- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - State data shows fewer people are taking and passing a computer-based GED exam in Texas, which critics call too expensive and say wrongly focuses more on college readiness than preparing for jobs.

People are charged $135 apiece to take the computerized, high school-degree equivalency test that Texas introduced last year, the Austin American-Statesman (http://atxne.ws/1e0K0bQ ) reported.

Multiple states have stopped using the revised GED in favor of other high school equivalency tests. There are three equivalency tests available, but Texas only uses the GED exam. Educators and adult education advocates want the State Board of Education to offer a choice of exams and also to provide them in a paper-and-pencil format.

The board is expected to vote Friday on a proposal addressing the matter, likely directing the Texas Education Agency to seek a new test provider or providers.

Elizabeth Luna, a Tarrant County mother who dropped out of school in the seventh grade, said that the $135 fee forces her to “choose between the things I need right now and my dreams for a better life.” She said she works full time while raising her children.

In 2013, the last year under the previous exam, around 74.5 percent of the 62,426 test takers in Texas passed and earned a high school equivalency certificate. Under the new format, 28,020 test takers passed and earned a certificate last year. Data shows that only 51.5 percent of those taking the computer test are passing it.

Advocates for adult education students say that the new exam requires test takers to type 25 words a minute. They say it’s a stumbling block for those who haven’t taken a typing course or who didn’t grow up with a computer.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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