With state funding for literacy programs and adult education reduced, the federally-funded GED Testing Service has rolled out its new 2014 program and computerized test just in time with several advantages.
Whereas the old paper tests had to be mailed away for grading, which took one to two weeks, the new computerized test results are available "within a couple of hours," explains Sarah Rowe, a test administrator for Pearson VUE authorized GED Testing Center located at the Will Rogers Complex in Bartlesville.
GED describes the new system as a start-to-finish program, offered year-round, designed to maximize the student’s success.
"You’ll be glad to know there are no more essays on the test," said Gail Boe, who serves as both Oklahoma’s Literacy Coalition President and as Pawhuska’s Literacy Council Director.
According to Dr. Stephanie Curtis, Director of Federal Programs for the Bartlesville School District and former Oklahoma State GED Administrator, the old GED Test consisted entirely of multiple choice questions and one written essay. Whereas, the new 2014 GED Test has a variety of test question formats including short response, fill in the blank, drag and drop, multiple choice, and two extended response questions.
The extended response questions require test-takers to write several paragraphs and compare and contrast given texts. The new extended response questions require much more critical thinking than the old opinion-based essay, Curtis explained.
The Bartlesville location at the Will Rogers Complex also serves Pawhuska and the surrounding area. There are also sites in Tulsa and Miami, Rowe said.
The first step is to sign up at the Will Rogers Complex and take a pre-assessment test.
"This lets them know how long it will take them to prepare," Rowe said.
Once signed up, students are assigned to the class best suited to their schedules. There are two classes at the Will Rogers Complex Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. One class serves minors and the other serves adults, Rowe said. An evening class held on Tuesdays and Thursdays is also available.
In addition, there are classes at Tri-County Technology Center on Monday and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and a class at the Salvation Army from 6 – 9 p.m.
According to Dr. Curtis, all GED Testing Centers in Oklahoma charge the same flat rate for the 2014 GED Test. The cost is $34 per subject area module. There are four modules: Reasoning through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies. The cost for all four modules is $136. Students register for the test online and pay online with a credit card. Students select the GED Testing Center where they want to test and the date and time they want to take the test.
Classes are also offered at the WorkForce office in Pawhuska located at 516 Leahy, on Monday and Thursday evenings 5:30 – 8 p.m.
Scholarships are available for those attending classes at the Will Rogers Complex, Rowe said, but commitment to complete the program is expected of a scholarship student, who first must fill out an application. During the follow-up interview, students are asked the reason they dropped out of high school and are seeking a scholarship to pursue the GED.
"Students drop out of school for a variety of reasons. We try to get the full story from the student to determine if they’re eligible for it or not," Rowe said.
Granted on a case-by-case basis, the scholarships are locally funded by donations from the Washington County Oklahoma Home and Community Education Club, the Bartlesville Limestone Lions Club and the Bartlesville Tuxedo Lions Club, Rowe said.
Adult education classes are available for students of all ages. Sixteen and 17-year-olds, need written releases from their high schools, stating that they have officially withdrawn from the school system, Rowe said. Then, the student, accompanied by parent/guardian, must apply to attend the GED Program at the Will Rogers Complex.
"The time it takes to complete the preparation program varies," Rowe said.
"This is an individualized road-map to help them succeed," Boe said. "First we teach our adult learners to use the computer – the basic digital skills that employers say they will need to succeed."
The computerized GED test consists of four modules, with time allowed depending on the subject: Language Arts 155 min., mathematical reasoning 115 min., Science, 95 min., Social Studies 95 min., Rowe said.
"Testing on computer provides increased flexibility in scheduling testing," Boe said.
According to Rowe, tests may be taken one by one or two sections at a time with a ten-minute break between them. In the alternative, students may schedule a lunch period between the tests, Rowe said.
Since January 2014, when the computerized GED test began, the overall pass rate has increased.
"More than 2,000 tests have been given on computer and the pass rate is nearly 15 percent higher than the paper tests," Boe said.
At the GED testing centers and website www.GEDtestingservice.com practice tests are available to increase preparedness.
"They give so much information on how to prepare for the test," Boe said. "From what I understand, the math part is what has changed the most. A calculator appears on the screen. You take no pen and paper into the test, but you get to use a dry erase board. The formulas are provided, but you have to know which one to use on a given problem."
"The adult education classes provided by the Bartlesville Adult Learning Center at the Will Rogers Complex are funded by a federal grant administered by the Lifelong Learning Section at the Department of Education. Although state funding has been reduced during the last couple of years, federal funding is still available to the Will Rogers Complex through the Workforce Investment Act," Dr. Curtis said. Funding for local literacy councils has always been provided through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, she added.
"We lost our state grant last year," Boe said of the Pawhuska Literacy Council she directs.
"Nineteen percent of the population can’t read over a fourth grade level and those that can, have comprehension problems," Boe said. "Those with GEDs have the same earning power as high school graduates."
With cutbacks on literacy and adult education programs statewide, the GED program provides much needed assistance and Boe remains committed.
"I’m fighting for adults," Boe said. Her goals are to help adult learners: become literate through local literacy programs, successfully complete the GED program, pass the GED test and thereby maximize their earning potential.
To sign up for adult education and GED preparation classes in Bartlesville, visit the Will Rogers Complex located at 4620 S.E. Frank Phillips, Blvd., Bartlesville, or call 918-336-6560.
To sign up for the prep class offered at WorkForce in Pawhuska call 918-287-2410. To arrange for tutoring by the Pawhuska Literacy Council contact them via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Leanna Boe at 918-645-7820 or Gail Boe at 918-440-7820.
To sign up for the prep class offered at WorkForce in Pawhuska call 918-287-2410.