District residents will get a discounted rate for the GED starting next month as part of an effort to increase access to the recently overhauled high school equivalency test.
The discount — which will reduce the cost for all four subject tests from $120 to $15 — was announced this week as part of a new partnership between the city’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education and GED Testing Service.
About 40 percent of the District’s ninth-graders are not expected to graduate in four years. And an estimated 62,000 adults in the city do not have high school diplomas and have not passed the GED, putting them at a far greater risk of living in poverty and becoming incarcerated.
“For over 70 years, the GED test has provided millions of adults who did not finish high school a second chance to earn a high school credential,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) in a news release. “By reducing the price of the GED test, this initiative will give more District residents access to better job opportunities and higher education.”
The battery of tests known as the GED was recently revamped by the American Council on Education and Pearson, the world’s largest education and testing company, to align with Common Core standards and to respond to criticism that it has fallen short of its promise to offer a second chance for the 39 million adult Americans without high school diplomas.
Few of those who pass the GED pursue higher education, and most struggle to earn a living wage, research shows.
The new exam emphasizes skills that are more relevant to employers and colleges, including critical thinking and basic computer literacy.
“While we know that a GED certificate or high school diploma is not sufficient in today’s economy, it is an absolutely necessary milestone along one’s career pathway,” said State Superintendent Jesús Aguirre in a statement. “By providing expanded access to both GED testing and test preparation, this partnership is taking a major step forward in connecting the District’s adult learners to a secondary credential and the post-secondary career and educational opportunities that come with it.”
The new test is computer-based, and a paper-and-pencil version was abandoned. The price tag also increased.
The changes have prompted 10 states, including New York, New Hampshire and Montana, to go with other vendors who are developing other tests.
As part of the new partnership, the District will offer a GED credential to people who take the test outside of the country, or from federal prisons or military bases in other states.
Fees from that new service will fund the price reduction for city residents who take the test.
The city is already offering free practice tests for the new test through next Friday.
The reduced rate will be effective Oct. 6.