W.Va. urges people to take GED before test changes

October 9, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The state Department of Education is urging more than 13,000 West Virginians to complete their GED before the test changes.

On Jan. 2, 2014, an electronic version of the high school diploma equivalency test will debut. The new version’s content will align with the national Common Core standards.

People who have not completed the existing GED by Dec. 31 will have to start over, West Virginia head GED administrator Debra Kimbler told the Charleston Gazette.

Another change is the cost.

West Virginia is one of only four states that offers the $50 test for free. The Legislature voted in 2008 to provide state funding for GED vouchers to cover the cost, Kimbler said.

The state funding is not enough to cover the $120 cost of the new electronic GED, Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said.

“In addition to the current form of the GED test expiring, there were some financial concerns because the cost of the test was going to go up, and it was unknown if the state could continue to pick up the bill,” Cordeiro told the newspaper. “At this point, there are solutions in progress, including re-bidding the test to another vendor that would not cost additional monies, and therefore current allocated state monies could cover the costs.”

Cordeiro said the test will remain free for West Virginians until at least the end of the year.

“Having the GED paid for … it’s made a huge difference. We didn’t have free GED testing when I first took the job as an examiner, and I went from testing once a month to testing every week,” Kimbler said. “This is literally a life-changing event for the students, because it opens doors of opportunities that were once closed, and we hope the Legislature will continue that.”

She said about 4,000 people in West Virginia received their GED. The passing rate was 76 percent, compared to 69 percent nationally.