GED preparation and testing will be receiving a makeover in the coming months. The changes are expected to help ready students for careers and higher education. “The biggest difference is in how the test is administered. Right now there are test sheets and booklets, with number two pencils, what people consider traditional testing,” said Chris Dahlke, coordinator of the adult literacy program with the WAPS Community Education department. “The first of the year it’s turning into a completely electronic system; the registration and testing is all done on the computer,” Dahlke said. “The format in which it’s presented will be different, and there will be changes in the content itself as well.” Dahlke also pointed out that, “the content is going to be more difficult.”
The test series currently consists of five tests in social studies, science, math, writing, and reading. The new series will be four tests, with the writing section incorporated into the reading and social studies tests, Dahlke noted. Although the writing section may have been eliminated, the grading of the writing will be held to higher standards than in the past, he added.
The pricing will also be changing as of 2014, currently it is $70 to take the five GED tests, as of 2014 it will be $120 to take the updated four GED tests.
With the changes to the testing, the teachers will be helping the students focus on what is important, Dahlke said. “The GED program is going to be different for each individual student; not everyone is going to be on the same skill level. Someone may test off the charts on reading, but may need more help in math,” the program is very individualized. Practice tests of similar format to the official tests will be available to students as well, Dahlke added. GED prep sessions offered by WAPS Community Ed are six weeks long. “Students must be there on the first day to sign up and register, or they will have to wait until the next session,” Dahlke explained. If the students are comfortable and feel they are prepared, they can take the test before the six weeks is up, or they can use the entire time to prep for the tests, Dahlke said. There are three sessions before and three sessions after Christmas. There is also one summer session that is going on right now. There are day, afternoon, and evening classes available to accommodate a variety of schedules.
For those who may miss the start of one of the six-week GED prep courses, there is also a Future Transitions program offered at SE Tech, Dahlke said. It is a seven-week program that can be started anytime during that seven weeks, he noted. “Participants can practice for the GED tests, or focus on things they want to improve, like their math skills or their reading,” Dahlke explained. “It’s there to prepare students for whatever they are looking to do,” Dahlke added.
Dahlke also encourages people to volunteer with the GED program; if you do have skills in math, reading, or computers and are willing to volunteer, contact the Community Ed office. The volunteers must be approved by WAPS School Board and anyone is welcome to volunteer. One thing the Community Education office would love is more volunteers skilled in computer and technology. “We can get them started doing a lot of the basics in the computers, but we’d like people with more insight into the systems,” Dahlke noted. “The most important skill [for volunteers] is patience,” Dahlke added.
For those who have already begun the GED process, Dahlke stresses that the tests need to be finished before the end of December. Anyone who wants to begin the GED process should keep in mind that Community Ed will not be accepting any new applicants for the paper-based, less expensive tests after October 1st. Anyone who starts in November will have to prepare for the new electronic test, Dahlke said. Those who haven’t completed all of their tests need to hurry if they don’t want to pay to take the new tests. For students who are unable to get their tests done before the year is up, Dahlke has one thing to say, “Regardless of whether it’s now or later, we’ll always be here to help.”
For more information on Community Education stop by 317 Market Street, Winona, call 507-494-0900, or visit. www.wce.new.rschooltoday.com/