Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

Despite Modest Increase, GED Test-Taking Still Hovering Near All-Time Low

Given recent statistics that indicate that at least half of all Black and Hispanic high school students dropped out this year, the General Educational Development test, or GED, remains a critical second option. However, since 2002, when the test was revamped to address complaints that GED-holders lacked basic writing skills, the number of test-takers has fallen drastically, from 800,000 before 2002 to 665,927 in 2004.

However, a report issued by the GED Testing Service today entitled, “Who Passed the GED Tests? 2005 Statistical Report,” shows a modest 2.2 percent increase in the number of GED test-takers for 2005, to 680,874. Also, the total number of GED candidates who passed the test rose 4.4 percent to 423,714 from 405,724 in 2004.

All of this is good news for GED Testing Service Executive Director Sylvia E. Robinson who, after assuming her post in April, has been charged with boosting sagging GED test-taking numbers while steering the GED toward another redesign, scheduled for 2011. She says, however, that the GED has a long way to go.

“We were pleased that the numbers were positive in terms of they were moving in an upward direction, but with [the current Black and Hispanic dropout rate], having a marginal increase, that’s not very significant. We really would like to see that go up in coming years,” Robinson says.

According to the report, 52.6 percent of the world’s GED candidates in 2005 were White, 23.4 percent where Black and 19.2 percent were of Hispanic origin. Of the test-takers who passed that year, 61.4 percent were White, 18 percent were Black and 16.2 percent were Hispanic.

According to Robinson, some minorities have cited the lengthy test times, feelings of underpreparedness and the cost as reasons why they chose not to sit for the GED. Additionally, she says many young minorities must juggle a host of family issues, which hinders them from taking the test.

“These young people are frankly taking on more family responsibilities early on. I think that is, for better or worse, something you see more often in minority communities,” she says. “Clearly, these are some young people who are having incidences of early parenthood, and therefore they aren’t in a position to just say, ‘I’m going to go to school and do the preparation course,’ without saying, ‘I’ve got to work or I’ve got to get a babysitter.’”

In 2007, the GED testing service expects to kick off a major marketing campaign to highlight the test’s benefits and availability.

“We have to take some responsibility for not being more effective with our marketing and outreach,” Robinson says. “Obviously, we’re not going to penetrate 100 percent of the market, but we need to be creative and think about better strategies for getting the word out and being visible to potential test-takers.”

–David Pluviose

© Copyright 2005 by

A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics
American sport has always served as a platform for resistance and has been measured and critiqued by how it responds in critical moments of racial and social crises.
Read More
A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics