The state plans to hire the company that struggled to administer this year’s ISTEP test to provide a high school equivalency exam that will replace the one in use for decades.
CTB/McGraw-Hill will offer those who don’t have high school diplomas a test that is affordable and available on paper or online, said Indiana Department of Workforce Commissioner Scott Sanders. The new test will be available next year.
The exam will replace the General Educational Development, best known as the GED. Indiana is one of several dozen states that have been looking for an alternative since Pearson, the company that owns the rights to the GED, announced plans to make the exam available only online and at nearly double the price.
The new test – called the Test Assessing Secondary Completion or TASC – is already in use in New York. The exam will increase in rigor over the next several years as part of an effort to use an assessment that employers will accept, said Joe Frank, a workforce development spokesman.
“A quality workforce is essential to economic growth,” Sanders said in a statement. “It was crucial to select an exam that is on par with Indiana’s College and Career Readiness Standards while ensuring it is accessible to any Hoosier.”
CTB/McGraw-Hill also administers Indiana’s ISTEP test, which is the standardized exam used to measure accountability and student achievement in K-12 schools.
Earlier this year, problems with CTB’s servers meant some students were kicked out of the computer-based testing program and having the programs pause. Some had to start their tests over and the state was forced to expand the testing window to ensure that all students had an opportunity to complete the exams.
In all, about 78,000 students suffered testing interruptions.
State officials took those problems into consideration when they picked CTB for the new high school equivalency exam, Frank said. But they determined the situations to be “apples and oranges,” he said.
“When student take the ISTEP, there are hundreds of thousands of taking it in the same few days,” Frank said. “We have just 10,000 people taking (the high school equivalency test) throughout the year and more than half of them are going to be paper-based testing, not computer-based. They are completely different types of volume.”
Indiana and about 40 other states and the District of Columbia have been working to find an alternative to the GED since Pearson announced it planned to move to online-only testing in 2014 and nearly double the price for the exam.
That would have boosted the cost of the GED from $70 today to $120 starting next year. Frank said the TASC exam is likely to cost less than $70.
Just as important, Frank said, the test will continue to be offered on paper. Computer-only testing would have cut the number of providers willing to administer the exam.
That’s important to administering the test to inmates at the Department of Correction, he said.
Officials from the DOC, Indiana Department of Education and Department of Workforce Development were involved in evaluating the companies that submitted proposals to provide a new exam. Also, Ivy Tech and the Indiana Association of Continuing Educators provided expert analysis of the available testing options.
To learn more about TASC or to find adult education classes visit www.in.gov/adulted.htm.