The new Common Core curriculum is reaching into the world of adult equivalency diplomas. The General Educational Development test, or GED, that used to be the gateway for a diploma in New York state has been replaced with a harder test called TASC, short for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion.
The Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) offered the test for the first time this week. Marcia Tait, executive director of Literacy CNY, doesn’t know how the test takers did, but knows she’d have had trouble with it.
"The math is going to be very difficult," Tait said. "I’m not sure that I could pass it, to be perfectly honest with you, without some preparation.”
The test is aligned with the much tougher Common Core curriculum that’s been instituted in New York state. It will test a for a higher level for reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, as well as a deeper understanding of math concepts.
"It absolutely is a harder test," Tait said. "It covers math, science, you have to have some knowledge of geography, political science. And the math I understand is very, very difficult. Much higher level, because the state wanted to begin to test people to ensure that they had the skills needed for college and for job readiness.”
EOC instructor Amy Kozachuk says so far the essay is harder on the new test, but the general questions are still on par with the GED. She says that will change.
"The level of difficulty will probably progress from 2014 to 2016 when the final version is rolled out," Kozachuk said. "It’ll also be a computer-based test by that time.”
Tait says the new more rigorous Common Core curriculum that’s been introduced in schools across the state is influencing the exam.
“New York State Ed is intending to align this test by 2017 with Common Core standards," Tait explained. "But this is definitely the beginning. Across the nation, states are ratcheting up their requirements for high school equivalency.”
That’s why Literacy CNY, in conjunction with ProLiteracy, has created a new program to help adult learners, called Buddy Up. It will train 20 volunteer mentors to help students struggling with the new, tougher standards. One of those volunteers, Tia McIntyre, recently finished a six-year road to her high school equivalency diploma.
"It was not easy," McIntyre said. "I took the test seven times. And each time, coming to EOC and with the teacher's help, it helped me move up."
She also says she's glad she did it before the new test came out.
"I was trying to make my goal before it came out, so I did," McIntyre said. "Thank you Jesus, thank you EOC, thank you.”