There might be nothing more American than the GED test.
The General Educational Development test is the exam that gives high school dropouts — and other people who weren’t able to finish the 12th grade — a chance to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make their lives better. It allows adults the opportunity to remake themselves through hard work, dedication, and the American drive to succeed. The GED recognizes that it should never be too late to correct past life mistakes and to earn your way to a better life based on your real abilities. It was even created in 1942 to allow WWII veterans the chance to get the high school diploma they’d put off, in order to join the military and fight for our country.
In 2013, 743,000 people took the GED, and 560,000 passed it to get their GED degree, the equivalent of a high school diploma. Because of the exam, half a million people were able to help themselves, to take charge of their own lives, and to become contributing members of society in the U.S.
If you could measure how American something is on a scale of Osama bin Laden to the Stars and Stripes, the GED would be near the top, right between the Dallas Cowboys and Chevy.
However, being American is to never be satisfied. There’s always more to do, and more to achieve. The American drive to be better is never quenched, and the GED is as American as they come.
On January 1, 2014, the GED shed the last thing holding back its raw Americanism. Up until that point the GED was a non-profit venture, a socialist holdout in the free market stronghold of the U.S. of A. On that day, the un-American American Council on Education privatized the GED, granting Pearson Vue, a multinational corporation based in London, England — and one with an absurdly long history of problems administering tests — the exclusive rights to administer the GED.
Since then, the GED has grown even more and more American. As a privatized venture, it no longer exists for un-American ideals, such as providing public services to those in need, or helping people who had their chance to get a high school education, but were unable to do so.
Since being taken over by Pearson Vue, the price to take the exam has doubled, to the maximum amount that the market is willing to pay. It’s also cut costs by not only switching from a pencil-and-paper exam to a computer-based one, but also minimizing the number of testing locations to only the most profitable ones. Additionally, it has maximized the number of repeat test-takers by increasing the difficulty of the test, making the venture even more profitable. The number of people likely to fail the GED is even helped by the test’s new computer format – test-takers come from predominantly poor backgrounds, and are the least likely to have the basic level of computer literacy required to help pass.
In the year following its privatization, 248,000 people took the exam, and only 86,000 passed. These numbers represent a successful drop in passage rate – the lowest passage rate in 65 years – that is sure to increase profits down the road, as more people need to retake the exam. While the high price and difficulty of getting to a testing location dropped the number of test takers by nearly two-thirds, the increased fee and the lower overhead have made the exam more profitable than ever.
And that, friends, is what America is all about.
[Post image via Shutterstock]