2014 HSE Statistics: Cleveland Scene Breaks News

February 6, 2015 thetasctest

2014 HSE Statistics: Cleveland Scene Breaks News

Editorial note: Statistics in this article from Cleveland Scene and Inside Higher Ed were reported, by the publishers, to be accurate at the time of the respective sources’ publication. The reported numbers do not reflect current statistics.

On December 17, 2014, Daniel McGraw of Cleveland Scene published the article “Nearly 500,000 Fewer Americans Will Pass the GED in 2014 After a Major Overhaul to the Test. Why? And Who’s Left Behind?” The article was the first to break the news regarding the significant drop in GED® test takers, and those who were able to successfully earn their high school equivalency (HSE) through this testing program. Since Daniel McGraw’s article was published, more and more news sources have been buzzing about the startling statistics from 2014.

At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we’ve monitored the news and considered how the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ compares to the GED testing trends. Find our thorough summary of the Cleveland Scene article here, and the latest statistics for all three high school equivalency exams – including the TASC test.

The Cleveland Scene 

Daniel McGraw begins by examining Derwin Williams’ personal experience with the GED test. Williams is a 29-year-old Cleveland resident, who hopes to complete the GED test so that he can begin taking vocational technical classes. However, Daniel McGraw points out that Williams has been preparing for the high school equivalency test for 11 months – and still isn’t ready because of the radical changes made to the GED test in the last year. He notes that according to some sample tests Williams has taken, “he’s getting close in the math and science portions, but is still pretty far out in the social science and language parts.”

Unfortunately, this experience is incredibly typical for those who were studying for the GED test in 2014. Before GED made changes, the average student needed only about six months of studying (at three to six hours per week) to pass the subtests and earn their high school equivalency.

However, the changes made in 2014 – which aligned the high school equivalency with the Common Core standards and, in the case of GED, required online testing – has dramatically impacted the passing rates for GED test takers.

McGraw reports the following annual statistics:

  • 2012: 401,388 people earned a high school equivalency through the GED test
  • 2013: 540,000 people earned a high school equivalency through the GED test
  • 2014: 55,000 people earned a high school equivalency through the GED test

These numbers reflect a 90 percent drop off from last year. Daniel McGraw asks readers to think about this drop alongside of the recent national push for more adult education programs and the higher expectations for our competitive job market. In this light, the GED test hasn’t only become more difficult – it’s impacted the success of adult learners, who only want to improve themselves.

 More Important Statistics 

The leaders at GED, and Daniel McGraw himself, point out that one important factor influencing the 2014 statistics is that “hardly anyone is taking it this year.” So many people took the test in 2013 before the new changes were rolled out.

But what about the other tests? Part of the reason the GED test is suffering is due to the fact that test takers now have more options. You probably already know that two new high school equivalency exams were offered, for the first time, in 2014: the TASC test and the Educational Testing Service’s HiSET®.

According to Kaitlin Mulhere of Inside Higher Ed, “the GED no longer has a monopoly on high school equivalency exams.” Mulhere reported that:

  • The HiSET had about 50,000 test-takers
  • Between 30,000 and 35,000 of those test takers passed

The test was only offered in 12 states, but these statistics reflect a competitive edge against the GED test.

In terms of the TASC test, we had almost 40,000 people take the TASC test last year – in only six states, with some joining late in the year and others still making their decisions.

These numbers are impressive when you consider that some of the states offering either the TASC test or the HiSET also offer the GED test – and the other 29 states that don’t offer these options only offer the GED test. In other words, according to Inside Higher Ed and Cleveland Scene:

  • 55,000 people passed the GED test in 40 states
  • 30-35,000 people passed the HiSET in 12 states
  • More than 40,000 people took the TASC test in six states (reported by McGraw-Hill Education CTB)

It’s easy to see that we are giving the GED test a run for its money. Considering how wide the margin is in terms of how many states offer these alternative options, GED should be performing at much higher levels than the other tests.

But the TASC test is competitive – and 2015 offers a new opportunity to see if McGraw’s points stick, and how the HSE trends continue to develop. 

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