Vineyarders looking to obtain a high school degree through the General Education Development (GED) exam will soon see a new version of the test.
The state Department of Education announced recently that it will offer a new high school equivalency test in place of the GED.
The state has contracted with the nonprofit Educational Testing Service (ETS) to administer the High School Equivalency Test or HiSET instead of the GED, the state’s equivalency credential exam since 1945.
Marketed as an affordable alternative, HiSET was chosen among three new tests, including a revised GED, in part for its flexibility.
The change was announced at a recent regional high school committee meeting.
While all new test providers promised to evaluate higher-level cognitive skills than before, ETS agreed to make the adjustments to the curriculum slowly, said JC Considine, director of board and media relations at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“The great appeal is that ETS is going to gradually incorporate the higher standards,” he said.
The former GED cost $70. The state has not yet determined the fee structure for the HiSET, but is expected to do so within the next few weeks.
And while GED’s new test is only available via computer, ETS will give testing centers a choice to offer pencil and paper or computer-based testing, or both.
The regional high school, a GED testing center since the late 1970s, plans to offer the new test, with details still being worked out.
“We will make every effort to continue to do it here, but exactly what the test will look like is uncertain,” said Jeffrey Agnoli who has administered the test at the high school since 1996.
It’s likely that the test will be offered on the Island in pencil and paper form first, with computerized options forthcoming, Mr. Considine said.
Mr. Agnoli isn’t sure when the test will be available or when training will be developed to prepare students to take the test.
The state has said it will introduce the new test in late January or early February.
On the Vineyard, 27 people passed the GED test last year, including five inmates at the county jail. Between a third and half of registrants are within two years of leaving high school, Mr. Agnoli said.
Many Islanders take the test because they need it to move onto the next step in licensing in the trades, or to enroll in college courses, he said.
He said he hopes the new test will be up and running as soon as possible.
“A delay means a delay in life plans that they have set in motion, and my concern is that we get back online as quickly as we can,” Mr. Agnoli said.
Over the next three years, the HiSet will work to align with the Common Core, a standard curriculum adopted in many states including Massachusetts. The test, like the old GED, will take a little more than seven hours to complete.
Throughout the commonwealth, some 11,000 adults seek an equivalency credential each year.
Islanders interested in taking the test in the near future can contact Mr. Agnoli at firstname.lastname@example.org.