Graduation rates Testing

Teacher: The Néw High School Equivalency Exam is a Travesty

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An earlier post described what happened after Pearson bought the GED and aligned it with Common Core. Passing rates collapsed by as much as 90%. The GED is a high school graduation test for students who didn’t finish the traditional four year high school course.


This New York teacher explains her own experience with the TASC, which is McGraw=Hill’s version of the GED and is also aligned with the Common Core standards:


Thank you so much for writing on this important and often overlooked topic. I would like to add insight about the TASC exam, which has replaced the GED in New York State and Indiana (their website also names New Jersey and West Virginia). I’m not sure about the new GED, but for the TASC it is important for people to know *how* the new test has become harder.


The old GED was a reading test that sought to test the test-taker’s ability to read, synthesize, and comprehend complex text in the content areas. The test taker would read a passage about, say, methods of union suppression during the early 1900s, and then respond to a series of text-dependent questions. McGraw Hill could have chosen to make the test more rigorous and more Common Core aligned by increasing the text complexity and deepening the questions. They did not do this.


The new TASC exam is a content test. In the science and social studies sections, the texts have been removed, and the questions are straight out of Trivial Pursuit: “What does red shift of light from a star indicate about that star?” If you know the answer, you pass. If you don’t, too bad.


I work with recent immigrants who need to pass this test in order to pursue life, academic, and career goals. In the old GED days, we would work on English together and improve reading and writing abilities – basically getting them ready for college, and by proxy, the test. These days we struggle to help students remember a large number of discreet academic facts and trivia, hoping that by some magic, what they learn through sitting in my class for six months will be what appears on the test.


I do not have a problem with the idea of the test of career and college readiness getting harder. I do have a huge problem with this new exam. The test has gotten stupider, and it seems to be a worse measure of a student’s career and college readiness.


Thank you again for helping to spread the word.

Mle Davis
NYC Teacher

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