Accommodations on the GED Ready Test

I have recently been inundated with phone calls and emails regarding how to provide extra time on the GED Ready Test for our adult education students in Arkansas who have been approved for extra time on the GED. 

In Arkansas, students are required to pass the GED Ready Test, a web-based test, before they can take the GED.  There is, however, no way to take the GED Ready Test with a built-in accommodation for extra time.  Since most of our students with documented disabilities request and receive extra time on the GED, we are faced with no way to administer the Ready Test with extra time to determine whether or not the student may be able to pass the GED.  Furthermore, without the extra time, the students are ultimately unable to pass the Ready Test at all, and are then unable to take the GED.

GEDTS has confirmed that the only way to stop the clock for extra time is to close out the test, then log back in.  When you close the test, it stops the clock, then resumes when you log back in. But this is not like pausing the test on the GED, because if you log out, you can’t see the question & answer choices anymore.

So far, the only way we've figured out to provide extra time during Ready testing is this:  The student starts the Ready test.  The examiner does a screen print of the question, then the student closes out the test – stopping the clock – then figures out how to answer the question on the screen print, then logs back in to record their answer.  Go to the next question, do a screen print, close the test, answer the question, log back in, etc. etc. This is not an acceptable way to test anyone.  You can only imagine how long it takes.

There are two versions of the Ready test, and GEDTS has told us that the questions are not co-mingled or jumbled in any way.  But one of our instructors has found the questions in a different order each time someone takes the test, and sometimes the questions are mixed between the two versions.  So if that teacher is right (and I don't know why she would lie about it), you can't just print the screen shots and re-use them without sorting through hundreds of questions to find the one your student needs to read.

So this is not working for us at all.  As the person in charge of helping adult ed and literacy programs in Arkansas address their instructional and testing issues concerning their students with disabilities, I am increasingly frustrated that I can’t give anyone a good answer to this problem.

GEDTS has assured us that they are now aware of this issue, and of course, they will work towards developing a version of the Ready test that will be available with accommodations for students with disabilities.  They also mentioned that Arkansas is the ONLY state that has even mentioned this problem...which doesn't put it at the top of their list of priorities right now.

Maybe we're the only state that requires students to pass the Ready test (while taking it at the adult ed program under supervision) before taking the GED?  Are there other states with this requirement?  

Also, has anybody else tried giving the Ready test with extra time?

It would help if other states would contact GEDTS about this issue.  They might see it as more of a priority if they hear from someone besides us.  If anyone is on this listserv who would be willing to do that, that would be fantastic.  You can send emails to accommodations@gedtestingservice.com.

Patti White

Disabilities Project Manager

Arkansas Adult Learning Resource Center

prwhite@madisoncounty.net

 

 

Comments

Hi Patti,

Thank you for sharing this conundrum.  We have quite a few members in our group who work with the GED as part of their responsibilities.

I hope that you get great responses to your question.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

Hi Patti,

We just received our GED Ready Vouchers so we'll be first getting into this situation in Broward County Schools, FL.  Our state doesn't have the requirement as Arkansas of having to pass the GED Ready before they can take the official test.  I'm not sure why they would unless the state is also paying for their official test. Our district only sets the minimum passing scores for our underage population on the GED Ready before we will  approve them taking the official GED exam. This isn't any different than what we did with the OPT 2002 version. However, we do not have that same requirement for other target groups. We will still give our students a paid voucher for the GED Ready exam. We can recommend based on the results whether they are ready to test or not,  but do not require them to pass the test since they are paying for their own official exam. We only pay for the underage students.  On the matter of testing accommodations, I realize that there is not the ability to adjust the time for the GED Ready test at this time nor is there a Braille for audio format.  I will certainly send my concerns to them about the GED Ready as I have about the official exam to see if there a way to program it differently. Being that these are online vouchers, it would appear different than the CPT for the official tests which are individualized.

I would think that you'd want to give more credence  to the students performance on the assessments built into the GED prep curriculum.  GED Academy does the scoring for you on the short response.   I don't know If those times can be modified but I will check with our regional rep.  Thank you for bringing this up in conversation and addressing it with GEDTS.  I will certainly follow-up as well.

