Changes are on the horizon for high school equivalency diploma requirements

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With the focus on National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week this week, Piedmont Community College Adult Basic Skills (ABS) program personnel say there’s no better time than now for adults who want to earn their high school equivalency diplomas to get started.  Major changes are looming for the GED® testing program, including a new version of the test and a substantial increase in the prices students pay to take the test. New student enrollment is currently underway for fall classes and will continue until Oct. 12 for face-to-face classes and until Nov. 17 for blended classes that combine online and face-to-face instruction. These classes are offered at no cost to participants.  

The ABS program provides free instruction to adults who have not completed high school or who may have completed high school and need to brush-up on their skills before entering college. “Simply put, ABS is K-12 for adults to help them become college or career ready,” said Debra Harlow, ABS program director. Subjects offered include:  reading, writing, math, social studies and science in preparation for GED® testing, college placement testing, job readiness or for personal goals.  

Upcoming changes for the GED® test include a move to computer-based testing in 2013 and new content for tests in 2014. As a result, the GED® Testing Service estimates a 25% increase in the demand for GED® testing over the next 12 months. Students who have completed parts of GED® testing or who want to complete the test under the current system are encouraged to enroll now before the changes are implemented. 

“Anyone who has not completed GED® testing by December 2013 will have to start all over in January 2014 with the new version of GED® testing,” said Harlow.  

The price of the new test is also expected to increase substantially.  Students currently pay $25 in North Carolina for a test that includes all five subjects. Although no price has been set for the new test, the new price is expected to be several times the current price. This is another reason that people are being encouraged to complete their GED® testing now.  

During 2010-2011, a total of 1,169 adults enrolled in PCC’s ABS program in Person and Caswell counties. Of those at the secondary education level, 83% earned a high school equivalency credential and 53% entered postsecondary education or training.   

The PCC Foundation supports students who earn their high school equivalency diploma through GED® testing and want to continue their education at PCC. Students who apply and are approved may receive one free college course at PCC.  

In addition to the high school equivalency program, PCC also offers English as a Second Language classes for foreign born students; Compensatory Education for intellectually disabled students; and family education classes in conjunction with Early Headstart (Adults and Children in Education, ACE). Classes are offered day and evening at each campus, online and in the community as needed.  

In Person County, 19% of adults, ages 25 and older, did not complete high school and 3% lack English language proficiency. In Caswell County, 25% of adults, ages 25 and older did not complete high school and 2% lack English language skills. (US Census, 2005) 

Adult education and family literacy programs serve adult students who need to improve their basic literacy and math skills, improve their oral and written English and obtain a high school equivalency degree in order become employable, keep a job or enter vocational training or college. According to the latest national survey of adults, more than 93 million American adults have Basic or Below Basic literacy skills that limit their ability to advance at work and in education, help their children with school work, take care of their family’s health, and participate in their communities.  

Family education programs serve parents and their young children, teaching basic skills, and parenting skills to adults while their children also receive high quality instruction. These programs are focused on breaking the cycles of low literacy, low education and poverty. In addition to Early Headstart partners in Person Co., ABS also partners with the Person County Partnership for Children and the Department of Social Services to offer the family education class at Earl Bradsher Preschool in Roxboro.  

For more information about Adult Basic Skills Programs in Person County, contact Sylvia Gault at (336) 322-2155 or Lori Watlington at (336) 694-5707 in Caswell County. Or, visit PCC’s website at www.piedmontcc.edu  for information on this program or GED® testing.   The National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) (www.national-coalition-literacy.org), sponsor for National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, is a national adult education leadership organization comprised of member organizations and adult education professionals, committed to promoting adult education and literacy, family literacy, and English language development in the United States. NCL seeks to advance adult education, language, and literacy by fostering collaboration and advocacy at the national level among public and private organizations.