We are concerned changes to the Ohio GED will hurt the very people it's intended to help.
Recently announced changes to the general equivalency diploma include an increased cost and the need to take the test on a computer, even if the student doesn't have good computer/typing skills. Beginning in 2014, the price of the test will increase from $40 to $120 and pencil and paper will no longer be an option when it comes to taking the test.
We hope local efforts can be expanded to level the playing field for everyone. In the past, the $40 fee was waived if the person taking the test passed a pretest. We think the state should return to that practice and waive at least a portion of the cost if not all of it as long as a passing grade is achieved on a pretest. We also think the state should continue to offer the test in paper form.
While it's true many people have at least limited computer skills, many still do not. In low income areas it's of special concern because many people still cannot afford computers or laptops of their own. It's reasonable to think there could be a wide range of skills out there and as a safety net, the paper version of the test should still be offered.
Either way, more effort is going to have to be made to ready students and adults wanting to take the test. The new test will be harder, and in light of the computer skills now required, students will have to have training options available to them to get them the skills they need. One group helping to get the word out about the changes, and working to get test takers ready, is the Adult Basic and Literacy Education program in Washington County. But other groups will have to get involved.
For many in our community, the GED is the first step in improving their personal economy. We want people to be encouraged to achieve, not discouraged. The process should be as fair as possible to as many as possible.