Hi Meryl,

Thanks so much for your quick, informative response.  I know that this issue will affect so many of our members so I appreciate your getting the ball rolling.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

Hi Meryl,

You're right, our state is paying almost all of the cost of the GED for students.  The students have to pay only $16 to take the GED; that's why they added the requirement that students must pass the Ready test before taking the GED.  And no, there's no Braille, no audio, no speech-to-text, really no accommodations at all available for the Ready test.  But there's no audio format for the GED either.  We have to request a human reader from Pearson-Vue if the student is approved for audio format.  

We figure we can provide a reader, scribe, breaks, and a calculator on the Ready test.  It's really only the extra time that's got us stymied at this point, but the first person who is approved for Braille will be a whole new problem.

And they do have short response questions on the Ready test, but those questions are not scored.  So you could even leave those blank; it's not going to change your score like it would on the GED.

Thanks for contacting GEDTS about this issue!  The more states that get involved, the faster we'll see development of a GED Ready test with built-in accommodations.

Hi Patti,

I have been contacted behind-the scenes by several people who are in the process of getting answers so they can respond.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

Hello,

 What an  interesting conversation! While we have not had any of our students request accommodations on the GED Ready YET, this will likely come up in the future. As Meryl noted, Florida doesn't require a passing score on the GED Ready except for underage testers. I am told our instructors use their best judgement based on classroom work and assessments. I already let GED Testing Service know of these concerns. Hopefully, they will address this sooner than later. I did see on their website that Pearson will pay the cost of a reader and/or a scribe. 

Joan

 

Hi Patti,

I re-read your response above and was so pleased to hear how generous your state of Arkansas is in paying the majority of expenses for your students to take the GED Tests.  At first I thought it referred to students with disabilities only, but realized that wouldn't be fair to charge only one specific group the low fee.

Are there other states who charge a reduced - or greatly reduced rate for people to take the GED Tests?  

Are there different rates charged for GED students as opposed to those who are not registered in an adult education class?

Please share information about your state and others you are aware of.   If you are in a state where fees differ from city to city, or county to county, please share that too.

Thanks,

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

Hi Patti,

Meryl Eisenberg contacted Dr. John Hosterman at the Pearson VUE & GED Testing Service and received the following response from him:

 

Hello,   GEDTS has been researching this issue; it may involve publishing several new tests, which will involve significant development and coordination with Pearson VUE.  Our various options are now being investigated.  I don't have a timetable for you yet, but this will be communicated to the field once we have more information.  However, I can assure you that GEDTS is well aware of this issue.     Thanks,   John   John A. Hosterman, Ph.D. Director, Global Accessibility Pearson VUE & GED Testing Service 5601 Green Valley Drive Bloomington, MN 55437 952-905-7170

 

We're still trying to figure out how to give that GED Ready™ test with extra time.  We think we have finally printed all the questions that might come up on either version of the test, so now, the student logs in and we figure out which version it is, then the student takes the test on paper using the copies of the questions we've printed, then the student logs back in and records their answers.  So it looks like they took the test in 5 or 10 minutes, but really, the examiner was timing them (with extra time as approved by GEDTS® for the actual GED® test) while they took it on paper.

No word from GEDTS® regarding any kind of new test development.  Earlier, they indicated it would take months, and that's after they decide to start the process.

The whole thing is crazy, not to mention unacceptable.  It’s certainly not a valid approach to test-taking.  

Following is a long summary of the problems we're having with the new GED® test.  For those of you in adult education who are dealing with this new test and you have students with learning disabilities, it may be worth your time to read on.  If you're not working in adult ed and/or you don't have students with learning disabilities, you should probably stop reading right here...because there's a lot of problems.

While the GED Ready™ is my biggest concern at the moment, there are other concerns about the actual GED® test.

First, depending on the student’s score, they can either earn a high school equivalency diploma or a college-readiness certificate.  When the new GED® test was released in January 2014, our adult education centers began testing for the students who passed the GED Ready™.  A couple of months after the official test release, GED® Testing Service sent out a notice that they were increasing the time on the math portion of the test by twenty minutes.  So, you can do that after the test has been normed and validated?  I’m thinking of the students who took and passed the test with a score that got them their high school equivalency diploma, but who MAY have been able to attain the college readiness certificate if they’d had the same amount of time on the math test that students get now.

