Friday, July 18, 2008
GONZALEZ HOLD GED CONFERENCE
By Profesor Martin Danenberg “El Quijote del GED”
Senator Efrain Gonzalez (D-Bronx) held a GED conference in his office attended by Senators Sabini (D-Queens) and Huntley (D-Queens) and staff members from Governor Paterson’s office and various other committees. The meeting was called for various reasons, but the recent loss of GED testing centers in the Bronx and other boroughs was of immediate concern to Senator Gonzalez because people want to do the GED and the waiting time is often six months (when I was still teaching in the late 1990’s it was possible to obtain a date for my students in only two weeks). Dr. Patricia Mooney (State GED Chief Examiner New York State Education Department) was the principal speaker providing important information about the operation of the GED office.
Senator Gonzalez immediately told everyone that he is a GED graduate who looked for opportunities in the Civil Service. Senator Gonzalez and the others learned from Dr. Mooney that she suggests students pass a GED practice test with a score of 2,400. This is something that I strongly object to because people who pass the practice test with the minimum passing score of 2,250 or slightly higher (by one extra correct answer which used to be one point above the minimum) are held back from taking the test.
I feel that it is the GED program’s responsibility to have teachers that are properly trained so that the percentage of students who pass the practice test with the minimum passing score can go up. If Senator Gonzalez had been in one of the cities programs and had they required a minimum cumulative passing score of 245 on two or more practice tests of, he might never had gone to take the real GED test and earned his diploma and that is exactly what is happening today in GED programs in the City of New York and some other counties across the state. Search for Brooklyn Ebbets Field The GED Program to find out much more.Mark Leinung, from the office of Governor Paterson, made it clear that he was concerned about increasing the numbers of people who pass the text and not just showing higher percentages of people who pass the test. If only test takers who passed the practice test with 3,000 or more took the test, nobody would fail, but very few would actually take the test among all students. This is something that I have been telling people for years and now the office of the Governor of the State of New York can see that any program in the state of New York that uses a practice test score higher than 2,250 is holding people back and creating a higher percentage that is shown to the public instead of more people passing the test.The biggest shock to all may have been that if a person purchases a program with a fake GED diploma, which happens just about everyday, that person may be arrested upon trying to obtain a job or enter a college by presenting the diploma. The reaction was that the legislature must take action to protect people from this kind of abuse by making the public aware.Conference attendees noticed that the GED numbers have been rising, but the fact is that New York State has lost about 50,000 GED diplomas since the new test came out in 2002. New York had been averaging 36,000 diplomas over a five year period well before the current test came out and the figures have dropped. The recent rise that people noticed at the meeting is insufficient. The top states are in the west. California is in the West, but it was noticed that California is much worse than New York and that conclusion is correct. The level of illiteracy among adults in California is around 53 percent. In 1991, there were 32,668 credentials issued and in 1997 and 37,165 issued in 1999.The OPT or Official Practice Test is not as official as it appears. This means that anyone can purchase it or have access to it. Your local bartender could purchase them and ask GED questions of his patrons and have fun with them. They are really a powerful tool in the hands of a great professional. These practice tests are under copyright, just like a book or a CD and that has to be respected. All of the public libraries of Washington, D.C. give people access to these practice tests and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Public Library is an official GED testing center. The Central Islip Public Library has had my GED Practice Test Program for years now in English, Spanish, and French and I wish all libraries would do the same. That library obtained a $1,000 grant from WAL-MART in two weeks. Assemblyman Phil Ramos was at the inauguration of this GED project and the program has had graduates at no additional cost to Central Islip or any other governmental entity.
IT WAS GREAT TO SEE THE EXCITEMENT PEOPLE HAD TO AN ALTERNATIVE TO EXPENSIVE GED PROGRAMS. YES OPT OR OFFICIAL PRACTICE TESTING IS NEEDED ALL OVER NEW YORK CITY AND NEW YORK STATE.
I told all of those in attendance that Tom Suozzi wrote an initiative where as governor he would have hired college students to teach GED my way for $25 an hour across New York State. That program would have provided GED instruction to more than just the enrolled students and the OPT or Official Practice Test. We could probably double the number of people taking and passing the GED at little cost to the New York taxpayer, helping people become more capable workers in the workforce and cutting down on social welfare costs including incarceration of our youth who all too often must finally earn the GED in jail. Women who are victims of domestic violence and Latinas who are mental health patients (see Assemblyman Peter Rivera’s Mental Health Task Force reports). Brazilians, Hispanics, African Americans and other minorities would gain access to positions in New York State Government (see the report in 2005) Funding is needed to broaden the GED Testing infrastructure now in order to double the number of diplomas. I presented the information on the $50,000 grant donated by Verizon in West Virginia. I would not be surprised if corporate America would donate a million dollars or more to help people take the GED. The idea about refunding a fifty dollar charge to anyone who passes the GED has to be explored.