Crowder educators recall introduction of HiSET

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

State makes change from GED to lower testing costs

Crowder College educators are discussing the effects of Missouri's move to the HiSET for all high school equivalency tests in January 2014, as the cost of each GED exam increased by $100.

"I was just very proud of our staff at [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education]," said Juli DeNisco, director of the Adult Education and Literacy program at Crowder College. "They were just not going to take it. They wanted a better product and a better price. They wanted to try to resist that monopoly."

Before 2014, GED charged $40 for its high equivalency exams, testing each adult education student on language arts reading, language arts writing, science, social studies and mathematics. The GED is now $140.

By 2017, the state requires each adult education program to be aligned with the new adult education college and career readiness standards, DeNisco said. However, GED wanted each program to align with those standards in 2014.

"I know in some of the states that they are using GED, they are really struggling because they just didn't have enough time to prepare the teachers in what the students are facing," she said. "They were the only company out there that had a high school equivalency product, so they thought everybody would just have to do what they said, that we just have to take it, and that was how it was going to be, and it did not end up like that for them at all.

"I am thankful because that shouldn't be with a for-profit company. Now, a HiSET test is a non-profit company. They don't mix profits. They just cover their costs."

Every person who wants to take the HiSET test pays $95, which includes a $60 registration fee for the cost of the test and $7 for each of the five test sections to cover the costs of administering the test, according to a DESE release. Because examinees do not have to complete the entire test at one time, they can take the test in sections. The $60 registration fee will allow people to test three times during a 12-month period. Examinees who do not pass the test the first time can retake the entire test or any of the test sections two more times within the 12-month period by paying an additional $7-per-section fee.

The Educational Testing Service, which oversees the HiSET, did not have a high school equivalency test before the American Council on Education and Pearson VUE enhanced the GED in March 2011.

McGraw-Hill, ETS and Pearson VUE placed bids to offer high school equivalency exams, said Sarah Potter, communications coordinator with DESE.

DESE accepted the bid from ETS because the company was going to take steps to make HiSET a better product, DeNisco said. Students had to complete the GED test before Jan. 1, otherwise, they had to start the preparation period all over again with the HiSET.

Crowder offers free HiSET preparation classes over the five subjects similar to GED at the Adult Education and Literacy enters in Barry, Lawrence, McDonald and Newton counties. Those locations include the Cassville campus, at 4020 N. Main St., the Seligman Library, at 29144 Main St., and the Shell Knob School, at 24400 Highway 39.

If students want to sign up for the free classes, they need to commit to 40 hours, DeNisco said.

"If they can't do 40 hours, then they can maybe try it on their own," she said. "We have to be accountable for them once they sign up. We need to pre-test them. We need to post-test them.

"We are required to report all of that to the government. We're accountable to making the levels increase. They want to see that we are improving their abilities."

Anne Collier, an adult education and literacy teacher at the Cassville campus, said her students like that the HiSET is a computer-based test.

Before Jan. 1, GED only offered adult education students in Missouri the option of taking each test by paper and pencil.

Crowder provides all of the books in the classroom, it provides the students with notebooks, paper and pencils, Collier said. Students take a pretest on the subjects covered in the HiSET. They then take a post-test in their lowest subject after they complete their classwork.

DeNisco said she authorized $5,000 for a computer-based preparation test, which allowed up to 25 students to access the program across 16 locations.

The area adult education students can take the HiSET test at Crowder College in Neosho, Ozark Technical Community College in Springfield, Carthage Technical Center or Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.

For more information about the HiSET classes at Cassville campus, people may contact Collier or another Adult Education and Literacy instructor at 417-847-1706. For more information about the HiSET classes in Seligman and Shell Knob, contact the Adult Education and Literacy office in Neosho at 417-455-5521. People can also get a schedule of classes at crowder.edu/services/high-school-equivalency/ael.

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