Second, before the new GED® test was released, we were told that it would include text-to-speech software as an accommodation for students with disabilities who are approved for an audio format for testing.  This software is still not available.  Pearson-Vue is supposed to arrange for a reader to go to the testing center and read the test to the student.  This is not a standardized approach to testing, and it decreases the independent functioning of the student with a disability who is taking the test.  Furthermore, GED® Testing Service has always said that a student must have a 15-pt. discrepancy on their learning disabilities evaluation to request and receive an audio format as an appropriate and effective testing accommodation.  So far, we had had no requests for a reader approved here in Arkansas – and one student had a 40+-pt. discrepancy on his disability documentation.

Third, the new requests for accommodations forms for the GED® test are designed for the student to fill out themselves and submit directly to the GED® Testing Service Accommodations Team.  Page 2 of the request form for learning disabilities has spaces to list each accommodation requested as well as a rationale for each one.  Our students don’t know how to write a psychological rationale for accommodations; indeed, the psychologists who have been evaluating students for learning disabilities this year can’t even figure out what GED® Testing Service wants them to write.  One psychologist told me that the student’s request for accommodations was denied because “there wasn’t enough information in the narrative report.”  That psychologist says he’s never seen any testing service that requires the kind of detailed report required by GED® Testing Service, and he can’t figure out what else he’s supposed to write. 

One example of how difficult these request forms are to fill out was during a presentation at the Learning Disabilities Association of America 2014 Conference in Anaheim, California by Dr. John Hostermann, Director of Accessibility and Disability Services for Pearson VUE & GED® Testing Service.  In that presentation, Dr. Hostermann said that a student can’t request “extra time,” or even “double time.”  They must request “standard time plus 25%” or “standard time plus 50%,” etc. or the request will be automatically denied.  The rationale for that request, assuming the student wrote it correctly, must include information tied directly to the narrative report included with the psychological evaluation that documents the learning disability. 

What student can do that?  It’s like GED® Testing Service is setting up the student for an automatic denial of accommodations.

If a testing service like Pearson-Vue is going to allow accommodations on the GED® test, they must make those accommodations available on both the GED® test and the GED Ready™.  Furthermore, they can’t make it so hard to ask for and receive accommodations that nobody can figure out how to do it, not even professional psychologists.   

Patti White

Disabilities Project Manager, AALRC

Hi,

We are also having an extremely difficult time in getting accommodations for students on the GED. As part of the California Community Colleges, we have a rigorous Learning Disabilitiy Eligibility Model. In the past, we were able to get accommodations (not always quickly), but we were able to get accommodations for our students. At this point, there have been no approvals.

This is a violation of the law and I don't know what the next step should be.

Marie Doerner
Learning Disability Specialist

Thanks for posting this, Marie.  While I've been overwhelmed with the problems our programs have giving the Ready test with extra time, I've also been told of many problems with the students getting approved for accommodations, even with comprehensive diagnostic reports that would readily be approved by other test developers/administrators.  We're also having problems getting Pearson-Vue to schedule the accommodated tests after the students have been approved for accommodations, and serious problems getting a Pearson-Vue reader to show up for scheduled testing.

I'm really surprised more states are not commenting on the issues here.  I'm sure Arkansas and California are not the only states having problems.  So thanks again; it's helpful to know it's not just happening to our students.

Patti White

AALRC Disabilities Project Manager

Hi Patti,

You have at least one more ally from California who is willing to post her thoughts on this problem.  Meryl from Florida already responded too.  What do you think the next step should be?  

Is there someone you can suggest who might be invited to 'speak' to our LINCS community group on this problem?

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

Hi Rochelle,

 I'm thinking that if changes are not forthcoming a lawsuit may need to be filed. These things are unfair to our students who are untitled under the law to have access to tests. Accommodated testing conditions should not be terribly difficult to get approved. I think it is amazing these things were not thought out before the launch of GED(R) 2014. 

