We are very happy to have been refunded for the GED Practice Test program at the Dudley Library, funded by the Fellowes Athenaeum Trust of the Boston Public Library. We have been running this program since 2007 and have been funded every year at the maximum possible grant amount.
The GED Practice Test Program is a collaboration between RCC and the Dudley Library that offers the GED Practice Test to adults and out-of-school youth; this is an opportunity for community residents to take the GED Practice Test at no cost. The GED Practice Test provides a gateway to earning the GED Diploma. The program is a resource both for individuals in need of a GED and local GED programs.
Citywide, 50% of those who take the GED exam every year fail it on the first try because they are not sufficiently prepared. The Official GED costs each of these individuals time and money—time that may be better spent in preparation until they are ready to pass. But those who have dropped out of school may be well out of the educational loop, and often do not know where to go or how to get started in a preparation program. The Practice Test program, which includes a chance to try the exams at no cost, plus follow-up counseling with GED staff, is a great introduction to the GED material and testing process, as well as to the preparation resources in Roxbury and Boston.
Each Practice Test session lasts about four hours; this includes an introduction and Q& A session, followed by three sections of the Official GED Practice Test—Math, Reading, and Writing. Exams are scored within 7-10 days, and participants are contacted by phone with their results. Follow-up includes an explanation of scores, and counseling concerning next steps. We often follow up not only with individual participants, but with their GED teachers from various local programs, helping them to target instruction and keep their students motivated and engaged.
Participants whose scores indicate readiness for the Official GED will be awarded Testing Scholarships ($65) to take the Official GED test at Roxbury Community College. Participants who are unsuccessful in attaining a passing score are referred to local GED preparation programs in the area, such as College Bound Dorchester, GED Plus, X-Cel Education, and Catholic Charities. RCC GED staff communicate regularly with area GED programs to ensure quality referrals are made.
This is a particularly important year for people who still need to earn their GED, because the test is changing in 2014. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is currently evaluating exams to replace the GED, and is expected to announce their decision and the details of the new high school equivalency exam in September. We know that the new exam will be aligned with the Common Core Standards, will be more difficult than the current exam, and very possibly more expensive. Anyone who has not passed the current test by December 2013 will have to start over on the new test next year.
This has caused something of a rush in GED statewide; many people are hurrying to take or complete their GED in 2013. So far this year at RCC we have tested nearly 1000 people through the GED test center—more than we have tested in any other complete year.
We will release the schedule for the Fall 2013 GED Practice Test program in about a week; we expect to hold sessions in September and October. We are thrilled to be able to offer the GED Practice Test program this fall, so that we try to get everyone who can earn a GED their diploma before the year is out! It will also enable us to offer a Practice Test aligned to the 2014 exam once it is released. We anticipate that test-takers in 2014 may need to take preparation classes to familiarize themselves with the new content and format.
Benefits of the program:
- It's free. The Official Practice Test costs $15--$25 dollars at most GED Test Centers.
- It's accessible. The Dudley Literacy Center and Dudley Library are in well-known, central locations, accessible by public transportation. Also, both RCC staff and the Literacy Center staff have hard-earned reputations for being helpful and encouraging to those who take the considerable step of inquiring about a GED.
- It's fast. The Official GED Exam requires up to 8 hours of testing, usually split across several days. The Practice Test is a thorough assessment that can be completed in a four-hour session.
- It provides needed feedback about performance. When someone takes the Official GED, the test company does not provide any score analysis, so those who fail are often left to wonder which types of questions they got right and wrong. This year we hope to introduce a more thorough method of analyzing Practice Test performance, which is a very valuable tool in test preparation.
Maximum Number Served in each prior year:
2007—2008: 89 attendees / 8 sessions
2008—2009: 109 attendees / 6 sessions
2009—2010: 180 attendees / 5 sessions
2010—2011: 88 attendees / 6 sessions
2011—2012: 213 attendees / 9 sessions
2012—2013: 173 attendees / 5 sessions
- Over 700 individuals have participated in the GED Practice program
- 186 GED Testing Scholarships have been awarded to those with qualifying scores
- 125 of the 186 have earned their GED diplomas to date—and many more are testing this summer and expected to have their diplomas this summer!
- Referrals made to all those who need improvement