News & Media

GED gets company: Pennsylvania now accepting HiSET test for high school equivalence

03/02/2016 Lancaster Online By Tim Stuhldreher
           Photograph by Suzette Wenger

Adults in Pennsylvania seeking a high school equivalency degree now have two options, and local educators say that’s good news.

Last week, the state Department of Education announced it would begin accepting the HiSET exam, offered by the Princeton, New Jersey-based company Educational Testing Service, as a basis for awarding its high school equivalency credential.

HiSET is an acronym for High School Equivalency Test. It provides another gateway for students seeking jobs or post-secondary education, said Tim Shenk, the director of community education at Intermediate Unit 13.

The state will continue to accept the GED (General Educational Development) test, offered by GED Testing Services. The latter is a joint venture of the American Council on Education and Pearson, a British-owned for-profit education company, the world’s largest.

Among the positives, according to IU13: The HiSET is a little cheaper than the GED — $90 versus $120 for a full battery of subjects. Also, it’s offered in a pencil-and-paper version as well as on computer. The GED is computer-only.

Some people are more comfortable taking a paper-based test. And, a paper test “can be used in settings with minimal technology access” such as a prison, Shenk said.

“We look forward to providing this additional assessment opportunity,” Shenk said.

The HiSET and the GED are based on the same set of national college and career standards, so they measure the same skills, said Deborah Lovett, an instructor at IU13. Students can pick the one they want to take.

The HiSET might be a better fit for potentially hundreds of students in Lancaster County, she said.

It’s not yet certain when IU13 will begin offering the HiSET, but it could be sometime this summer, Lovett said. That will depend on the Department of Education’s rollout plan, the details of which remain to be announced, she said.

The department’s decision to accept the HiSET is the second big announcement this year regarding high school equivalency.

In January, GED Testing Service lowered the cutoff for a passing score from 150 to 145 and made the change retroactive to 2014.

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