Ohio Approves Addition of HiSET® and TASC® to GED® for High School Equivalency
~ New HSE Tests Provide Competition for GED, Options for Ohioans ~
The adult education landscape is changing. Until recently, a student’s options were limited — either graduate high school with a diploma, or earn a General Education Diploma / Development (GED). Without either, employment, higher education, or the ability to run a household and support a family were elusive goals.
Although the GED’s long history and name recognition has made it synonymous with high school equivalency (HSE), it’s actually just one of three assessment companies. Some states, in fact, don’t even offer it, opting for one of its competitors instead. Although all GEDs are HSEs, all HSEs are not GEDs.
In Ohio, major changes to the GED exam in 2014 created barriers for many people in need of an equivalency diploma. In addition to adding more complex problem solving, the price increased, and the test became 100% computerized. For many Seeds students, these changes made obtaining an HSE feel impossible.
Seeking alternatives for a population needing solutions, Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed adding new tests options in 2016. Consequently, in August this year, the Ohio Department of Education approved three testing assessment companies as providing high school equivalency test options for the state: HiSET, TASC, and GED.
COMPARING HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY TESTS: GED, TASC, AND HISET
All three tests are based on the National Common Core standards for college and career readiness, and employers will accept completion of any of the three exams in lieu of a traditional high school diploma.
The state is offering vouchers for all three exams, lowering the cost of each complete test to $40 with voucher for first time test takers.
Each exam is divided into multiple sections (Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts), which students can take at different times.
Methods of Assessment
Each test is available in both English and Spanish, with accommodations available for learning and physical disabilities.
Computerized versions of each test include technology-enhanced questions that require the ability to drag and drop, use tab navigation, and have general mousing and keyboarding abilities.
With so many similarities, why all the fuss?
DIFFERENCES AMONG GED, TASC, AND HISET
Although the tests represent three different paths to the same destination, they differ in key areas, some of which are critical to HSE-seekers who live in poverty. What follows is a general overview.
Shortly after announcing the adoption of HiSET and TASC, the state of Ohio announced it would extend the voucher program to make all three tests $40 for first time test takers. Without the vouchers, however, the price of the three tests varies: HiSET is $90, TASC $94, and GED $120.
Method of Assessment
In 2014, the GED became 100% computerized. Both HiSET and TASC offer paper and pencil versions of the test, and students have the option of mix-n-matching: for example, social studies on the computer while taking math via pencil and paper. For those living in poverty, digital literacy abilities tend to be lower due to lack of access. For Seeds students, a completely computerized test is akin to adding a hidden assessment area – navigating a computer.
Each of the test providers offers a free practice tests (sample questions) in each subject area, at least a quarter length of the actual exam. HiSET however, offers three free practice tests in each subject area, half the length of the actual exam.
Although all three exams cover Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies, two subjects are handled differently from test to test: Language Arts and Math.
HiSET and TASC break Language Arts into two sections, Reading and Writing, so they have five subject tests compared to the GED’s four. GED test takers are asked to read two prompts and develop an argument explaining which prompt has the better-supported position. HiSET takers also respond to two passages with differing opinions. TASC takers will be given one of two essay types, either argumentative or informational. Students won’t know in advance which prompt they will be given.
In Math, a calculator is permitted for most of the GED exam. HiSET and TASC math exams are both divided into two sections — one that allows a calculator and one that does not.
Overall, the GED has a minimum score of 100 and a maximum score of 200. Students must obtain a score of 145 to pass.
Both TASC and HiSET have minimum writing scores required to pass. Although the GED also has a significant extended response (written essay) portion, it does not require a minimum writing score.
HiSET scores range from 0 to 20. Each section must receive a score of at least 8, with a minimum score of 2 out of 6 on the essay. To pass, 45 total points are required.
TASC scores range from 300 to 800, with a minimum passing score of 500. A score of at least 2 out of 8 is required on the essay portion of the Writing subject.
The GED, including essay, is scored by a computer. In rare instances, the computer will send the response to a human for further review. Both TASC and HiSET are scored by a human being, sometimes more than one.
The overall length of the three HSEs varies by less than an hour. TASC is the longest, at 7 hours and 45 minutes. The primarily multiple-choice HiSET is the shortest at 7 hours and 5 minutes. The GED lands in the middle at 7 hours and 25 minutes. Subject areas of each test vary in length, as well.
Assessment testing is a business. The GED is owned by a publicly traded corporation. TASC was created by a privately-held company. HiSET was created by a non-profit organization.
WHICH TEST IS BEST FOR STUDENTS?
Factors such as cost, test anxiety, question and test format, computer literacy, and problem solving abilities can all play a role. In short, it depends on the student. But with three test assessments to choose from, adult learners and adult educators have new options.
Be sure to watch the Seeds’ Blog as our series on the HSEs continues.
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