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Ilisagvik helps students navigate new GED test

May 1st, 2015 | Content provided Print this article   Email this article  

Ilisagvik College's Adult Basic Education (ABE) program is going through some significant changes this year in both the GED test itself and in the program's focus, based on new federal legislation. According to Instructor Robert Allen, the program is working hard to help students with the new GED tests, which present students with some significant new challenges not seen in the old GED test series. Beginning this summer, it will be simultaneously reconfiguring itself to meet new federal mandates.

Under the old testing system, the GED consisted of five subject tests. Now it encompasses only four tests but they require significantly more understanding and knowledge than previously expected.

Allen stated, "If you dropped out of high school in 11th or 12th grade, you will likely have an easier time preparing to pass with the new testing than if you dropped out earlier. Early dropouts are at a disadvantage, as the new testing requires a greater level of background knowledge going into it. For instance, to be successful with the math portion, you need a solid grasp of the material covered in two years of high school algebra and one year of high school geometry. The new tests also expect that you can go beyond reading comprehension and actually draw conclusions, summarize what you've read and either extrapolate or recognize the main idea in the piece. This goes beyond what the old testing required to get a passing score."

Because of this change, many students are having difficulty with the new test. Where Ilisagvik usually graduates 16 or so students with their GED each year, this year only one student has successfully passed all the required tests. The good news, according to Allen, is that there are no time constraints on passing all four tests. Once you've passed one, it's done and you never have to take it again.

Under the old system, you had to pass all the tests within a specific time frame or risk taking some of the tests over even if you passed already. According to Allen, the new test is also completely computer based and this presents a special challenge to those who do not have strong computer and keyboarding skills as well as village students outside of Barrow.

But Allen adds that the GED is only part of what their program offers. They also provide instruction in literacy, English as a Second Language, and help adults develop specific job skills that can help them start on a career track. Recent federal legislation entitled the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act requires ABE programs across the country to serve a wider segment of the population and to focus more on helping people plan and implement their career and educational goals.

This includes improving basic skills, obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent, and increasing job-specific skills in order to improve their employment status. In fiscal year 2016 they will be transitioning to meet these new expectations with full implementation expected by the start of fiscal year 2017.

Allen points out that Ilisagvik is already fulfilling much of this required mission through its efforts to get students whatever help they need to enter post-secondary education. However, he does admit it will create some changes in the daily activities of the ABE program.

He notes that there are many other programs in Barrow also working to help this population get the education and training it needs to enter the workforce such as the Vocational Rehabilitation program at IƱupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Ilisagvik's Vocational Education and Workforce Development Program, and the workforce training offered through the North Slope Borough.

"When it comes to capturing this population and helping them become more productive members of their communities and more able to support themselves and their families, we are all working together. This is a big issue and it needs interagency cooperation to maximize results."

If you think these programs can help you in your future, contact Robert Allen directly at 855-1742, or 367-4ABE (4223) after hours and on weekends, or email them at for more information.


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