printable version of page Printer-friendly page

General Educational Development (GED)

Research has determined that GED students experience educational and financial gains when engaged in GED preparation courses that focus on cognitive development in addition to exam preparation and that provide support for transition to postsecondary education and training courses.


Beyond the GED: Making Conscious Choices About the GED and Your Future: Lesson Plans and Materials for the GED Classroom. Sara Fass and Barbara Garner, April 2000; revised 2006 by Eileen Barry.
Newly revised to include new data and information on the Internet, this guide for GED instructors offers lesson plans and helps teachers develop as professionals. It also gives adult learners an opportunity to practice writing, use graphs, read charts, and analyze research findings on the economic impact of the GED.

Persistence Among Adult Education Students Panel Video - [Link will open in a new window.]
The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) and the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) announce the "Persistence Among Adult Education Students Panel," a 30-minute video that features the NCSALL research on Adult Student Persistence. Dr. John Comings, principal investigator, presents a working definition of persistence, examines existing research, and describes NCSALL's three-phase study of the factors that support and inhibit persistence. Other panelists include two practitioners, Kathleen Endaya and Ernest Best.

Program Administrators' Sourcebook: A Resource on NCSALL's Research for Adult Education Administrators. Jackie Taylor, Cristine Smith, and Beth Bingman with Margaret Bott, Kim Gass, Bethany Lay, Douglas Ann Taylor, and Kristin Tiedeman, December 2005.
This sourcebook presents NCSALL's research findings in short sections related to key challenges that program administrators face in their work as managers of adult education programs. It also presents the implications of these research findings for program structure and services, as well as some strategies for implementing change based on these implications.

Research on the Economic Impact of the GED Diploma Panel - [Link will open in a new window.]
This panel discussion focuses on the economic benefits that accrue to holders of the General Educational Development (GED) credential.  It is based on a review by John Tyler of eight recent (published and working) research papers on the GED.  Several of these papers were authored by John Tyler, Richard Murnane, and John Willett, researchers with NCSALL whose work has influenced what we know about the economic benefits of the GED. Other panelists include a teacher, Sara Fass, and a professional developer, Sue Snider.

Seminar Guide: Activity-based Instruction: Why and How. July 2006.
This 3½-hour seminar focuses on instructional approaches that emphasize cognitive development.

Seminar Guide: GED Research and Policy. December 2005.
This 3-hour seminar introduces policymakers and adult education practitioners to the research that has determined that GED students experience educational and financial gains when engaged in GED preparation courses that focus on cognitive development in addition to exam preparation and that provide support for transition to postsecondary education and training.

Seminar Guide: Going Beyond the GED. December 2005.
This 3-hour seminar examines why the adult education system should focus on supporting adult education-to-postsecondary transitions for students.

Seminar Guide: Using Going Beyond the GED. November 2006.
This 4-hour seminar introduces teachers and tutors to Going Beyond the GED: Making Conscious Choices about the GED and Your Future, a set of classroom materials designed for use in GED classrooms. The materials provide learners with practice in graph and chart reading, calculation, information analysis, and writing, while they examine the labor market, the role of higher education and the economic impact of the GED.



The Components of Numeracy. Lynda Ginsburg, Myrna Manly, and Mary Jane Schmitt, NCSALL Occasional Paper, December 2006.
This occasional paper attempts to describe the complex nature of numeracy as it exists today. While there are large-scale assessments, standards documents, and position papers, there has not been a field- and research-based synthesis of the components required for adults to be numerate, to act numerately, and to acquire numeracy skills. This paper attempts to identify and clarify the nature of these components with the hope that such identification and clarification will guide instruction, contribute to the design of assessments, frame research, and inform policy.

Affecting Change in Literacy Practices of Adult Learners: Impact of Two Dimensions of Instruction. Victoria Purcell-Gates with Sophie Degener, Erik Jacobson, and Marta Soler, NCSALL Report #17, November 2000.
In this empirical study, the researchers investigate how the use of authentic materials and collaborative learning contribute to the use of increased and new literacy practices outside of the adult literacy classroom. The authors argue that this has implications for improving the emergent literacy of students’ children. In making this argument, they cite research that demonstrates the link between the frequency of literacy practices in the home and the types of texts read and written by parents, and the development of their children's reading skills.

