Wisconsin saw far fewer GED graduates in 2014

Tim Damos:

The number of Wisconsinites who received a high school equivalency certification plummeted by 92 percent this year, in part due to more rigorous standards and an increase in testing fees.

Officials say the switch to a new General Education Development test this year was necessary to better prepare graduates for today’s workforce, and that there already are signs that the downward trend in graduates is beginning to reverse.

As the year came to a close, only 912 people have graduated from Wisconsin’s GED program, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. That’s a dramatic decline from 2013, when 11,378 people got their GEDs.

Madison’s Omega School, which has provided free one-on-one GED test preparation for 42 years, saw the number of graduates drop from about 139 two years ago to 15 in 2014, executive director Oscar Mireles said. In a typical year, the school has 100 graduates, half of whom are minorities.
“Students are getting frustrated,” Mireles said. “It just appears to be more daunting and they say, ‘Why should I even try.’ That’s probably the worst aspect of the change.”

Wisconsin wasn’t alone. Many other states saw a similar drop this year in the number of people seeking high school equivalency degrees, according to GED Testing Service, which contracts with states to provide the course.