MARY SANCHEZ

High school is getting tougher, and the GED is catching up

Updated: 2013-10-21T03:20:35Z

By MARY SANCHEZ

The Kansas City Star

The nation’s new GED test is fermenting a fear of math.

A rumor in some Kansas City circles last week was that passing the new General Educational Development exam will require knowing trigonometry.

Trig isn’t on the test. But expect geometry, data analysis, statistics and algebraic concepts. And that is just the math section. There are also skills in reading, writing, science and social studies to pass.

Things are changing when it comes to the high school equivalency exam. The test is becoming harder, in some cases more expensive, and it can be taken only online beginning in January.

If you did not graduate high school in Missouri and wish to finish a GED exam on paper — not by computer — Nov. 4 is the cutoff for those who have already completed a portion of the old test but still need to register to complete the whole exam. Pen and paper test takers who haven’t begun the process and wish to escape the new test: Sorry, too late. Your deadline passed.

Changes to what students are studying in public schools impacted a national revamping of the tests. States across the nation are aligning curriculum under a set of “Common Core standards” to ensure some consistency.

Another factor in Missouri was that contracts were ending with the company that had long provided the tests. And consider what the exams are intended to do: A person passing must show that they have mastered the skills and knowledge base that would be expected from any high school graduate.

And more is being asked of high school graduates.

For some, one of the biggest changes will be no more pen and paper. You want to make it in the world today, expect computer skills. So the new test will be given only via computer.

The next obvious question is what percentage of high school graduates could pass the test. Look at the practice questions at HiSET.ETS.org and see if you could.

Anyone tempted to assume that a GED holder is less worthy than a high school graduate ought to try it. The effort is humbling.

Children are known to lose information, some of their skills, during summer school breaks. So imagine what dropping out can do to the ability to retain what has already been absorbed and the ability to focus and restudy.

Don’t drop out of high school. The bar to prove yourself worthy of the degree is rising.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to msanchez@kcstar.com.

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