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Patriot's Perspective: Adult Basic Education leads to GED degree

At the start of a new calendar year it is often the time for making a resolution related to a life change.

Earning a GED — General Education Development diploma — could be one of the most important life changes you could make if you do not have your high school diploma. The GED is considered to be equivalent to a high school diploma for many uses: military entrance, admission to a college or employment eligibility. The 2013 calendar year is going to be a significant one for GED completion.

The Minnesota Department of Education, Adult Basic Education (ABE) program will be changing from a paper and pencil test to a computer based testing process for the GED starting Jan. 1, 2014. There is a one-year long window of opportunity for people who have started working on their GED to finish.

All five sections of the current GED test must be completed with a passing score before the end of 2013 to earn a GED under the current requirements. Partially completed GED tests will become invalid with the 2014 GED test release.

Starting in 2014 the GED test will also become more rigorous and costly. The math portion of the test, for example, will be comparable to the MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) score required for regular high school students to complete before graduation.

There are five sections to the GED test: Math, Reading, Writing, Social Studies and Science. An adult learner must pass all five parts of the test to earn a GED diploma. Taking the test can be done one or two sections at a time or by taking all five sections. There is a fee to take the GED and it can only be taken at a GED Test Center.

The local Pequot Lakes ABE program meets one evening a week. Adult learners are given instruction in the areas where they need to boost their skills in order to pass the GED test. The ABE teacher is a licensed Minnesota teacher.

Adult learners are given a pre-test to determine what they need to focus on for their learning skills. Once the pre-test is completed the teacher begins to work on an individualized educational plan.

Motivated learners can do work outside of class and set their own pace for completing their learning. Periodically the learners will check their level of learning with post-tests or practice tests for the GED. Once the score is in line to pass the GED, the adult learner is ready to sign up for the test.

ABE is free program investing in adult learners to assist them in gaining the skills needed to succeed in today’s world. ABE can also provide basic skills enhancement classes for learners who need goal-specific, work-related basic skills such as math, reading and computer literacy.

This service is not focused on earning a diploma or preparation for the GED. The computer skills need to focus on skills needed for employment. The work skills learners need to have a referral to ABE from the local Work Force Center.

The mission of ABE in Minnesota is to provide adults with education opportunities to acquire and improve skills necessary for participation as productive workers and members of their family and community.

Now is the time for ABE learners to work hard and complete the test before the testing requirements change in 2014. Call Pequot Lakes ABE at 218-568-9200 to get started on your path to getting the GED.

(Julie Despot is Community Education director for the Pequot Lakes School District.)