GED or not GED? THAT is the question.

Cheryl Lovstrom, Community Learning Network

1 1 17 February 2016

GED officially stands for General Education Development, but most of us know it as the General (or high school) Equivalency Diploma. It is a program that has been around for decades, and demand for it has waxed and waned with the economy. In the current economic climate. CALPs should be prepared for it to be in high demand. GED fits within the CALP Guidelines as a Community Capacity Building program.

The GED is the series of tests learners will take once they are fully prepared, and can be written in select centres in Alberta (usually at a college test centre). It was created to test four core areas: English (Reading and Writing), Math, Science, Social Studies.

The GED is not the same as GED Prep. Many CALPs offer a GED Prep course to help learners prepare for the test, but anyone can challenge the exam without attending a course at all. If you don’t happen to have a GED prep course running, there are some good resources you can recommend to help learners do just that. Steck-Vaughan’s Complete Canadian GED is an excellent resource used by many CALPs in Alberta, and is set up for self-study as well as classroom use (most public libraries will have a copy, or you can order online through Chapters or Amazon).

It’s important to know not all learners who come in to register for a GED Prep course should actually be there. Before you sign someone up, ask a few simple questions to be sure:

  • How old are they? This seems forward, but is very important to ask this question of anyone who looks under 30. Learners under 18 cannot register to write the GED test. These learners also qualify for free education through the K to 12 system while they are registered in school, so should be encouraged to go back in most cases.
  • How long have they been out of school? Again, anyone who looks younger than 30 should be asked this question. Learners cannot write the GED test if they have not been out of school (high school) for at least one year.

And finally,

  • Why do they want to take the GED? GED is great for most people who come in to sign up. But for some, it’s really a waste of time and money.

So when should someone take the GED? GED is good for people who:

  • Want to get their high school equivalency so they can say they have done it
  • Need to have their high school equivalency for work
  • Want to get back into practise before tackling more advanced studies
  • Want to enter some post-secondary programs (these options are very limited, so be sure to help them investigate entrance requirements for their target program)

And when should you recommend something else? You should recommend the learner consider another option when:

  • They only have a few credits left to complete their actual high school diploma (which will take them much farther than the GED)
  • They are under 18 and/or have not been out of school for more than a year
  • They want to apply to most post-secondary programs (for entry as a mature student, a high school diploma isn’t always necessary as long as they have the required core credits)

Knowing what to ask, when to ask it, and how to ask it in a non-threatening way are great tools for every CALP staff’s toolbox. No matter what your learner decides to do, you will know you have recommended the best course of action to meet their needs. And that’s what CALPs do best.

Cheryl Hollidge
CLN Regional Support Staff
Central Alberta


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