Private company taking over GED testing, cost skyrockets

CINCINNATI - Math is not Lakeshia Coleman's favorite subject. She prefers playing strategy games to numbers any day. And it's her strategy to study math at Cincinnati's YWCA  to finally get her GED.
    
"It's been a little journey," she said.

A journey with a few wrong turns.

"I could have easily gone through school," she said. "But, I chose not to."

She says she should have graduated 12 years ago.

That was then. This is now: Today, she's unemployed, struggling to survive, and making her third attempt to pass the GED test.

"I know it's going to be hard," she said.

That goal is about to get a lot harder.

Ohio is revamping the test for the first time since 2002. The state is expected to raise the standards to pass the test, and will be eliminating the paper and pencil for applicants.

In 2014, the test will be computerized only.

As part of that process, says John Charlton with the Ohio Department of Education, the testing has been handed over to Pearson Vue Testing Services, a for profit company.
 
When that happens, the cost of the test will triple from $40 to $120.

Charlton says the ODE is "concerned" over the price hike, but because of the tight budget, he says there is currently no legislation to subsidize it.

The new cost is beyond what Lakeshia says she can afford.

"I'm unemployed," she said. "So no. Absolutely not."

"I think it's going to be a major barrier," said Eileen Hopkins, director of Training and Education at the YWCA.

"It's very challenging for individuals that are already economically disadvantaged," she said.

Which comes back to Lakeshia's strategy; make her daughter proud by getting it done before the price goes up.

"She's looking forward to seeing me in a cap and gown," Lakeshia said. "Hopefully I'll wear one really soon."

Hopkins says the latest an applicant can register to take the old test at the $40 rate is August of 2013.

The next testing cycle begins in January of 2014.

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