Federal changes to the General Education Development (GED) test that went into effect on January 1 have teachers working to create new lesson plans. This is the first reform to the GED test since 2002.
The new test is reportedly more rigorous, but teachers in Charlottesville say they're up for the challenge. Classes are set to start next week, and with several major changes - including a switch from paper and pencil to computerized tests - teachers are busy putting the finishing touches on a brand new curriculum.
"There's more reading, there's more writing, which are, I think, good changes, and then there's more algebra, which I love," said Timmins.
Instructors are revamping their curriculum for what will be a very different exam. It will focus on critical thinking skills that are important in college and the workplace. Teachers are responding with a lesson plan that lets students tackle the exam, one subject at a time.
"Now with our class we have one teacher that's only teaching math, and so those students will be with her until they finish the math test and then they'll move," said Timmins.
But this time around, test makers say it will be harder, putting more responsibility than ever on instructors.
"The implications of more rigorous content is that people will have to be better prepared before they come to take the test," said Susan Erno, regional program manager.
One career coordinator says the increased difficulty is meant to make sure people are prepared for the next step.
"They want the test to be more indicative of what the employers want out there in the working world," said Jaundiego Wade, adult and career education center coordinator.
The new test also includes a report that shows a student just where they went wrong. Timmins says this is invaluable for her and her students.
"I think that having a diagnostic is a great way to target just what those students are missing," said Timmins.
Instructors say they expect to see an initial drop-off in applicants due to the increased difficulty, but they also say the added diagnostic will help them teach better, and they hope to see more people pass.
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