2014 Review: HSE at the State Level

February 9, 2015 thetasctest

2014 Review: HSEs at the State Level 

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.

If you’ve kept up with the latest 2014 HSE statistics and developments, you know that last year showed a dramatic shift in high school equivalency (HSE) trends. The national statistics reflect a major decrease in those passing the GED® test.

At the national level, GED trends are:

  • 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 trends can also be compared to the statistics from test takers (and passers) of the new HSE options, the HiSET® and the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™, as reported by Cleveland Scene and Inside Higher Ed:  

  • 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)

Many national news sources reported on individual states, including PBS which wrote that in Florida, the number of test takers fell by about half (from 2013 to 2014).

The weekly Cleveland Scene magazine, which originally broke the news regarding these dramatic drops in test takers, reported that in Ohio “16,092 passed the test in 2012, and 19,976 did so in 2013, but only 1,458 have passed so far this year.” They also reported that rates were similar in other states, including Texas, which had a drop off rate of about 86 percent, and Michigan, which had a rate of 88 percent.

Additionally, Inside Higher Ed noted that the “media in states such as Wisconsin and Rhode Island reported a more than 90 percent drop in the number of adults earning the [high school equivalency through the GED test].”

These statistics were supported at the state level, where local papers reported similar figures. For instance, Rhode Island’s local news Channel 12 WPRI reported that a “total of 200 Rhode Island students had earned their [high school equivalency] in 2014 as of Dec. 8, according to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). That’s a 92 percent decline from 2013, when 2,363 local students earned their high school equivalency certificate.” The news station called this a massive decline that mirrored a national trend.

Georgia, too, adds their own GED statistics: “As of Nov. 31, 5,340 people had completed the test and 2,270 had passed, a 51 percent pass rate. For the 2013 calendar year, 28,732 people completed the previous test and 22,178 passed, or about 77 percent.”

There is much concern about these dramatic drops. We agree that these local statistics do mirror the national trend, though the national drop off was higher than some states at 90 percent drop off from 2013. Many of these news sources, at both the national and state level, believe that these drops were an effect of a variety of factors.

These factors include changes in the GED curriculum, computer-only testing for the GED test, and the fact that the GED test is no longer the only option for students who wish to earn their high school equivalency (just to name a few). Before 2014, the GED test was the only HSE test available. However, the TASC test has allowed students to decide how they want to take the test – and, students have realized that there are many pros and cons to these other options. 

It is also worth noting that many students scrambled to complete their GED test before the changes were rolled out in 2014, because they would have been forced to retake subtests that they had already passed. So, though these drops may seem dire, Jeff Wales of the Nevada Department of Education, in a discussion with NPR, adds that his state saw “low numbers of test takers [in 2014] across all tests. The year was a lot of transition—from test centers, school districts and test takers.” Nevada was one of the few states in the US that offered all three HSE options to students.

However, for states that offered only the TASC test, many students saw success. There may be fewer students earning their HSE right now. But, it seems evident that those who do want their high school equivalencies are more likely to want to earn it through the TASC test than the GED test. 

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