VOL. 127 | NO. 55 | Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Cost of GED Diploma Going Up
By Bill Dries
The good news is the General Educational Development test to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma is moving online. The bad news is the cost of taking the test is expected to go up to $125 starting in 2014.
No testing center in the state can charge more than $65 for the test currently, and the state is prohibited from providing funding to pay for taking the test.
“We imagine it will be a significant barrier to a number of individuals,” said Karla Davis, Tennessee commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, during a visit to Memphis last week. “Right now even the cost of the test can be difficult for some people to come up with. … We’re looking at ways to alleviate that strain – maybe some alternatives to taking the test in the state of Tennessee.”
In 2011, 1,200 Tennesseans earned their general equivalency diploma by taking the GED test. And Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has continued the emphasis of former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration put on convincing citizens that more than a high school diploma is needed for the manufacturing jobs that have become the state’s most visible economic development target.
Both governors have also said the state’s education system should have as its goal not just college enrollment but completion of some kind of college degree.
When the GED test goes online, it will also become more difficult to reflect the state’s recently raised standards for high school graduation and achievement.
Davis noted that the state’s unemployment rate for adults without a high school diploma or GED is more than 20 percent.
The state’s overall unemployment rate improved in January to 8.2 percent, dropping below the national average.
“The (state) unemployment rate has been dropping continually over the last year,” Davis said. “We can only hope it will continue to drop and more jobs will continue to be created.”
One concern is the veterans of the war in Iraq returning to the civilian workforce in larger numbers with the end of that war at the end of 2011.
For many, the time in Iraq has left a sizeable gap in their resumes from multiple deployments there and to Afghanistan.
“They have difficulty in matching their service and their activities with civilian jobs,” Davis said. “We’re doing a lot of work with our veterans to make sure we can build their resume – building on their service for a resume that will speak to an employer. That’s really important to us.”