Anyone without a high school diploma who is thinking about getting a GED someday should do so soon, because in two years GED tests are expected to get harder and more expensive.
Bozeman School Board trustees attended a lunch meeting Tuesday at Willson School and heard an update on the Adult and Community Education program, which prepares people to take GED tests.
Byrdeen Warwood, Adult and Community Education coordinator, said big changes are coming in the national GED program, which allows people to earn a “general equivalency development” certificate, equivalent to a high school diploma.
The nonprofit American Council on Education has formed a joint venture with Pearson VUE, said CT Turner, public affairs director for the GED Testing Service. Pearson has announced plans to develop a new, more rigorous test to ensure people who pass the GED are ready for college or careers.
The new test is slated to start in January 2014, and anyone who hasn’t passed the old battery of GED tests by that date would have to start from scratch. The five-test battery now costs $55, but the new test is expected to cost significantly more.
“It’s exciting,” Warwood said of the upcoming changes. However, Warwood warned, people cannot wait until a few weeks before the cutoff date, Dec. 31, 2013, and expect to breeze through the old GED tests. The tests can take months to complete, depending on a student’s education level.
The Adult Basic Education and Literacy program, located on the second floor of Willson School, is funded by the state and federal governments and offers free instruction to adults, home-schooled students and high-school dropouts age 16 or older.
During the 2011 school year, the program grew to 282 people seeking GEDs. They were taught using both individual and classroom-style instruction. The program is open to people from Bozeman, Belgrade and elsewhere in Montana.
The program is “touching lives,” Warwood said.
It also offers free tutoring in English. Ellen Guettler, program coordinator, said dozens of community volunteers meet with people from 16 different countries who are eager to learn English.
The Adult and Community Education office also runs drivers education training, operates the Hawks Nest day care at Bozeman High, and offers Community Education night classes, which teach everything from how to make pies and truffles to how to do yoga, clogging and financial planning.