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Ivy Tech offers students online GED exams

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For a glimpse into the future of high school equivalency testing, look no further than Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus/Franklin.

The college’s Workforce Certification Center began offering computerized general education development exams in October and now hopes more people will sign up, said Terri Bartnett, the center manager.

She said the tests began at Ivy Tech’s Poling Hall but were moved this month to the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave.

That puts the college far ahead of a state requirement that all test-providing institutions, including McDowell Education Center at 2700 McKinley Ave., tear away from pencil and paper and give the tests exclusively on computers starting Jan. 2.

Register for the GED

People at least 18 years old can register to take the computer-based GED high school equivalency test at the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave., by calling the Pearson Vue testing service at 877-392-6433 or visiting the website.

Cost is $24 to take each content area, or $120 to take them all. Participants must take all sections within 60 days. They can schedule a time to retest if they fail or want to improve their score.

Computers have certain advantages over pencil-and-paper testing, including that scores in most cases are provided immediately to students. Also, people can register, pay and schedule a testing time online before ever stepping into the workforce office to take the test, Bartnett said.

According to the GED Testing Service, computers demonstrate students’ proficiency with technology, which is something students may need when they enter the workforce.

Ivy Tech charges $120 for someone to take all sections of the test: science, history, reading, writing and math.

McDowell offers a complete pencil-and-paper-based GED test for $70. However, McDowell and every other testing facility in January will increase the cost to $120, as well. That’s a mandatory part of shifting entirely to computer-based testing.

Bartnett said Ivy Tech’s GED testing service had been kept low key since October, as the college was planning to move its GED testing to the Learning Center, a facility shared by local colleges.

In fact, it has had an average of only one person take the test each week, despite the testing center making testing available at multiple times Mondays through Saturdays.

She said the move to the Learning Center finished last week. Now, the school is ready for however many people step forward.

Statistics show a GED diploma is worthwhile financially for students.

Joe Frank, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said adults with a high school or equivalency degree earn more than $25,000 a year, compared with less than $20,000 for adults without a degree.

About 11 percent of Bartholomew County adults 25 and older in 2010-11 did not have a high school diploma or GED, according to the Indiana Business Research Center. That means there were 5,367 county adults eligible to take the GED exam.

Adults without high school degrees have a harder time finding employment. Frank said a little less than 20 percent of people without a high school degree are unemployed, about twice the rate as people with degrees.

Also, a high school or equivalency diploma is a stepping stone to college. Median income for young adults with a four-year degree was $45,000 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“The great thing about this is that it’s so flexible,” Bartnett said.

“People can choose which sections they take and when.”

Bartnett said Ivy Tech offers the service as part of its Corporate College function. That service provides various, computerized assessment and certification testing so people can go directly into a job or continue on to college.

A total of 21 Ivy Tech locations across the state offer computerized GED testing, Bartnett said. She said the closest online testing location outside Columbus is the Ivy Tech campus in Bloomington.

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