I will be interested in the "speaker" you mentioned.

Thanks!

 

Hi Marie,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I see that Patti White has already responded to you.

I would be interested in learning about California's Learning Disability Eligibility Model that you referenced in your message.  Would you be willing to start a new discussion thread on this topic, please?   I am sure this would be of interest to many of our group members.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

 

 

Great discussion. We all should explore filing complaints to our various state consumer protection agencies. The product we are buying for our students does not live up to the marketing promises, and students with learning disabilities are not being served to the same standard as others.

 

Hi Carole,

Thanks for joining this discussion.  As this discussion thread continues, it is interesting to see that responders from many different states have similar opinions.  

If any group members have professional colleagues that are dealing with this issue, please invite them to join in to our discussion and share their experience.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

I'm trying to find out from as many states as possible:  how many adult education students in your state have been denied GED accommodations requests this year, how many requests were partially approved, and how many were approved?

In Arkansas, we have had 200+ students request and receive GED accommodations every year for a few years.  This year, we've had 14 requests since January.  9 were approved (although "several" were partially approved, and I don't know what they mean by "several,") 2 are pending "more information," and 3 were denied.

 I can't believe this problem is only in Arkansas.

If you would like to reply to me privately, please click on my name and it will take you to a page where you can send me an email.

Thanks so much,

Patti White, Disabilities Project Manager, AALRC

Hi Rochelle and Others,

I wanted to share what I learned about Kentucky to add to the conversation.  I asked how it was going with the Kentucky requests for testing accommodations.   This is what Rae Smith, Senior Associate for Strategic Iniatiatives, told me:

"The 2014 GED® test is off to a really slow start and that is true of requests for testing accommodations as well.  GED Testing Service® has been good about extending any approvals we granted at the end of last year. Approvals are good for a year and the approvals we made in 2013 have been recognized and extended for those test-takers in 2014. 

As far as new requests, our sample size is probably too small to draw any conclusions.  Most Kentucky requests have either been approved or approved with changes.  Only a few have returned as incomplete."

Meryl

I think LDA is going to put a similar poll on their website soon, so I would like to encourage the listserv participants to watch for that at http://ldaamerica.org/ 

Interesting that CT is not having any problems.  Most of the approvals I hear about are partial approvals or extensions of accommodations that were approved last year.  

Hi Patti; I was surprised as well with the response I received form the CT consultant. In fact I think she must believe I am a terrible haunt as I asked over and over at a meeting we attended to be sure she understood my question..

             Do you know whether different geographical areas of the country have different folks granting the accommodations? If so that may account for our relative ease in getting them here in CT and others are not so succesful. Lauri

The GED Accommodations Team is the same for everyone everywhere.  I would love to know what's making it so easy in CT...and how many students have applied/received accommodations there since January 2014.  It's my understanding that numbers are way down all over; but so are enrollment numbers in general after the new test came out.  Patti

Hi Patti and Rochelle:  I will be seeing Ct's GED accommodations coordinator on Friday and will attempt to get the number of persons who applied for accommodations since 1/14 and the number of requests that were granted. Lauri

Hi Lauri,

Thanks for being involved in this discussion.   I would imagine that the state accommodations coordinators know what is going on in other states where their colleagues work.  What you find out could be very helpful.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

Hi Lauri,

I see that Patti White has already responded to your message.  

It does seem strange that some states report that they have no problems with their process for qualified GED students to get their needed accommodations, while others have had great difficulty when the people that approve the accommodation requests are the same.

I am going to use our polling feature to see if we can get more responses.

Thanks for being involved in this discussion.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

Hi All: As promised I went back to the Consultant who is responsible for the GED in CT to see how many requests we had since 1/2014, the outcomes and how long it took to process. While she had some info from CT, primarily from requests  coming through DOC. She had the following National Data:

From 1/2014 through 6/2104 there have been 1159 accommodation requests, nationally

738 have been approved [in total or in part] that is 64%

339 were incomplete applications that is 29%

82 were not approved [denied] that is 7%

Average time for processing was 11.8 days.

