News and Speeches

Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announce Pilot Program to Modernize the General Educational Development Test to Better Prepare Students for College and Careers

12/09/2010

Three Million Dollar Grant from MetLife Foundation will help Develop Best Practices from Accelerated Learning Programs to Inform National Implementation of Enhanced Exam

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, United States Education Secretary Arne Duncan and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced a pilot program in the Department of Education’s District 79 schools to develop an accelerated learning program that will prepare more General Educational Development (GED) candidates for careers and college. District 79 schools were established to help students succeed by providing diverse and innovative educational opportunities that combine academic instruction with meaningful youth development. The pilot will begin in January and will develop a curriculum to better prepare our students for college, and create a new GED test that is more rigorous and better aligned with the Common Core Standards that New York State and most other states are adopting. The pilot is being funded through a $3 million grant from the MetLife Foundation to the American Council on Education (ACE). The Mayor, Secretary and Chancellor were joined at the Alternative Education Complex in Manhattan by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, MetLife Foundation President Dennis White, American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad and Community Service Society President David Jones.

“We need to do a better job preparing our students so they can have a shot at a successful future,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The current General Educational Development curriculum does not teach them the skills needed in today’s workforce. By working closely with all of our partners to raise the bar and open more doors for our students, we will restore the promise this certificate once held for students who are unable to receive a high school diploma.”

“The GED needs to be more than a certificate of completion,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “It needs to be a passport to college and careers. This pilot project is making an important step to ensuring that all GED recipients are prepared to succeed in college and help meet President Obama’s goal that the United States once again lead the world in college completion by the end of the decade.”

“Today a staggering 1.6 million New Yorkers don’t have a high school diploma and are struggling with unemployment, lack of opportunity and the sheer weight of competing for jobs with others who are better educated,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “The GED is a first step toward helping them realize better lives, and we want all New Yorkers to be able to take advantage of the opportunities a GED provides. This pilot program will lead the way in preparing more GED candidates for the test, which will open the door to new opportunities for their futures.”

Arne Duncan and Mayor Bloomberg“Too many young people are not getting the opportunities they deserve because they have not been taught the skills needed to work in the 21st Century workplace,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “The results from this pilot will ensure that a GED certificate truly serves as an indicator of a student’s ability to begin a career or attend college.”

“District 79, which each year serves about 30,000 young people and adults who are interested in obtaining a GED credential, is an ideal partner for this pilot,” Chancellor Klein said. “This will build upon the work we have already undertaken to standardize eligibility requirements, increase program quality, use data to ensure accountability, and raise program graduation standards. The grant and the pilot will allow us to create promising practices that prepare students to succeed on a more rigorous assessment and to work with other city agencies to promote city-wide reform.”

The GED test was developed to help returning World War II veterans obtain a credential that would allow them to enter college and take advantage of the GI Bill. However, the current curriculum is not in line with the skills needed in today’s workforce and required at higher-education institutions. The New York State passing score of 2250, for example, is only equivalent to an 8th grade proficiency level in reading and math. And students can pass the writing section with only a 6th grade level proficiency. The partnership between New York City and ACE, and its non-profit program the GED Testing Service’s (GEDTS), is the first step in overhauling the current General Educational Development test and ensuring that students obtaining it are career and college ready.

Through the pilot, administrators will develop and assess curricula designed to help accelerate students’ competence in literacy and numeracy, train GED instructors on the new test and curricula, construct implementation guidelines for states and districts to ensure they are prepared to help students meet more rigorous standards, and test items for the new GED and interim assessments aligned to the new GED test. The planning phase of the pilot will run from January 2011 to July 2011, curriculum and assessment tools will be developed during school year 2011 and 2012, alongside implementation pilots and teacher training. Outcomes of the pilot will be evaluated and finalized in 2014.

 “Our nation is making a commitment to define standards of college and career readiness, prepare all students to meet them, and regain international leadership in educational attainment,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We commend ACE for showing bold leadership in defining what’s needed to achieve those goals, including addressing the needs of the large and diverse population of adults who lack a high school diploma.”

“If we are to meet the goals set by the Obama administration of restoring American’s global education preeminence, we must reach adult learners and help them achieve, in a reasonable amount of time, the credentials needed to move on to postsecondary education and ultimately to family-sustaining careers,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “Thanks to the generous grant from MetLife Foundation, this pilot project will provide the basis for achieving these objectives.”

“Last year, the Community Service Society released a report on the GED program in New York City that revealed many shortcomings – we are pleased to see many of our recommendations being implemented,” said Community Service Society President David R. Jones. “The GED has a number of values; it shows a mastery of basic skills, provides a gateway to higher education and better jobs, and has a positive effect on earnings and the economy.”

About ACE:
Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy.

About GED Testing Service:
GED Testing Service is a program of ACE which develops, delivers, and safeguards the GED Tests, setting the policy for and ensuring compliance of GED test battery administration. GED testing is administered by each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Canadian provinces and territories, the U.S. insular areas, U.S. military and federal correctional institutions.

About MetLife Foundation:
MetLife Foundation supports education, health, civic and cultural organizations. In education, it seeks to strengthen public schools through effective teaching and leadership, and to prepare students for access to and success in higher education, particularly the crucial first year. The Foundation’s grant making is informed by findings from the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. 

Photo Credit: Spencer T. Tucker