Adults seeking high school equivalency may be forced to start from scratch

Nova Scotians have until the end of 2018 to complete all of the required tests or else the ones they've already completed could become invalid.

Old test scores could become invalid if students don't complete full program by end of 2018

The current GED program, which dates back to 2002, could be phased out Dec. 31, 2018. (Canadian Press)

Adults working to get their high school equivalency in Nova Scotia may be forced to start from scratch if they don't complete all of the required tests by the end of 2018.

Changes that may be coming Dec. 31, 2018, mean people who have only passed some of the five mandatory tests in math, reading, writing, science and social studies would have to rewrite them all after that date — even the ones they've already passed.

Canada currently uses an internationally recognized high school equivalency testing program, called General Educational Development (GED), from 2002, and it's "out of date," said Lisa Jarrett, spokesperson for Nova Scotia's Labour and Advanced Education Department.

A new test series was developed in 2014, and released in the United States, Jarrett said. If adopted in Canada, the program would be adapted to include Canadian content and eventually be rolled out across the country.

The company that designed the program is discontinuing the 2002 version. Now it's up to Canada to decide if it will adopt the new version.

In the meantime, Nova Scotia has asked for an extension, so that the province can continue using the 2002 model.

The update makes sense, said Alison O'Handley, the executive director of the Dartmouth Learning Network, an organization that helps people prepare to write their GED tests.

"This has been a well-researched change," she told the CBC's Information Morning, but "we want to make sure people know that change is coming" so they aren't caught off guard.

Informing clients

O'Handley said staff are reaching out to clients who haven't completed all of their tests so they can get them done in time.

She said she's not concerned about a time crunch. "A year is a lot of time" when it comes to completing all of the GED tests, O'Handley said.

Some people are ready to write the tests in a few weeks, she said, some need a few months to prepare, and others take up to a year. "Those are the folks we really want to encourage" to get back at it, she said.

O'Handley said Nova Scotians who want help completing the program can call 1-877-466-7725 or visit gonssal.ca to connect with an adult learning program near them.

New program 

The province wouldn't provide much detail on the updated version of the GED program, but O'Handley said her understanding of the changes — based on the version of the program in use in the United States — is that there are only four tests instead of five.

Reading and writing have been combined and the new course is "more practical," she said, with more relevance to the workplace. 

O'Handley said, in general, the new GED program is geared toward those who are hoping to improve their career prospects.

About the Author

Nina Corfu

Associate Producer

Nina Corfu has worked with CBC Nova Scotia since 2006, primarily as a reporter and producer for local radio programs. In 2018, she helped launch and build a national website for preteens called CBC Kids News. Get in touch by email: nina.corfu@cbc.ca

With files from CBC's Information Morning

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