In Ct the State Dept of Ed has not had any contact expressing disappointment [LEAs or DOC] with the outcome of a request for accommodation. Lauri

Hope this info is helpful to the discussion. Lauri

 

 

 

That's interesting data, Laura.  In Arkansas, most of our approvals are partial approvals.  I wish they would split that number into how many were approved outright and how many were partial approvals.  We're having a hard time getting anyone approved for a reader or a calculator, despite 40+ point discrepancies in LD evaluations.  Mostly, they just approve extra time, and usually only 25% extra time.  Thanks for checking on the numbers in CT!

I thought the same thing!

And one of my biggest concerns is the over use of extended time. It seems to be the "go to accommodation" even though it has been quite ineffective for students with psychiatric disabilties and many cognitive disorders. Broken time is more effctive across the board to allow for cognitve rest and to mediate for anxiety and depression. Not to mention that 25% extension doesn't seem like enough to make a difference for those who really  require that accommodation

 

Hi Patti,

Why do you think there are so many partial approvals?   

My question to others that are involved with the GED accommodations process is....Do other states have problems getting students approved for the accommodations of a reader or a calculator?   If so, please respond to this message.

Thank you,

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

 

 

Hi Rochelle,

I have no idea why there are so many partial approvals.  I've looked over the documentation for most of the requests that were partially approved, and I couldn't see any reason for not approving the requested accommodations.

I know that one notice of partial approval said the calculator was not approved because a drop-down calculator is available for the whole math test except the first five questions.  Those five questions are designed to measure "core competencies," so they won't allow a calculator for them.  But I feel strongly that a student who has been diagnosed with a math disability can meet those core competencies with the use of a calculator, which is a reasonable request for accommodations under federal law based on the LD evaluation.

I think one of the big downsides of not allowing a calculator for core competency questions is that the student's GED scores determine different levels of certification.  The student may be able to pass the test without a calculator and earn the high school equivalency certificate, but not the college readiness certificate.  Without the college readiness certificate, the student will most likely be required to take remedial classes in college, which they have to pay for, but don't earn credit.  Also, it takes a certain score level to be eligible for any of the many apprenticeship programs/schools nationwide. The denial of reasonable accommodations could affect the student's eligibility for those schools.

I hope more students begin receiving the accommodations they request that are thoroughly supported by their LD evaluation documentation.

 

Hi Lauri,

This is such helpful information to add to this discussion.  I understand incomplete applications, partial approvals, and denials.  Does the 7% denial figure match the national average?  What about the processing time of 11.8 days?  Is there a standard time or maximum allowed time for processing? 

Can anyone else give us similar information from another state?

Thanks very much,

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

 

HI: I guess I should have highlighted that the info I sent is the national data as recieved by our our GED progam specialist in Ct from the Feds.

     i was so delighted that she had that global info to share.

      In looking back over info I have from the GED Testing Service I found the following ;" The accommodations request decision will be communicated to you from GED Testing Service to your email account provided during the registration process. In most cases, you will a decision within 30 days."

   Lauri

 

The latest news from GED includes information that they are still working on getting accessibility software embedded in the test for students who are approved for those kinds of accommodations.  This includes ZoomText, JAWS, and NVDA (a screen-reading program).  The software would be delivered via the Pearson-Vue Athena test driver along with the test rather than distributed to individual testing centers.  GEDTS hopes to have the software available within "a few months."

There is already a Braille version of the test that includes raised tactile graphics.

Also in the works is a GED Ready test that will be delivered with 25% extra time built in for students who are approved for standard time plus 25% on the GED test.  It won't help anyone approved for 50% or 100% extra time, but it's a start.  No word on when it will be available.

I have a new question about the accommodations request process, though.  The new DSM-5 goes into "ethical" effect on October 1, 2014, and it changes the "rules" for evaluating learning disabilities.  The biggest change is that the process no longer involves IQ testing and looking at score discrepancies.  I'm wondering how this will fit with the current GED Request for Accommodations for LD form, which is based on the DSM-IV and requires IQ scores and score discrepancies with achievement tests.  The form can be downloaded as a .pdf at http://gedtestingservice.com/uploads/files/8a566c077d2571f50b69cd23d9adf0e4.pdf for those who want to look it over.