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October 20, 2014

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Education:

Adult students in Nevada to have equivalency-exam options beyond GED

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Student Deloris Rainey, left, works with teacher Erin Pustulka, right, in a GED preparation class in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013.

Adult High School

Aarik Poeling reads a Stephen King novel during his English class at Desert Rose Adult High School in North Las Vegas on Monday, Dec. 11, 2012. Aarik was kicked out of four CCSD schools for fighting, while his brother Aalik dropped out his freshman year and began selling drugs. The brothers, now 18 years old, are trying to get their lives in order and graduate high school. Launch slideshow »

Nevada will now accept passing scores from two new high school equivalency exams that will allow adult education students to graduate with a certificate akin to a high school diploma.

For years, Nevada’s high school dropouts and adult education students had to pass the GED test to receive a “Certificate of High School Equivalency.” This certificate allowed GED passers to pursue opportunities in higher education, work and the military.

In January, the publisher of the GED exam will begin administering a new, computerized assessment that is aligned with the more rigorous Common Core state standards. These new K-12 standards — adopted by 46 states — spell out what concepts students should master in each grade level. They focus more heavily on critical thinking and problem-solving skills educators say are critical in preparing students for college.

However, some states have balked at the cost of these new computerized GED tests, which could cost as much as $55 more than the traditional paper and pencil tests. In Nevada, the new computerized GED exam would cost up to $120, whereas the old tests cost $65, according to the website for the GED exam.

Seven states have dropped the GED exam in favor of cheaper, alternative high school equivalency exams made by other test publishers.

Furthermore, only four of Nevada’s 20 public GED test centers are equipped to administer the new computerized version of the exam. There are nine privately owned GED testing centers, connected to private test preparation companies, that can administer the new computerized exam.

Facing a steep cost increase and challenges implementing the new GED exam, Nevada’s K-12 education leaders decided to consider alternative test vendors for the high school equivalency exam. Nevada’s Education Department solicited information about three tests from publishers.

After reviewing the vendors’ responses, the Nevada Board of Education on Friday voted to accept the computerized GED test and two alternative tests as the state’s approved exams. The board will require that Nevada’s test centers offer both paper and computer options for the exam.

Here are details of the exams being accepted:

• GED, published by the GED Testing Service, offers a computerized version for most adult education students. Paper and pencil tests will be offered only at correctional centers on a provisional basis for one year.

Nevadans can take the GED exam for about $95, which includes two free retakes.

Students who are preparing to take the paper and pencil test have only 15 more dates on which to pass the exam before they will have to study for and pass the more rigorous, computerized test.

HiSET is published by Educational Testing Service, which also administers the SAT. There is both a paper and computerized version of the test, but they’re both cheaper for the state to implement than the GED, according to the vendor. However, Educational Testing Service must approve the test center, and that process will take a little more than a month.

Nevadans will be charged $65 to take the HiSET. The fee allows for two free retakes.

TASC is published by CTB/McGraw-Hill, a textbook publishing company. There are paper and computerized versions of the test, and they’re cheaper to implement than the GED and HiSET. There is no approval process for test centers to administer the TASC.

Nevadans will be charged $65 to take the TASC. The fee allows for two free retakes.

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