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Heather Dragon: GED changes dim teens’ future prospects

To the editor:

The new General Educational Development (GED) test will hurt the future of our teenagers.

Ever had the wind knocked out of you before you have the chance to score the winning goal? This gut-wrenching feeling will sweep through our teenagers come Jan. 2, 2014, when, for some who haven’t finished all sections of their GED, previous passing GED scores may expire. This could mean all their hard work comes crumbling to the ground like a building being demolished.

An estimated 24 percent of GED test takers in Massachusetts are 16 to 18 years old, all reaching out to better themselves and their futures. So here’s an idea, let’s raise the testing fees, really motivate our teenagers to pursue higher education and a better career. Great idea, right? Wrong. Placing higher fees on this test is discouraging many that have difficulties affording the initial testing fee of $65.

Some 35 percent of these teenagers do not pass the exam on their first attempt, costing them an additional $15 for each subject area they must re-take. What good will raising the testing fee really do?

The new fee is to help cover costs of a fully computerized test. At least that’s the argument behind the spike in fees. However, 60 percent of test facilities in 2010 already had computer systems readily available for the 2014 test. Computer-based testing may seem great in this day and age, but did anyone stop to think that many of our teenagers may not have regular access to a computer, and may lack the skills needed to be fully serviced by this new test?

In the 2011-2012 Massachusetts school years, 7,051 students dropped out of high school. We need to continue to help our young men and women on a path to success, and changing the GED will only hurt.

Heather Dragon


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