- Associated Press - Sunday, January 31, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - The company that runs the high-school equivalency exam has dropped the passing score by five points, from 150 to 145. GED Testing Service recommends that states make that change retroactive to January 2014, when it introduced a tougher test.

The small change will make a big difference, said Julia Houston, director of adult education at Itawamba County College.

“The majority of people fall within two points of that 150, so five points is a really big deal in our world,” she told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/1VzLCcO ). “It was taking students so long to pass that GED. It’s going to help a lot of people.”

Mississippi has adopted the new standard. Louisiana is not on the state-by-state list posted online Tuesday by the testing service, which said it’s working with states that were not able to make the changes immediately.

Houston said that after 2013, the number of Itawamba students earning GEDs fell from nearly 400 to about 80 a year.

“That lets you know how rigorous the test is, which is a good thing,” Houston said. “It has to be a credible test, but it doesn’t need to be so hard that no one passes it.”

Houston also said the pass score of 150 was especially troubling for test-takers who needed the GED to get a job rather than planning to go to college.

For students who do plan to go on to college, the testing service announced two new performance levels: one to show that a student is ready for college, and a second which it said could qualify students for up to 10 hours of college credit.

“The scoring enhancement is driven by a detailed analysis of educational outcomes of GED program graduates compared to high school graduates over the past 18 months,” the announcement said.

Pam Meeks, director of adult basic education and GED testing at Northeast Mississippi Community College, said she hopes the new passing score will get people back in NEMCC’s GED prep courses and that they can spend less time taking practice tests and move ahead to the real thing.

Most “failing” students she had worked with had scored around 146 or 147, she said.

___

Online:

Announcement: http://bit.ly/201uXQC

State-by-state list: http://www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/state-score-change-info

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