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Value of the GED

by KYW’s Dr. Marciene Mattleman

In 1942, the General Educational Development exam, the GED, was devised to measure high school-level academic skills of World War II veterans who entered the service before completing high school.

Today, the five tests comprising the GED, language arts/writing, reading, social studies, science and math serve more than a half million people annually with a growing number of high school dropouts. They’re available in Spanish, French, large print, audiocassette and Braille.

A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, reported in Education Week, suggests that the availability and low cost of the GED may be inducing more students to drop out.

Most find that passing the exam doesn’t help them find better jobs or complete post secondary education. The report comments that treating the credential as a high school degree “distorts social statistics and gives false signals that America is making progress when it is not.”

Rather than the GED, special high school programs for adults can be found in many US cities, providing flexible opportunities for graduation with a better chance for entering the workforce.