Aligning the GED to College and Career Readiness

The New York Department of Education and the sponsors of the General Educational Development program yesterday took an important step in the effort to raise expectations for all students.

At an alternative education center for youth and adults in Manhattan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and Molly Broad, the president of the American Council on Education, which sponsors the GED, announced the start of a pilot program to align expectations for GED program to standards that prepare participants for success in college and careers.

“The GED needs to be more than a substitute for a high school diploma. It needs to be a passport to college and careers,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the event. “This pilot project will demonstrate ways to ensure that all individuals who pass the GED are prepared to succeed in college and careers.”

The pilot project is building on the state-led effort that has created a common core of standards in math and English. So far, 40 states and the District of Columbia this year have adopted the Common Core standards in math and English.

Now, New York City is leading the way to make these standards a game-changer for adults in the GED program. The 500,000 adult learners who pass the GED exam every year deserve to know whether they truly are ready to succeed in college and careers.

The success of our adult learners is essential for the economic future of our country. President Obama has set a goal that the United States once again be first in the world in college completion by the end of the decade. To reach that goal, we will need to add 8 million new graduates over the next decade. We will succeed only if adult learners enter postsecondary schools at record rates and complete their degrees.

Just as our high schools award diplomas that guarantee students are ready for college and careers, the GED has to raise its standards so that adult learners are prepared for the challenges of postsecondary education and to work in the 21st Century economy.


  1. Education is the the key, however some of us have to make choices that make it necessary that we have to leave the formal school setting and to support a family situation. I support the GED test that has helped so many move on and become an asset to our community and our work force,by letting thoes continue to earn a degree. A lot of talent has come to help our Nation keep ahead and up front.

  2. This is in response to Alma’s posting on January 12, 2011, in which she is asking for GED information for her son. Regardless of what state you live in, your local community college will likely be your best resource for your son. I work at Randolph Community College in North Carolina as the GED Chief Examiner. Community colleges care deeply about helping adult learners and those who made poor decisions in the past get second chances. Call your local community college and ask for their GED Examiner or their GED/Basic Skills office. They can explain any and all testing requirements, initial appraisals, instructional classes if there are any deficiencies of skills, cost to take the GED tests, etc.

  3. I woulld love to get more information concerning receivng a GED for my son. He is 40 years old and needs his GED so he can get into a certificate program to train for a job. He is a convicted felon, but is intersted in bettering his life, but he does not know where to turn. Can you please send me some infomation to help him get an education so he will at least have a chance at employment.

    Thank You

  4. This is an important initiative. The blog does not mention another key component of it, however. The innovative, promising pilot project that may help shape what the GED could and should be is not being funded by federal, state or city governments, but by a grant from MetLife Foundation and will include a rigorous evaluation by MDRC. This initiative could well be the type of enlightened public-private partnership that informs change and guides limited tax resources to their best use.

  5. I think we need to careful in assuming that one program model fits with all states and their populations. The western states like Wyoming, Colorado, Montanna, Utah and other in the region do not have the density of population, the same jobs and employment issues, diversity of races, and many other characteristics that many of these programs are built around. It is important to ensure that, if any model program is that good, it should be flexible enough to be reworked to fit an areas individual needs and populations. There are too many programs that are not for rural, low to zero diverse populations and they fail because they are not flexible enough to make them fit. This is a wonderful idea and it seems to make a great deal of sense. I hope it works and can be adapted by our rural western states.

  6. As Secretary Arne Duncan recently stated in his speeach at The American Enterprise Institute, we spend several billion dollars a year on remedial education, re-teaching students skills they should have learned in high school. I commend the New York Department of Education and the sponsors of the General Education Development Program (GED) for taking what can be perceived as a first step in raising expectations for these students. How the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative impacts this first step will be important. The Common Core State Standareds (CCSS)are said to have been designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. Therefore, as the New York Department of Education and the sponsors of the General Education Development Program (GED) take their first step(s) in raising expectations, I would hope the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative is a frequent talking point. To read Secretary Duncan’s full speeach, visit To speak with me in further detail about my take on this subject, visit

  7. This is a great initiative but I believe there is a disconnect the GED and the ultimate career selection.There is also a disconnect between the college major and the reality of the job/career. Students will need a great deal of career counseling prior to making a selection as the best major to persue. It is very critical for the individual select the best major and then inturn realize the implications of the choice in reference to requirements, salary realities, and labor market projections.

    This process should be seamless and be an integral part of the GED process.

    GED – Career Readiness – College Major Selection – Labor Market Realities

  8. I am so glad that this article was written. I totally agree with the this initiative. As a newly appointed administrator (VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of Student Development) of an institute that prepares adults learners to pass the GED exam and prepares them for college level education in the City of New York, I welcome any initiative that the United States Department of Education is pursuing to raise standards for GED programs.


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