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Lower passing score boosts numbers who earn GED

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Posted at 7:01 AM, Feb 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-20 09:01:36-05

Passing high school-equivalency tests recently got a little easier in Kentucky and Ohio.

Following GED Testing Service’s Jan. 26 recommendation, both states decreased the number of points required to pass the test from 150 to 145.

“We wanted to make sure that what’s expected of a GED student … is on par with a high-school graduate,” said C.T. Turner, director of public affairs for GED Testing Service. GED stands for general educational development.

After observing Oregon community college students in 2013 and 2014, GED Testing Service officials found that students with GED credentials were less likely to need remedial courses than students who had recently graduated high school.

While the test itself has not changed since 2014, GED Testing Service officials recalibrated the passing score to ensure GED test-takers are held to similar standards as graduating high-school students.

“When they went in to take a look at the success of students, they realized that they could lower that score without lowering the bar,” said Peg Russell, adult education program director for Florence-based Gateway Community and Technical College.

Many states immediately implemented the recalibration, but some require additional state approval to change their required scores.

The GED test was created by the American Council on Education in 1942. GED Testing Service is a joint venture of the council and Pearson Education, the big Britain-based education publisher. The test, which is used nationwide to measure high school equivalency, includes four content modules: science, social studies, math and English language arts.

The fifth and most recent edition of the test was introduced in January 2014. Updates include access to the career-assessment program PathSource, an option to take tests for individual subjects one at a time, and detailed score reports to indicate subjects test-takers struggled with or excelled in. “The (score report) feedback is really important,” Turner said.

In addition to accepting the change to the passing score, Kentucky and Ohio also are honoring GED Testing Service’s recommendation to apply the rule retroactively through Jan. 1, 2014.

The change qualifies 324 individuals in Kentucky, said Reecie Stagnolia, vice president for Kentucky Adult Education. About 15 of those are individuals in Northern Kentucky, who took the test through Gateway.

“We often have students scoring between 145 and 149,” Russell said.

In Ohio, 1,425 individuals have passed GED tests with the recalibrated passing score, said Toby Lichtle, assistant director of communications and outreach for the Ohio Department of Education.

When GED Testing Service officials implemented the recalibration, they also added two new performance levels for the test. “It allows us to have performance levels that basically mimic a high school graduating class,” Turner said.

Previously, a score of 150 was rated as passing, or high-school equivalency. A score of 170 or higher qualified as GED with honors. Now, a score of 145 or higher is passing, 165 or higher is considered college-ready and 175 or higher is designated college-ready plus credit, meaning individuals may be eligible for up to 10 college credit hours.

“They can reach that 175,” Turner said. “Many of them do, and it’s a real jump-start on their education.”

Although passing the test may be easier, Kentucky’s education leaders will continue to encourage test-takers to put their best efforts into the assessment.

“Our big goal in Kentucky is to continue to prepare people to score as high as possible,” Stagnolia said. “We want them to be prepared to enter college.”

About the GED test

  • Find answers to many questions about the GED test locally — including requirements for taking the test, how much it costs, how to find a testing locations and how it’s scored — at GED Testing Service’s web pages for Ohio and Kentucky.
  • Get more detailed information on the test in Ohio, including test practice centers and testing centers, from the Ohio Department of Education.
  • Similar information for Kentucky is available through Kentucky Adult Education.