CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — The number of people taking high school equivalency exams in the U.S. plummeted – and the percentage who passed fell, too – in the year after a revamped, Common Core-inspired GED was introduced along with two new competing tests.

Test administrators say a rush by people to take the old exam in 2013 before the newer ones were rolled out resulted in fewer test-takers in 2014. And the harder questions on the new exams led to lower scores. The GED, or General Educational Development test, was overhauled last year to reflect some of the Common Core standards that have been adopted by most states and emphasize critical thinking. In 2014, two new high school equivalency exams that also incorporate some of those standards were introduced by other testing companies.

All three tests require students desiring a diploma to show higher-level skills, such as essay writing. In math, students must interpret data and plot equations.

Some of the before-and-after results over the past three years:

n In 2012, before any changes were announced, 581,000 people took the GED, and 69 percent passed.

n In 2013, 713,000 people took the GED, many rushing to get in ahead of the changes, and 76 percent passed.

n In 2014, the first year of the changes, 316,000 people took one of the tests, with about 62 percent passing, regardless of which exam they took.


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