By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A new exam will soon replace the one that now leads to a High School Equivalency Diploma.
Cathy Snow, supervisor of CV-TEC’s Literacy, High School Equivalency Diploma and Job Skills Training programs, said starting on Jan. 2, 2014, the General Education Development test will be replaced by an exam called the Test Assessing Secondary Completion.
The new test will then be the only free, state-subsidized assessment leading to a High School Equivalency Diploma from the State Department of Education.
Snow said they are urging anyone who can take the present test to do so while they still can. Those who have passed parts of the General Education Development tests since 2012 only have to take the parts they didn’t pass to earn their diploma, but that will end with the advent of the new testing, she said.
“Even if they only need one section, those other scores will be gone.”
The change came as a result of a Request for Proposals issued by the State Education Department in November 2012. The proposals were evaluated and rated by a panel of three psychometricians and three experts in higher education.
The winning proposal was from CTB/McGraw Hill.
The test will be available in English, Spanish, braille and audio versions. The five sub-test sections are English Language Arts Reading, English Language Arts Writing, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.
The test is to be aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by the State Board of Regents in 2011, during the next three years. Snow said new parts will be added to the exam each year to achieve that goal.
Presently, the test questions are in a multiple-choice format, with an opinion-based essay, she said. That will change to more rigorous exams that will include constructed-response answers and technology enhanced items.
The new test will initially be available in both paper-based and computer-based formats. CTB/McGraw Hill is expected to offer 20 percent of the tests on computer next year, 40 percent in 2015 and 60 percent in 2016.
Snow said students will need to develop their computer skills.
“We’re introducing a lot of computer literacy classes for our students starting in September,” she said. “That way, they’ll be comfortable taking the (computer format) tests.”
CV-TEC offers the tests to about 700 people a year. A High School Equivalency Diploma is extremely important for those looking for employment, she said.
“This is affecting a lot of people,” she said.
CV-TEC will be able to use a lot of its present supplies the first year but will have to invest in new materials as the new standards and tests are implemented. Snow said they have been able to write a significant number of grants to offset some of the expected costs for conversion.
‘READY TO GO’
The State Education Department presently supports about 270 test centers statewide, including school districts, boards of cooperative educational services, community-based organizations, educational opportunity centers, Office of Children and Family Services facilities, community colleges, correctional facilities, county jails and private residential facilities.
The Education Department plans to continue to supervise and administer test centers, as well as confirm the centers will provide the new tests.
The State Education Department is expected to offer training for the new tests sometime this fall. It will be important for educators to be ready to prepare students for the new tests, Snow said.
“We’re up for the challenge. We’re ready to go.”
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