Alternative Pathways to High School Equivalency

//Alternative Pathways to High School Equivalency
Chandra Villanueva

A high school diploma is a foundational step toward self-sufficiency and economic stability for all Texans. For those who are unable to complete their high school education, high school equivalency exams offer an alternative path to college and career.

In 2012, Texas ranked 50th in the country for its high rate of adults age 18 to 64 who lack a high school diploma or equivalent. Over 2.8 million Texans or 17.4 percent of the state’s residents lack this important credential, yet Texas only awards, on average, 32,000 Texas Certificates of High School Equivalency a year.

The General Education Development (GED) test©, developed by the American Council on Education and administered by Pearson, is the most commonly known equivalency exam. It is one of three tests available to test high school equivalency, and the only one currently used in Texas.

Recent changes to the price, rigor, and moving to a computer based format of the GED test led some states to re-evaluate which equivalency exam best meets their workforce and academic needs. That conversation is now moving to Texas. This week the Texas State Board of Education is hearing public testimony on expanding the high school equivalency exam contract to multiple vendors.

Since the GED test changes, the number of test-takers has dropped by seven percent from 2012 to 2014. The pass rate for all test-takers dropped from 59 percent to 56 percent. However, when you exclude incarcerated Texans, who continue to use the paper-based test, the pass rate in 2014 drops down to only 30 percent.

GED Equivalency

CPPP supports making all three high school equivalency exams available in order to provide choice and affordability to adult education service centers and test-takers. However, it is going to take much more than additional test options to tackle the unacceptably high number of adults without a high school diploma or equivalent.

For more information on the concerns around the GED test changes, the need for high school equivalency in Texas, and the available alternative, see our policy page Alternative Paths to High School Equivalency.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

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