Fear not the 2014 Assessment – You can handle it!

I remember in 1999 and 2000 when discussion about the “new” GED test was the hot topic in adult education. The changes announced by GEDTS sent waves of concern and apprehension and excitement through the field. The calculator portion of the test was added which led to concerns about teaching calculator use and accessibility. There were concerns about media literacy with the addition of the political cartoons. Overall season teachers and seasoned administrators alike felt uneasy but ready to take on the next generation of adult education standardized testing.

Here we are a little more than a decade later and the new assessment is a hot topic again.  I just finished reading a white paper recently released by GEDTS. The white paper talks about the reasoning behind and goals for the 2014 assessment. GEDTS also shares the processes and procedures they used to explore, guide and develop the new test.  This is a link to the PDF article.
The information shared by GEDTS is quite helpful. It has helped me to feel more at ease about the changes and I hope it helps you to feel more at ease as well.
We have been working hard over the past 18 months to get ready for the 2014 Assessment.  i-Pathways will be ready for the new test in the last quarter of FY13.  We have been working hard behind the scenes to align with the Common Core Standards.  We have evaluated all of our curriculum based on what GEDTS is sharing and also on the Common Core.  There will be new i-Pathways curriculum pieces available in Science, Social Studies, Reading/Writing and Math.  It is going to be exciting to release the new pieces to our users.  I know students are going to benefit so much and I know programs are going to be thrilled with the changes and additions.  Very exciting times!
Changes in the test always bring about a rumbling both excitement and trepidation.  Adult education has been through changes to the test and funding and reporting since I have been in the field in the early 1990s.  There is always fear of the unknown and fear of the impacted these changes might have on the classroom and students. One thing I have witnessed and know for sure, we are a resilient group of educators and we are very adaptable.  We can handle all these changes and will work hard with and for out students.
What are your thoughts and questions on the new test?

7 thoughts on “Fear not the 2014 Assessment – You can handle it!

  1. For those of us that made the transition to the new (now current) GED ® Test in 2002, the new test content changes, alignment with common core standards, etc. are not the main concerns. It is the proposed delivery system or computer-based testing (CBT) that has a lot of Illinois Adult Education (AE) program administrators and instructors wary. Questions swirl: What level of computer literacy proficiency will be required for students to be comfortable and successful when taking a CBT GED Test? Are GED preparation classrooms and its instructors technologically equipped to provide feasible access to computers in preparing students for the CBT? How will AE programs develop curricula, introduce and teach basic computer literacy skills?
    It appears i-Pathways users will definitely have a leg up in some of these areas. While i-Pathways is not in of its self a computer literacy curriculum, it is a computer/web-based, distance learning program that can introduce or help bring AE programs up to speed in our fast moving digital age. Through training, implementation and usage of i-Pathways, AE programs develop a working knowledge of computer/web-based teaching and learning platforms and a familiarity with basic computer technology. Many of the computer navigation skills that students will learn and apply as a distance learner in the i-Pathways program parallel those that will be required for the CBT. Take a look at GED Testing Service ® CBT Tutorial. http://www.gedtestingservice.com/GEDTS%20Tutorial.html

    • Cindy, your comments mirror the comments regarding computer-based testing, CBT we are hearing at the national level. The test is going to cost more and that is one major concern for state level and local program administrators. Another prominent concern is the computer literacy skills needed to do computer-based testing. Programs should more than likely be considering how computer literacy fits into their program again…I know computer literacy classes existed years ago when i-Pathways first came on to the scene but the need for those classes has shifted a bit over the past several years. I expect we will see a revival of those types of classes and that type of info covered in local program orientations. Professional development (PD) for instructors is also going to be a critical element of the overall success of a program’s prep for the 2014 Assessment. i-Pathways provides assistance to teachers who are new to technology. Our new user training makes using the i-Pathways system a breeze. Our teaching and learning online trainings help instructors get a handle on how to work with students online. There will more than likely be more PD needed to get some teachers up to speed on the use of technology so they are better able to prepare their students for computer-based testing.

  2. I have some of the same concerns that Cindy has. If i-Pathways was the only GED program around, the issue of the computer testing would not be an issue. i-Pathways students need to be pretty computer literate before enrolling in the program. Since I also teach traditional classroom GED/ABE students, I have a big concern about the computer testing. Most of my students do not own a computer and no little to nothing about using one. I see instructors needing to have computer access in their classrooms, and initiating some kind of computer use curriculum in their classrooms.

    I also feel that most of our students are going to find that it’s going to take longer for them to be test ready than in the past. I believe that the math portion of the test, combined with the computer testing, will be a hurdle needing jumped before they are test ready.

  3. Traditional Classroom experiences are going to need to include some kind of computer-based experience for learners. There is no question about this. Learning to read passages on a computer and respond to questions about those passages is a skill set that may need to be taught to those who have been computer resistant in their learning efforts in the past. i-Pathways will be adding (prior to the new test) a piece to their Test Taking curriculum that will help programs to address this. Getting students mentally prepare for what they will encounter in testing centers compared with what they have encountered in the past will be key. Just taking away the mystery will help students a ton. Linda, what plans do you have at your program to address some of the changes, not just with your online students (because they will have a bit of a leg-up anyway based on having prepared for the test online), but with your traditional classroom students as well? Any plans to use i-Pathways as an in class supplement?

  4. As teachers start to prepare students for the new GED tests, they will need to have the same computer skills as the students. Teachers and students will need to be able to type short and extended answers, have mouse skills for drag and drop questions, be able to navigate in a TAB mode and move back and forth in the tests. I did a practice question on the new test and I found that the user must move in a tab mode to read the selections, use the mouse for a drag and drop, go back in the text to find the answers and type a simple answer. There were pictures and some of the questions involved reading the captions to get the answers Also, the social studies topics seemed to require some pre-knowledge on the subject. i-Pathways will really need to be used by GED instructors to help students and teachers acquire the skills needed. Using i-pathways will allow the teacher and the student to work in an envirionment similar to the new GED Tests which will give them the confidence they need. Programs that have access to i-Pathways should use on a regular basis it even if it is only as supplemental material. The more students use i-Pathways the easier the tests will be for them as they will have the computers skills needed and once they have the computer skills, they can focus on content.

    • Barb, I totally agree. If the teacher doesn’t have the computer knowledge needed for the new testing, they aren’t going to be able to teach the students. i-Pathways is the program that can give the teachers and students practice in computer use and subject matter at the same time. Using i-Pathways as a classroom supplement is an excellent way to introduce the students to the computer skills needed, and still be working on the information needed to pass the tests.

  5. The i-Pathways team just came out of a meeting related to the question samples that were shared by GEDTS. Our goal in the upcoming months is to not only to align the content with the common core standards, which we have been working on for some time, but to mimic the question types more closely as well. It is an exciting time for our curriculum revision/enhancement team and our system revision team.

    Although it is interesting to see the new content to be covered, the new ways the content will be addressed, and the new question types. I think those interesting points pale compared to the technology integration that GEDTS has unleashed. I am not saying this is a bad thing, because I believe it is not a bad thing. Those in educational leadership roles who have not embraced technology in the past will have to make an effort to embrace it in the here and now. Those students who have not had the experience or desire to embrace technology in the past will have to make an effort to learn and embrace it now. Programs will need to think about how to get the proper PD for those educators who need it. Programs will need to think about how they are going to offer classes that prepare students for CBT. It is not the end of the world but rather a new approach to offering the standardized test we have been assisting our students in passing for many, many years.

    *Smiles ~ Crystal*

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