The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 2, 2013

Putting it to the test

Major changes coming to Carver Center’s GED program

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — GED testing is getting ready to undergo massive changes, which some say will make it easier but others aren’t so sure.

Clayton Nolen, director of General Educational Development testing in Enid, said the current test consists of multiple choice questions plus an essay.

The new system is mandated from Washington, D.C., Nolen said.

Change is coming

Starting in 2014 the test will be computer-based, and those taking the test will have to be familiar with some computer terms. The test also will no longer be administered through Oklahoma State Department of Education but by Pearson Vue, the company that writes the test. Applications must be made to the company.

Enid Public Schools has applied to the company to administer the test. The next phase will be to send photos of the testing room, including a separate reception room, and take an administrator’s test.

Nolen is working to arrange a room to house five computers, plus a reception room. Those will be different rooms than those currently used at Carver Center, the Enid testing site.

The testing room also will have some security equipment, such as monitors and cameras, he said.

“It must be highly secure. We have the rest of the year to do it,” Nolen said.

Throw away No. 2

Beginning in 2014, pencil and paper tests are no longer admissible. Cost of the testing also will rise from $75 to $120, he said.

Some testing sites will no longer administer the tests due to the changes, but Nolen said Enid officials believe it is important they continue to provide that service. There are few other testing sites in northwest Oklahoma. Nolen said there has been interest in Enid’s site from as far as Guymon.

“We feel it is beneficial to continue Enid as a testing site,” Nolen said.

The closest sites to Enid are Ponca City, Weatherford and Tulsa Union schools.  

The new test will include learning computer terms like hot spot, drop and drag and others.

Teachers will work with the academics, plus explain the terms, he said.

Tests reportedly will be shorter in duration than the current seven hours and 35 minutes.

There currently are five tests, including writing and reading. The new test will include comprehension and writing. Now the student must write between 200 and 400 words to pass, but the new test will require 450 to 900 words.

Nolen said he is encouraging those who have taken the test and need a few points to pass to take it again before the first of the year. In 2014 all previous scores will be erased and those who have not completed must start over again.

“Some say they love it and some say it is a nightmare,” Nolen said.

Those taking the test must be technologically savvy. One positive note is the new tests may be more flexible with times. However, they are very controlled, and at the end of the testing time the computer will shut down.

Another major difference is new test only provides one score, which cannot be lower than 450 to pass.

There currently are three scores showing academics, career readiness and post secondary, if the student wants to attend college.

A real diploma

Students will no longer receive a GED certificate but a high school diploma.

The method of payment also will change, and checks or cash will no longer be accepted. Those wishing to take the test must purchase a voucher.

Some of those taking the test receive funds from the Department of Human Services, which asks to be billed. That can no longer be done, DHS must purchase vouchers to be used.

Nolen said he is concerned how to accommodate people with disabilities using the new system. The school district will receive a very small percentage of the $120 fee for the tests, he said.

Currently the student knows his score before leaving the testing center, but with the new system all scores will be graded by a scoring engine and double-checked by a person, he said.

Nolen said the Carver Center will notify testers of their scores at a later date.

Seeing success

Nolen said reports from the company say the success rates are very high. Nolen travelled to Ponca City to visit the testing center there, where the new tests already are being used.

Carver Center averages between 130 and 150 who annually who take the GED test. Nolen said it averages to about five people a week.

The Carver Center also administers a shorter version of the GED to students for $10 on Friday morning, by appointment. That helps the students understand how prepared they are for taking the test.

“We do as much as possible,” Nolen said.쇓