Students say replacement for GED test much more difficult
CHARLESTON, WV - About 20 percent of high school students fail to graduate in West Virginia and making up for those diplomas may now be a little harder. The WV Department of Education changed over to a new high school equivalency exam last year, replacing the GED with the newer Test Assessing Secondary Completion, or TASC, exam.
Thirty-three years later, Steve Higginbotham is back in class working to get his high school diploma. But studying for the high school equivalency test is much harder than he anticipated.
"The math is incredible. I mean we are doing things now here that we didn't even do when I was in high school,” said Higginbotham, a St. Albans resident.
Students say the transition from the old GED to the newer test has been extremely challenging. TASC is aligned with common core standards and requires a deeper understanding of all concepts, but especially math and science.
"We have students that are apprehensive,” said Leslie Humphreys, an instructor at the Garnet Career Center.
"There have been a couple people who have done that since we started, they came for a couple classes and never came back,” said Higginbotham.
Instructors at the Garnet Career Center in Charleston say it takes up to six months longer for students to prepare for the TASC compared to the old GED. Many times people are discouraged just looking at the exam.
"We try to prepare them not just educationally but emotionally as well, because they are going to see things that are strange to them,” said Humphreys.
TASC tests everything, from trigonometry to chemistry. Instructors say students should be prepared to put in more hours and sometimes have to learn how to become a better educated guesser.
"Get in and get started and get it done, because it's like everything,” said Humphreys. “The longer you are away from it, the less you remember.”
Despite all the difficulties students who've successfully passed say it's worth the sacrifice.
"Even when you feel like you can't do it, you can do it, just don't give up,” said Paula Landers, who recently passed her exam and is preparing to graduate.