GED takers improve passage rate

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South Carolina GED test-takers continued to improve their passage rate on the high school equivalency exam in 2011, and the state has continued to outperform the national passage rate for the past two years, according to the State Department of Education.

The state’s passage rate rose to 77.6 percent from last year’s 75.3 percent, compared to the national average of 72.2 percent. South Carolina achieved the second highest GED passage rate in the Southeast. Only North Carolina (86.9 percent) exceeded South Carolina’s passage rate. South Carolina was 10th in the number of candidates passing and 26th in the nation for total pass rate.

Since 2006, South Carolina’s passage rate on the GED has increased 12.6 percent. The number of GEDs earned in 2011 was 8,265, an increase of 516 from 2010. Since 2004, the number of GED diplomas in South Carolina has increased every year.

“Encouraging every student to graduate with a high school diploma will always be our top priority,” said State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais. “However, a GED is a better alternative to dropping out of high school and it opens doors to careers or post-secondary education. The credit for improving GED passage rates goes to the students and their parents, teachers, and mentors who support them in this process.”

General Educational Development (GED) tests are a group of five multiple-choice tests designed to measure the general knowledge and thinking skills required for a high school diploma. The South Carolina Department of Education issues a high school equivalency diploma to those who pass all five tests with an average score of 450 – for a total of 2250 – and a minimum score of 410 on each exam.

South Carolina’s GED administrator, David Stout, believes that expanded opportunities to take the GED exam at the local level and an increased commitment to professional development for adult education instructors have been key factors in improved performance.

In January 2010, South Carolina’s first five stand-alone GED test centers were established in Columbia, Rock Hill, Greenville, Summerville and Florence. In January 2011, two additional centers were established in Sumter and Conway. Instead of offering GED exams monthly or quarterly, multiple testing opportunities are provided each month at these centers.

Beginning this fall, GED test centers in South Carolina will pilot computer-based testing. The provider of the GED test, the American Council on Education, is implementing a plan to transition the GED test from a paper-and-pencil format to computer-based during 2012-2013. Only computer-based testing will be available beginning January 2, 2014. In addition, the GED test will be revised to provide students and educators college-readiness benchmarks.

A new opportunity for GED test-takers in the Midlands has recently also been announced. The Fast and Free Track GED program is a partnership between religious, governmental, business and educational entities whose objective is to make obtaining a GED easier for at-risk students.

The Nehemiah Project, an enterprise of Christ Central Ministries, abbreviates the classroom experience by focusing on student deficiency areas and improving those areas where a student can pass the GED. After receiving their GED, test-takers can take skill-based classes or career training at Midlands Technical College.

Additional information about the GED testing program in South Carolina may be found at the program’s website http://ed.sc.gov/agency/programs-services/92/ or by calling 803-734-8238.