New computer-based GED test to be released in 2014


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In order to maintain Iowa’s position as the state with the highest GED pass rate, instructors in both Iowa City and across the state will practice new methods to prepare their students for a new computer-based test.

“Since the GED remains a timed assessment, digital literacy will need to be incorporated into the instruction of future testing candidates,” said Alex Harris, state director of adult education at the Iowa Department of Education.

Sean McAtee, an Iowa City GED instructor and coordinator at Kirkwood Community College High-School-Completion Programs, agreed.

“We will have to make sure our students are prepared to use the computer for testing,” McAtee said. “Assessing their computer skills will become more important as we want to make sure each student feels comfortable in a [computer-based test] environment.”

Marcel Kielkucki, the director of high-school-completion programs at Kirkwood in Iowa City, said the college will start offering computer-based GED testing in March in an effort to phase students into the new format.

“The big way we will need to change is to incorporate more computer activities in our preparation programs — especially keyboarding,” Kielkucki said.

McAtee also highlighted the importance of training students in typing proficiency.

“We are working to offer more word-processing coursework for students so that they are able to simply type fast enough for a timed test,” he said.

Roughly 1,500 to 2,000 students enroll in Kirkwood’s High-School-Completion Programs per year. Of those students, around 450 to 475 earn either a GED or an adult high-school diploma, Kielkucki said.

In 2011, 3,573 people took the complete GED test in Iowa. Of those people, 3,499 people passed the test and received an “Iowa High School Equivalency Diploma,” Harris said.

“Iowa has the highest pass rate in the country,” said CT Turner, the director of public affairs at GED Testing Service, noting that Iowa has a pass rate of around 97 to 98 percent, which has stayed consistent over recent years.

Though Iowa preparatory programs will need to make changes to maintain the highest pass rate, Kielkucki said computer-based tests will be more convenient for students.

“Right now, we offer paper-based testing two days a week in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City,” he said. “With [computer-based testing], our current plan … will [initially] allow students to test Monday through Friday at our test center in Cedar Rapids.”

McAtee said the new test makes the GED more accessible to students.

“The GED will be easier to fit into students’ busy lives, because once they have pre-registered, they will be able to go take the test whenever the test center is open,” he said.

What’s more, Turner said, test results could come immediately after completion of the test.

“People will get instant score reports,” Turner said.

McAtee said instant results eliminate anxiety caused by waiting.

“By taking the GED on the computer, students will get instant scores rather than having to wait — sometimes nervously — 24 to 48 hours as with the paper version,” he said.

Turner said the test has been well received thus far.

“We’re getting rave reviews,” he said.

Turner said test takers who take the computer-based GED test are more likely to finish faster and pass the test.

The new test will be released Jan. 2, 2014.

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