America may have pioneered universal compulsory education and fostered one of the world’s most admired networks of public universities. But frustration with the performance of its schools is a constant concern. And the fact that nearly one in every six students fails to graduate from high school provides glaring evidence of the wide gaps in the system.
Since World War II, when military veterans returned to civilian life without diplomas, high-school dropouts have been offered an alternative credential – the General Educational Development, or GED degree. But it’s never been regarded as a substitute for completing high school. The US military, for example, rejects nearly all enlistment applicants who’ve dropped out of high school, including GED holders.
So in 2014 the GED examination is getting a serious upgrade.
The private company which runs the tests says it will be more closely attuned to the practical knowledge required by employers.
And for the first time, the exam may only be taken by computer, which in itself poses a challenge to many low-skilled test takers who are well into middle age.