GED program to see changes

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By Brandon Mattingly

Now, maybe more than ever, is the time to get a GED in the state of Kentucky with mass changes to testing coming at the turn of the year.

Richie Hamilton, administrative assistant at the Washington County Adult Education Center, said the program will move away from paper testing to become completely computerized in 2014. Those who have already completed portions of the test risk losing their progress if they don’t act by the December deadline.

“With the new rules with the 2014 GED, it’s going to require that if they don’t take it by our last testing date, they’ll have to start all over from step one,” Hamilton said. “If they’ve done all that work and gotten that far in the testing, it’s a shame if they have to go all the way back to the beginning and start from scratch.”

The center, which is located on the bottom floor of the ECTC (Elizabethtown Technical and Community College) Springfield campus building, will hold its final testing days on Dec. 10 and 11. Hamilton said testing will continue statewide until Dec. 18, but that any GED hopeful would need to find another testing location if it’s past the local center’s deadline.

Hamilton also said that the center’s records show more than 50 people who have completed some, but not all, portions of the GED test. He added that some of those tests could have since been completed at other sites, but that many are likely to still need to be completed to beat the changes that are on the way.

Some of the changes to the 2014 test will be centered around content, while Hamilton also stressed that typing skills will also be necessary in the future.

“I think there’s going to be a little bit of calculus that they’re going to add to the test. Also, there won’t just be an A, B, C or D choice; there are going to be some responses that they’ll have to do. The essay portion of the test is going to be a little broader as well,” Hamilton said. “We don’t want to discourage anyone from taking the test in 2014, but we’d like them to get in here and get started if they’re uncomfortable with keyboarding.”

The new testing system will allow Kentucky Adult Education to record and maintain feedback from the tests, and that a computer class to help test-takers with typing skills could be implemented in the future.
Hamilton said those looking to take either the current test or the new one shouldn’t hesitate to seek assistance at the adult education center.

“A lot of the individuals that come in for testing lack confidence. Here at the center, we have two instructors who work really hard to get them ready and boost their confidence to get ready for this testing,” he said. “There may be a portion of the test they don’t understand and that’s what we’re here for, to work with them. I can’t stress that enough. Our instructors will work one-on-one in math, language and reading skills.”

Hamilton also said that TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) testing can be completed for anyone wanting to know where they currently stand in their search to attain a GED. The practice testing system pinpoints weaknesses and gives detailed feedback to instructors to know what areas an individual needs to focus on.

He added that getting a GED in today’s society is more important than ever, and pointed to work that he’s done providing testing for local industries like Toyotomi, Angell and Fuji Seal.

“Everything is changing,” Hamilton said. “If someone goes out for employment, more than ever they require a GED. The ones who don’t have their GED are going to fall short.”

Another reason to get testing completed by the end of the year is an upcoming rise in cost. Currently, the cost is $60 for anyone who hasn’t previously taken the test and $30 to re-attempt an incomplete portion or portions. In 2014, the cost to start a test from scratch will be $120, which would be an extra $90 investment for those who are at risk of losing their progress at the end of the year.

Washington County Community Action, Hamilton said, currently provides assistance to those unable to meet the testing fees. While the group is likely to continue providing help in the future, discussions are yet to be held to determine how much support they’ll be able to give.

With the adult education center’s goal of helping 96 people attain their GED, Hamilton re-iterated that they’re there to help.

“We just want people to get in here and work with us,” he said. “We don’t care how long it’s been since you tested, we want people to come through this door so we can help them get their GED.”

New program starts Oct. 21
A Data Entry Operator Certificate program will start at the Washington County Adult Education Center on Oct. 21, continuing through Jan. 31.

The program is for anyone considering going into a clerical or customer service field, and does not require a GED as a prerequisite.

Computer classes will be offered that increase skills in Microsoft Office and keyboarding. There will also be business writing and communications courses, introduction to information systems, documenting and formatting, a business seminar and a success coach to work with individuals.

“They’ll get the training needed to move forward in that area. We want everybody to know it’s a free program, but there are only 18 slots available,” Hamilton said. “They don’t need a GED for this program, but after they finish the program, we’d like them to come in to work on their GED as well. It just makes it easier as they move forward in their life, because as we’re seeing in 2014, you never know what’s coming along.”

Anyone with questions about the upcoming GED changes or the Data Entry Operator Certificate program can contact Hamilton (Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at (859) 336-1709.