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Programs address options after GED changes in 2014
If you are interested in a GED tutoring program through the Colusa County Literacy Program at the county library, call Nancy Salm at 458-0373.
Employers expect workers to be able to think critically, have better than adequate math skills and to be able to work on a computer.
They also expect applicants to have a high school diploma — or what has always been viewed as an administrative equivalent — a general educational development certificate.
"Most employers require a high school diploma or GED, therefore it is crucial for job seekers to have a high school diploma or GED," said Gabriel Rojas, who runs the GED preparation program at the Colusa County One-Stop.
"In addition to the employers, most of the training providers we work with require a high school diploma, GED, or a certain level in reading, writing and math — usually at the GED level."
But just as the high school standards have recently been raised, the GED program is also changing to remain and equivalent standard.
One of their biggest concerns are for those who have already successfully taken parts of the GED exam, but have not finished all the elements.
If the full exam is not completed by the end of the year, then those individuals will lose credit for what they did pass.
Dawn Gonzales is a caseworker with California Tribal TANF Partnershp, which helps Native American families in need.
She said for some individuals, the prospect of taking the test is daunting already, and the Native American population is already on the outside looking in.
"Seventy percent of Native Americans (in the nation) do not graduate from high school," Gonzales said.
"Statistically, they have the highest dropout rate ... and they are over-represented in (Child Protective Services), in mentatl health, whatever," she said.
And a lot of that has to do with the lack of an education.
"For one thing, it is intimidating. For a lot of my partiipants, they are afraid of taking the test and failing anyway, and the new test is supposed to be even harder," she said.
One of her clients, she said, has all but the math element of the current test completed.
Math, however, is particularly difficult for this person — and it is not an issue of not working at it. She has a learning disability specific to the chore, Gonzales said.
She is concerned what will happen to the individual if the match element is not completed and all the previous accomplishment is lost.
The good news for her program is it has a volunteer tutor on board for weekly classes. "We have always encouraged it, but now that we have Rob Wilson here, we tell them that you need to be here. ... Having a tutor here has allowed us to make it mandatOry. You have to be here," she said.
"We are still in the beginning stages, but by next week or the week after next, we should be having weekly sessions," Gonzales said.
The One-Stop has a free training program in both English and Spanish, and the Colusa County Adult Literacy Program is looking to establish a program.
Nancy Salm, who runs the literacy program, said if there is enough of a response looking for tutoring help, the program will establish a weekly program with a drop-in tutor at the library. The materials will be free.
"The thing about GED is it is so individualized," Salm said. Some students may need to prepare for the entire test, others for just a portion of it.
The program would allow students to work on those specific areas and then take sample tests to determine how well they are prepared.
That can be designed to finish up testing under the current standards, or to prepare for the new one.
The actual tests have to be taken at an authorized center, which for Colusa County means in Willows. And even that means changes.
"The new test will unveil a new way of taking the exam," said Jess Modesto, chief examiner of the Glenn Adult Program testing center at the Glenn County Office of Education. "Currently, GED tests are taken with paper and pencil, but they will soon be computer-based and administered online."
The new test will cover more content in social studies, science, mathematics and literacy, driven largely by the shift to the new Common Core standards in education.
"The new GED test will better measure a person's preparedness for entering the workforce," Modesto said.
The Glenn County GED testing center is only among a handful in Northern California, and serves mostly students in Glenn, Colusa, Tehama and western Butte counties.
Although Modesto said he doesn't expect the new test to be particularly harder than the current test, it may be a challenge to older adults who aren't as computer savvy as their younger counterparts who have grown up with technology.
One of the particular components that is expected to be more rigorous, however, is the critical analysis portion of the test, which would require students to read a portion and provide more detailed reasoning and comparisons.
It's the same challenge all students and educators will face in the shift to Common Core standards.
"Change is never easy," Modesto said. "Change is hard."
Costs associated with the new delivery of GED tests have not yet been determined, he said. The current battery of tests cost the adult student $175.
Rojas does not think the new testing standards will have a major impact on that process or the One-Stop program.
"We don't foresee the changes affecting those looking for work, since we will have the materials for the 2014 version in September, and at that time, students who don't feel like they will be able to take their test before the end of the year, can start preparing for the new version," Gonzales said. "There is also still plenty of time for current students to be able to prepare and take the current ... version."