PARKERSBURG - Changes are coming to West Virginia's GED testing program and an area testing administrator wants to make sure current and prospective students are aware of them.
Bruce Goody has served as GED test administrator for 22 years. He worked for about 30 years in the Wood County School System.
Starting Jan. 1, the new test, aligned with the West Virginia's Next Generation Content Standard and Objectives, goes into effect. Goody is concerned students who fail to complete testing before the changeover will have to start over. There are five parts to the GED, students who fail to complete the test before the changeover will lose all their scores, including passing scores.
"We don't want to put them where they have to start over," he said.
The median age of GED students are in their mid-20s, Goody said. More often than not these are students juggling classes and testing with jobs and single parenting.
"It's a different set of challenges for them. It takes a lot to pull yourself up and get back at it," he said.
Goody wants those with pending tests to complete the GED requirements before the changes kick in and they have to start over.
GED classes in the area average between 290-320 people each year. Students are drawn primarily from Wood and Ritchie counties, but also include residents from Pleasants, Wirt, Jackson and Roane counties.
Goody said the passing rate for the county site has traditionally been above 78 percent for first-time testers. He noted West Virginia University at Parkersburg provided 18 scholarships for the GED graduates.
"Students who drop out of school do not do so because they lack intelligence," he said.
The new tests will also abandon pencil-and-paper testing in favor of computerized tests, which can be intimidating to older students.
"Computers aren't a problem for young people," he said. "People in their 40s, 50s and 60s are scared. More like me; they can't program a television remote."
Goody said the switch to computer testing provides instant availability of scores as soon as testing is completed. Students can also take each test six times in a calendar year, as opposed to the three times permitted under the pencil-and-paper format.
In preparation for the changeover Wood County Schools stated offering computerized testing. Beginning this month, all testing for first-time test takers is being done on computer.
Anyone interested in beginning or completing the GED testing program should contact the Adult Basic Education Center at 304-420-9508. The classes to prep classes, and the GED test are provided free of charge. Day and evening classes are available.