10 things to know about high school equivalency

Until January 2014, states were limited to just one high school equivalency test. For over 70 years, the GED® test was the only test available.

But now states have a choice. Twenty U.S. states, along with four U.S. territories, recognize the HiSET® exam and or the TASC™ test as valid options for their citizens to earn a credential. Alternative tests were developed to give states and, more importantly, test takers ultimate control over how this important credential is achieved.

Here are 10 things Texans need to know as state officials evaluate the status and future of high school equivalency testing.

  1. The cost of new tests, such as the HiSET exam developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS), can be as little as half the cost of the current GED test.
  2. Scores for the HiSET exam, the GED test, and the TASC test are mobile — recognized by employers and higher education institutions nationwide.
  3. The HiSET exam, the GED test, and the TASC test are all aligned to college- and career readiness standards.
  4. The HiSET exam is offered in both English and Spanish — enabling test takers to demonstrate their academic skills in the language they’re most comfortable with.
  5. Texans with a high school equivalency credential earned $7,000 more per year than those without a high school credential, according to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data.
  6. Higher educated communities have citizens more likely to volunteer, vote and raise more productive, more educated children, says the education non-profit College Board in their 2013 Education Pays report.
  7. ETS is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide the education community access to quality testing and free resources to support educational growth — not a for-profit business.
  8. Texas test takers do not earn “a GED,” but earn a Texas-issued credential. This credential is used for postsecondary education, training and employment. Two-thirds of the nation’s workforce will require some postsecondary education or training by 2020, reports Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce in their 2013 study.
  9. Eighteen states administered alternative tests in 2014. Some states have dropped the GED test altogether. For example, Iowa uses the HiSET exam exclusively, while New York State uses only the TASC test. 
  10. High school equivalency programs offer a second chance to many to achieve their professional and educational goals — strengthening families and communities. The new test-option landscape gives states a choice in how their residents can earn their high school equivalency credential.

State Board of Education meetings in mid-July present an opportunity to Texans. The outcomes of these sessions will decide on the long-term future in how Texans earn their high school equivalency certificate. Certification of a high school-level skills is the linchpin for many Texans’ abilities to obtain better employment, education opportunities, and a source of personal pride. Texans should have options in how they achieve this educational milestone that positively influences the individual and their community.

Amy Riker, Educational Testing Service

Amy Riker is a former adult educator and now the national executive director of Educational Testing Service's High School Equivalency Test (HiSet) program.