Nebraska Appleseed received the following letter from Kate Trindle, a retired social studies teacher who volunteers to tutor GED students, in response to our recently released report, Diminished Returns: Low GED® Participation Adds to Nebraska’s Workforce Challenges. Kate has personally seen how changes to the GED program in Nebraska have hurt accessibility and completion in Nebraska. She agreed to let us share her perspective on our blog.
I read your article in both the World Herald and the Norfolk Daily News regarding the lower number of people taking and passing the GED test. I would like to share with you my experiences and opinion.
I am a retired social studies teacher who is presently volunteering my time to tutor GED students. I have 25 years of teaching experience in both the secondary and college levels. I have taught American history, world history, geography, and political science. I hold a social studies field endorsement and teaching certificate for secondary education. I have a masters’ degree from Wayne State College in history and at least 30 graduate hours beyond my masters’ degree – all in the field of Social Sciences.
In tutoring students for the social studies portion of the GED test, it is my opinion that the test is incredibly difficult, especially for students for whom English is not their first language or who have not had the benefit of an American elementary education. In our study sessions, I find that there are many of the practice questions that are written in language from the 18th and 19th centuries using wording and phrasing that is unfamiliar to most American students. Many of the questions and answers are ambiguous and there are some that I cannot come up with the correct answer. It seems to me that the test is written at an extremely high level that is unattainable to many students – let alone students working toward a GED.
As anecdotal evidence, I would like to tell you about one of my students with whom I have been working for nearly a year. She was raised in Mexico and came to the United States when she was 13 years old. As a woman in her early 40s, she speaks unaccented English. She is intelligent and has already passed the math portion of the GED. She works from 4 am to 3 pm full time at a local meat packing plant. By 3:30 she meets me at the local library where there is internet access. She has spent $6.00 to take the practice test at least 10 times. She has taken and failed the GED social studies test twice at Northeast Community College. The first time she took the test, she missed passing by 2 points. The second time, she scored worse. All of the costs of testing and travel have come from her own pocket.
While this determined woman will continue in her attempt to gain a GED, others may not be so persistent. Word is certainly out that the test is very, very hard to pass and that has become a deterrent for many.
Thank you for shedding light on the problem of the current state of the GED test and please use my experiences and opinions in your continued fight for educational equity for all Nebraskans.
Emphasis added by Appleseed staff. To read more about the GED in Nebraska, see our recently released report, Diminished Returns: Low GED® Participation Adds to Nebraska’s Workforce Challenges.