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GED Information

Suggested Readings

"Fast Facts: The GED." Alice Johnson Cain, Focus on Policy, Volume 1, Issue 1, April 2003.
This brief piece provides a factual overview of the structure of the GED.

Cognitive Skills Matter in the Labor Market, Even for School Dropouts . John H. Tyler, Richard J. Murnane, and John B. Willett, NCSALL Report #15, April 2000.
This research report considers data on dropouts, ages 16-21, from New York and Florida who took GED exams between 1986 and 1990 and determines that the average annual income of young dropouts is low and that for whites, minorities, males and females, skills are an important determinant for earnings. The authors discuss the unique nature and validity of their data and methodological approach and provide detailed data analysis. Data analysis reveals that young dropouts with higher cognitive skills can expect higher annual incomes. Inter-group variation exists as females experience higher economic benefits than males. Minorities, especially those with high skills, can expect greater financial returns than white dropouts. Based on these findings, the authors argue that teachers need to help students develop higher cognitive skills rather than merely prepare them to pass the GED test and conclude with a proposal for policy changes.

The Devil Is In The Details: Evidence from the GED on the Role of Examination System Details in Determining Who Passes . John H. Tyler, Richard J. Murnane, and John B. Willett, NCSALL Report #16, April 2000.
The researchers use data from the GED certification system to argue that details of the system impact the number of test takers who obtain credentials and the racial/ethnic composition of those who pass. Findings reveal that initial pass rates on GED exams vary greatly by race/ethnicity and by age within race/ethnicity groups with 77% of Caucasian GED candidates, 66% of Hispanic candidates, and 46% of African American candidates passing on the first attempt. When candidates opt to retake tests, 88% of Caucasians, 80% of Hispanics, and 66% of African Americans pass. Based on this data, the authors assert that the retake option is important. No substantial gender differences were noted on initial pass rates although research revealed that males scored lowest on the writing test and females scored lowest on the math test. The authors suggest that these findings have implications for instruction and for how each test is weighted.

"Letter to the Editor." John Tyler, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue C, September 1998.
In response to criticism and issues raised in response to his article, "The GED: Whom Does It Help? Results from a New Approach to Studying the Economic Benefits of the GED" ( Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998), Tyler clarifies what his research explains about the impact of GED credentials on the earnings of young, white dropouts, ages 21-26, who passed the test with minimal requirements but not on the earnings of young, minority youth with similar scores. With the data collected, Tyler cannot establish employer discrimination as a factor, but states that this possibility warrants closer examination. Tyler notes that some research indicates that minority dropouts are employed and financially rewarded in jobs where skills matter. Due to the design of data collection for GED candidates, he explains that his data is limited to two categories, white and minority.

Questions to Consider

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