“The big thing about the change is that anyone who has passed some of their tests going for the GED has to pass the rest of them before Dec. 31 or they will have to start completely over,” Evans said of current students.
But McGowan said one of the advantages of switching to the computer-based format is the speed at which the tests are graded.
“Students will know immediately whether they have passed or not,” he said.
Another change will be an increase in the cost of the test, which is currently $90 at Weatherford College for all five sections.
“The costs change depending on the testing location, but I’m expecting to see at least a 50 percent increase in cost for the new test,” McGowan said.
With the changes coming, Evans, McGowan and other members of the Weatherford ISD Adult Education Program have been undergoing training of their own, concentrating on keyboard use and computer skills while attending webinars from other testing services.
“We’re having to change our instructional format so that the students are as comfortable with taking the test as they are with the academics,” McGowan said. “Our staff has been increasing our technology capabilities, and there will be computer skills that the students have to demonstrate just to take the test.”
The GED preparation program, which is completely free of charge to anyone interested in joining, has seen tremendous success in both the GED and ELA portions.
“We usually serve around 350 students in a year, including ELA and GED, but 50 to 60 percent is probably GED students,” McGowan said.
Each student begins with an initial assessment with adult education staff, and from that point, a specific plan is selected for the individual.
“Most people begin their work between the eighth grade and high school level,” Evans said. “Once they begin attending classes and working, we can administer an OPT, which will indicate how they would do on the GED.