Staff members of a program designed to help people earn their General Education Development diploma — the GED high school equivalency diploma — are gearing up to help enrollees finish before the program changes the first of next year and they have to start over.
Andi Daniel, director of employment and training at District 4 Human Resources Development Council, said people who have started to get their high school equivalency degree through the GED program will have to start over if they have not completed the program by Dec. 31.
"That is the last time that someone will be able to take the test that is in print at this time," Daniel said. "If they don't take the test by then, all of their scores will go away."
She said HRDC is planning an intensive course — calling it "boot camp" — starting in June to help people finish their GED testing. Registration for the boot camp is planned to be held in May. The official GED test will be administered at the end of the seven-week course.
HRDC, which houses the Adult Basic Literacy Education program that provides adult training including for GED testing, is an official GED testing center in Havre and Fort Belknap.
The GED is a uniform test administered nationwide for high school equivalency, first developed in 1942. It has gone through several revisions, the last in 2002.
GED Testing Service, the company that offers the test, says it will switch to a new test in 2014, with a new focus on the common core curriculum being implemented throughout the United States, all testing done on computer — and an increase in cost, more than doubling the price from $55 to $120 for the full test.
Allyson Hagen, communications director for the Montana Office of Public Instruction, said the state government has not yet decided what it will do with the GED.
OPI created a committee, including a member of the state Board of Public Education that oversees the high school equivalency program and representatives of adult education programs in the state, to look at alternatives.
That committee will make its recommendations to the board during its March meeting, and the board then will decide whether to stay with the GED or go with another program, she said.
The Montana contract with GED Testing Service expires Dec. 31, she said.
Many people throughout the nation have said they want to try to finish the program before the change, citing the increased cost as well as concerns about computer-only testing and the possibility that the material could become more difficult.
Daniel said the change would affect a significant number of people in the area. At this point, more than 200 people have started the process but have not passed all of the tests at the HRDC testing center.
She said the adult education program at HRDC includes preparing people for the GED testing, although it also helps people prepare for college entrance exams or to simply increase their basic skills in reading, writing and math.
"There are no formal classes, and the program is highly individualized," Daniel said. "Each student designs a lesson plan with the instructor to work on the areas needed."
To participate in the program people need to register and complete an initial evaluation of their skills, which can be done each Wednesday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. No appointment is needed for the registration and evaluation.