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Educators eye GED test changes
Chelsea Handley has not had the usual education experience.

The 18-year-old was withdrawn from school during her elementary days by her parents and was given little in the way of home schooling during the rest of her childhood, she said.

Luckily she has another option to earn a high school diploma.

Handley is preparing for her final step toward passing the math portion of the five-part GED test. She is taking classes through Altamaha Technical College's Academic Support Center and hopes to complete her final exam before the GED goes through some major changes in January 2014.

"This will be like my high school graduation," she said.

If she is unable to pass her final test in the next year, Handley may not be properly prepared for the new test, which Altamaha Tech Dean of Adult Education Sandra Williams said will likely be more difficult.

"It is going to be quite different than what it was," Williams said. "There will be a lot more critical thinking skills involved."

The new set of GED tests will be aligned with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, the state's version of the Common Core Curriculum adopted by more than 40 other states and the District of Columbia this year for public K-12 education.

Currently, GED tests have a lot of reading comprehension in which students read a passage and answer multiple choice questions about it. The new test will require more knowledge of each subject and will ask test takers to provide written responses and even to turn in some essays.

"It is really going to change our teaching style too," Williams said. "This will require a lot more teacher-led instruction."

As it is now, the adult education program already provides teacher-led learning. But because students are at different places in their classes, much of it is also done on computers.

Many of the changes will add components to the test that assess the college and career readiness of the test takers, Williams said.

"The new test will hold more validity," Williams said. "That is a good thing."

Jonathan Newsome said he is happy he will finish his GED testing before the changes. But, with a baby on the way and a possible new job on the horizon, the 21-year-old said he would be taking the exams regardless of any changes.

"I am tired of working a few little jobs to get by," Newsome said.

Anything that adds to the validity of the GED is a good change, he added.

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