second-class diploma: examining the GED

American RadioWorks has an audiobook up with a comprehensive look at the history, development and state of the GED. Lots of great pictures and graphics. The show discusses the standardized testing mania after WWII and the invention of the optical scanner and much more. From the website:

The second trend was the enormous growth in intelligence testing. While mental testing for intelligence and achievement had been going on for decades, the scope of testing hit unprecedented levels in World War II and after. Many education experts of the era held a deep belief that standardized tests could revolutionize how human performance was measured and managed, in school and on the job.
"They were really quite convinced that there was a science of education. That learning could be measured. And that there would be tests to both examine as well as credential people, whatever their place in society," says William J. Reese, a historian of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "The GED has to be seen as part of that larger story of how testing became so fundamental to American life."
There is some problematic framing of the issue of testing vs school and what skills are gained by high school attendance. For example, the blithe discussion of whether the GED encourages dropouts, would sound quite differently framed with the school-to-prison pipeline as it exists in so many high schools. The oft-repeated emphasis on the discipline and people skills learned in high school belie contemporary efforts to cope with truancy issues related to socio-economic status. High school socialization is, in fact, problematic and not the source of soft skills. The treatment of capable, working citizens who lose in a credential game that is rigged and transfers jobs upward is hard to fathom.

There is a focus on the NEDP, National External Diploma Program, only available in six states.

GED Prep Underway
Many now are prepping to take the current test before the format and cost change.
Other changes in 2014 include doubling GED coursework hours, to eight from four per week. Students will be required to register online for classes and tests. Exams must be taken on computers — no more pencil and paper.

more on the GED changes

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