As adult education programs around the country discuss the pros and cons of Computer Based Testing (CBT) for the GED® Exam, it may be helpful to explore the experiences of one of the Illinois pilot programs. Frontier Community College (FCC) was notified in July of 2012 that they were chosen to represent downstate Illinois as one of three pilot programs for CBT. Frontier Community College opened their pilot of CBT on Oct. 29th.
On Oct. 30, 2012, the first candidate at FCC completed the computer-based test and within the first week, the number jumped to 11 testing candidates. As with testing candidates across the state, each test taker brought unique skills, background knowledge, and experiences to the test. They ranged in age from 17 to 55, had minimal to no typing skills. The oldest student had never turned on a computer until four months prior to taking the CBT. So, how did it turn out? Nine of the eleven candidates passed the portion of the GED® test for which they tested. The candidates were very positive about the test indicating that it was easier. They felt they could relate to the topic of the essay question. As a result, test takers felt it improved their writing. The testers noted the display of the test allowed for each question or item set to be shown individually. The outcome was the ability to focus on one question at a time. FCC testers were relieved to not have to worry about bubbling an answer on the wrong line.
Teaching in the adult education classroom for over 10 years, I celebrated the gradation of hundreds of students and cheered on many students who decided to take the step into college. Darlene is one of those students and she had a goal to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree. Now, over $25,000 in debt and without a completed degree, I wondered what went wrong. Although my students were passing their GED® Tests and entering college, their experiences have been very similar to Darlene’s. I knew I needed to explore what went wrong. Statistics show that only 27% of students who need remedial math reach degree completion. I needed to evaluate what it really means to be college and career ready so that my students can success.
I was presenting in Northern Illinois a few years back. After my session I was approached by a librarian who was so excited to meet me and to hear about the i-Pathways Project. We stood and talked for about 10 minutes after my distance learning info session. It was one of the best after-session conversations I have had. She planted the seed of an idea in my head. I brought that seed back and discussed it with Kathy Tracey, i-Pathways Project Coordinator, and David Baker, Associate Director of AEFL Professional Development. I knew I needed some help deciding how to use what I gained from the conversation with the librarian. Continue reading
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.