WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The time is ticking for students to finish their GED tests before a major change that could potentially affect many people who are trying to earn their high school diploma.
At Cape Fear Community College, officials have had to add extra sections to their GED classes to prepare more students to finish their tests before January 1, 2014. On that date, the GED will become part of Pearson VUE, the largest testing company in the country. With the change in ownership comes a change in testing.
Right now, the paper-based GED only costs $35 per student for the full five required tests or $24 per test under the transitional computer-based testing option. However, in January, the testing fee will increase to $120.
The new test will also be fully computerized unless a student needs accommodations because of a disability. That means test takers not only need to know the content, but now, they must also have computer and technology skills to even take the test.
The transition to computer-based testing comes on top of a major change in curriculum. Along with high schools across the state, the GED test will be revised to align with Common Core standards. Many officials are expecting it to be more challenging.
One of the biggest problems with the change is that any students who have not received their GED by December 31, 2013, must begin the process from scratch under the new 2014 test series. Their test scores expire with the December 31 deadline.
"If they have not started at this point, it will be almost impossible to finish," Erica Talbert, with Cape Fear Community College, said.
A recent report from the North Carolina Justice Department says more than 800,000 working-age adults in North Carolina lack a high school credential, placing the state at the low rank of 38th in the country.
While officials say these changes could be a challenge for low-skilled and low-income adults, they add that the changes also offer an opportunity for the state to better meet the needs of this target population.
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