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Scoring change helps more adults secure GEDs
Passing grade drops five points, making test shorter, and retroactive to 2014
Otis Martin tackles geometry problems Thursday morning at a GED preparation class inside the Lanier Technical College Adult Education Center.

Henry Moore of Gillsville will get his GED in early March after a change in the scoring of the test gave him a passing grade.

Changes in the high school equivalency exam were made nationally in January 2014, and the number of people who passed the test dropped dramatically, said Brenda Thomas, executive director of the adult education program at Lanier Technical College.

Thomas said the new version in January 2014 was “a much more rigorous test than in the past.”

Moore, 48, said he has been working toward his GED for about two years. He was told in December that he failed the math test by four points. In late January, he learned the required score was lowered by five points, making his score now considered passing.

Moore is one of seven students in the adult education program at Lanier Technical College who have a passing grade under the new standard, Terri Greene, the lead GED instructor, said by email.

The change lowered the passing grade from 150 to 145. As part of the lower score, a portion of the questions for the social studies part of the GED was eliminated, shortening the test by about 15 minutes.

“Since (the lower score) is retroactive to January 2014, I’m sure we will identify many more (students who passed),” Greene said.

She explained the rechecking of test scores is being done through the GED Testing Service, a state agency. She said she does not know how many Hall County test results remain to be checked.

Moore plans seek a degree in the computer field, and has talked to officials about attending DeVry University.

“That’s my next goal,” he said.

He dropped out of school in Alabama when he was a sophomore, Moore said. Efforts to pass the GED since were unsuccessful because “something always would come up that would take my attention” from the work.

The 2014 changes also moved the GED to a computer test rather than paper, she said.

Thomas said the changes dramatically affected the number of GED graduates.

“Immediately, our number of GED graduates plummeted as did the rest of the state and nation.

For instance, this past December when we received a report before the score change was announced, we had 59 graduates, the second highest number ... in the state. Prior to this time, we had 300-500 GED graduates a year,” she said.

The GED includes testing in four subject areas: reasoning through language arts, social studies, math and science.

If a student had a failing grade in one area, he or she might “be disheartened” and drop out of the process, Greene said.

The changes in the GED also created two higher levels — college ready, with a score of 165, and college ready plus credit, with a score of 175 — for those students who achieve higher scores.

Thomas touted the local adult education services, which are free and provide multiple materials to students.

“We’re seeing more and more people coming to the tests and more and more of them being successful. We’re very, very proud of the success we’re having with the students,” Thomas said.

Across the state, about 1,880 test-takers have been identified who will be credentialed as a result of the passing score change, according to the Technical College System of Georgia’s Adult Education Office.