers:
· 2014 GED® test aligned with Common Core and college and career readiness standards – GED Testing Service worked closely with employers, colleges, workforce professionals and researchers to ensure that the 2014 GED test is aligned with college and career readiness standards and measures the problem solving and critical thinking skills most valued by employers and colleges. We have also demonstrated that our new test is strongly aligned with the college and career readiness standards outlined by the US Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education.
· Provides college and career readiness target goals – While we will continue to measure high school equivalency, the 2014 GED® test will also measure where a test-taker’s performance level is in relation to college and career readiness in each of the four subject areas.
· Detailed score report – The 2014 GED® test will provide a wealth of information in the new detailed score report, which will outline the skills an individual has demonstrated and provide feedback on areas that need to be improved to demonstrate either high school equivalency or college and career readiness. This new feedback will better help employers, colleges, adult education instructors, and individual test-takers better understand the skills and competencies of a test-taker.
· Computer-based Testing – The 2014 GED® test will only be offered on computer, allowing adult learners to demonstrate basic technology skills and take advantage of some significant benefits like same-day score reports, online scheduling and a more flexible testing experience.
· GED Portal – The 2014 GED® test will also have an online portal that will help adults navigate the path of preparing for the GED® test, taking the test and connecting with jobs, college or certificate programs in their local community.
· GED Analytics – The 2014 GED testing system will provide states with a sophisticated analytics system that will allow states the ability to evaluate and report on the success of their adult education programs.
Some States Might Drop the GED® Test to Avoid College and Career Readiness Standards
While all of the new changes to the GED® test likely align with the education initiatives of your Chamber, some states are looking to replace the GED® test to avoid moving to college and career readiness standards. Given the leadership that Chambers have taken on this issue and the respect they garner from the states, we are hoping to partner with individual chambers to ensure that adult learners have access to a high school equivalency test aligned with college and career readiness standards.
GED Testing Service is excited to exhibit at ACCE’s 2013 Convention in Oklahoma City. Please stop by our booth to learn more about the changes and how you can help make sure your state is moving in the right direction.
Visit www.gedtestingservice.com for more information about the 2014 GED test.
Report Cards are In: Austin Chamber Provides Snapshot of Student Progress
Last month the Austin Chamber of Commerce released its annual Education Report Card compiled of student performance data from 11 school districts in the greater Austin area. The reports provide the business and education communities with a snapshot of the college and career preparedness amongst the future regional workforce.
Partnering with neighboring suburban school districts and economic development corporations, data collected for the report helps profile the needs of school districts in terms of leadership, board policy, and budgetary decisions. Districts then establish goals based on those needs.
The results of the reports reflect positive increases in college enrollment. Drew Scheberle, the Austin chamber’s senior vice president of talent and education development, says that student buy-in coupled with year round programmatic support is key. Chamber-led programs like Financial Aid Saturdays, which encourage students to complete their own applications for financial aid and college admission, are integral components of the Austin Chamber’s regional effort to increase college enrollment from 61 percent in 2010 to 70 percent by 2015. Creating awareness with ongoing targeted communications through television and radio ads and direct mail has been essential to the success of these College-Ready programs.
Predicting Higher Education Attainment
This year’s report includes data on student post-graduation activity collected through the chamber’s Student Futures Project. Over the years, the data has shown a distinct gap in students that indicate plans to continue their education and those that actually enroll in a higher education institution. The data collected through this project, a partnership with the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas, helps identify trends associated with non-enrollment and address the gaps.
Chamber leaders and school district directors alike will attest that partnership between regional chambers of commerce and local school districts occurs naturally as a result of shared goals. Districts will set goals already in alignment with recommendations provided by Chambers who have their pulse on regional workforce needs.
A Scalable Model
With a full time chamber staff member dedicated to coordinating and analyzing Education Report Cards, outsourcing of the Student Futures analysis to the University of Texas, a media outreach campaign, and a Progress Report Task Force, the Austin Chamber’s community report card initiative is indeed comprehensive. While the project may seem a daunting undertaking for many chambers, the model is scalable with the formula for success based on a concerted effort from local business and education stakeholders.
Funding for the chamber’s workforce and talent development initiatives were derived from a line item within Opportunity Austin, a five county initiative for job creation in Central Texas that began in 2004 with business investments totaling $14.4 million. The third five-year plan for 2014-18, Opportunity Austin 3.0, was announced in December of 2012 with a funding goal of $25 million.
Takeaways: Key factors to success
- Student buy-in
- Year-round programmatic support for students
- Targeted communications campaigns to increase awareness about programs
- Comprehensive data that identifies trends in student outcomes (college enrollment, degree completion, etc.)
- Goal alignment between school district, business community, and higher education
- Investment by local business leaders
Share Your Work!
Engaging your business community towards increasing student achievement and outcomes? Partnering with school districts and higher education institutions? We’d like to hear from a variety of chambers, small market/rural to metro, to hear about similar programs in your community.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-998-3571.
Update: 2014 Federal Education Funding Priorities
In a time of sweeping budget cuts, President Obama is asking for an additional $3 billion for the education budget. During a conference call earlier this week addressing the corporate and philanthropic sectors, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made clear the following: 1) Ongoing federal funding for education is an absolute priority; 2) Resources would be geared towards creating impact at the local level; and 3) States and communities willing to put in the work would reap the rewards.
- $75 billion for a 10-year program partnering with states to dramatically increase access to high quality pre-kindergarten. Funds would come from a 94-cent-per-pack cigarette tax.
- “Ladders of Opportunity:” The Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture will take a joint approach to examine and remedy entrenched intergenerational poverty.
- Teachers and Leaders Plan: A Master teacher program designed to retain top teachers who will mentor the next generation of teachers. The administration is gearing investment towards building “networks of innovation” at the local level, focusing on communities where higher education, business, non-profit, and public education stakeholders are already engaged and invested locally in education attainment.
- The RESPECT Project: a $5 billion initiative derived from a national dialogue among teachers will seek to reform and transform the teaching profession.
- High School Re-design: $300 million will go directly to school districts to ensure students are both college and career-ready. Funds will focus on districts working innovatively to link curriculum to the real world and helping students realize those linkages.
- Race to the Top for higher education: $1 billion in matching funds to influence behaviors on the state and university level. The funds serve as an incentive for states’ ongoing investment in higher education, for universities to keep costs down, and for education institutions to collaborate in creating not just communities of access, but of completion.
The Bottom Line
Local buy-in will be the key to investment. Communities must be ready to work hard and ready to work collaboratively.
Information about these programs and user-friendly materials on the President’s 2014 Budget Proposal can be found here.