Classroom Dynamics in Adult Literacy Education. Hal Beder and Patsy Medina, NCSALL Report #18, December 2001.
The authors investigate classroom behaviors and examine questions critical to understanding the reality of adult literacy instruction, including how instruction is delivered, the content being studied, the processes that underlie teaching and learning, and the external forces that shape these behaviors. In this qualitative study, using classroom observations and teacher interviews, in twenty adult education classes in eight states, the researchers use grounded theory methodology to generate an understanding of classroom dynamics and theoretical propositions for future research. The report describes the methodology, reviews relevant literature, and presents and discusses the findings. It includes in-depth discussions of the content and structure of instruction and an overview of how teachers prepare students for the GED exams, classroom processes, forces that shape classroom behaviors, and the conclusions and implications derived from the research.

Cognitive Skills Matter in the Labor Market, Even for School Dropouts. John H. Tyler, Richard J. Murnane, and John B. Willett, NCSALL Report #15, April 2000.
This research report summarizes the research that considers data on dropouts, ages 16-21, from New York and Florida who took GED exams between 1986 and 1990. It determines that the average annual income of young dropouts is low and that for whites and minorities, males and females, skills are an important determinant for earnings. The authors discuss the unique nature and validity of their data and methodological approach and provide detailed data analysis. Data analysis reveals that young dropouts with higher cognitive skills can expect higher annual incomes. Inter-group variation exists as females experience higher economic benefits than males. Minorities, especially those with high skills, can expect greater financial returns than white dropouts. Based on these findings, the authors argue that teachers need to help students develop higher cognitive skills rather than merely prepare them to pass the GED test and they conclude with a proposal for policy changes.

The Devil Is In The Details: Evidence from the GED on the Role of Examination System Details in Determining Who Passes. John H. Tyler, Richard J. Murnane, and John B. Willett, NCSALL Report #16, April 2000.
The researchers use data from the GED certification system to argue that details of the system impact the number of test takers who obtain credentials and the racial/ethnic composition of those who pass. Findings reveal that initial pass rates on GED exams vary greatly by race/ethnicity and by age within race/ethnicity groups with 77% of Caucasian GED candidates, 66% of Hispanic candidates, and 46% of African American candidates passing on the first attempt. When candidates opt to retake tests, 88% of Caucasians, 80% of Hispanics, and 66% of African Americans pass. Based on this data, the authors assert that the retake option is important. No substantial gender differences were noted on initial pass rates although research revealed that males scored lowest on the writing test and females scored lowest on the math test. The authors suggest that these findings have implications for instruction and for how each test is weighted.

Open to Interpretation: Multiple Intelligences Theory in Adult Education—Findings from the Adult Multiple Intelligences Study. Silja Kallenbach and Julie Viens, NCSALL Report #21, May 2002.
This report details the findings of the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) Study, the first systematic effort to investigate how Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory supports assessment and instruction in adult basic education, adult secondary education, and English for speakers of other languages programs. Based on the work of Howard Gardner, MI Theory defines intelligence as "the biological potential to solve problems or make products that are valued in a culture" (Gardner, 1993, 2000). The report describes the theoretical background of the AMI study, MI Theory and the adult literacy education context, and the teacher research process and its results. The document describes the data collection and analysis methods used to integrate two, connected qualitative research projects. The naturalistic approach supports analysis and comparison of applications of MI theory in various contexts. Findings suggest that MI-inspired instructional practices result in high levels of authentic instruction and student engagement. The study also affirms the value of teachers and students working closely to develop metacognitive skills in relation to learning styles. Implications for practice, professional development, assessment, program design, policy, and research are described. Abstracts of the class-based, teacher research projects are included.

The Outcomes and Impacts of Adult Literacy Education in the United States. Hal Beder, NCSALL Report #6, January 1999.
This study investigates outcomes and impacts of participation in adult literacy education through qualitative assessment of outcomes and impacts research conducted since the late 1960's. Outcomes are defined as changes in learners as a result of participation in adult literacy education and impacts are defined as changes that occurred in families and communities as a result of participation. Out of the 115 outcomes and impact studies, the author develops case studies for the 23 research studies determined. The conceptual, design, and methodological flaws of the studies are discussed and the implications for policy are presented. Findings from the studies reveal that students experience likely gains in employment and that participants believe their job opportunities improve over time despite insufficient evidence to verify this belief. Data indicates that participation likely results in learning gains and a positive influence on continued education. Although students in welfare-sponsored adult literacy education reduce welfare dependence, there is inconclusive evidence that participation reduced welfare dependence for adult students in general. Learners perceive an improvement in reading, writing, and math skills but, as measured by tests, evidence to support this is inconclusive. Students entering at the adult secondary education level gain skills to acquire GED credentials. Participation has a positive impact on learners' self-image and parents' involvement in children's education. Learners perceive that they achieved personal goals.

The Outcomes and Impacts of Adult Literacy Education in the United States, Appendix A: Abstracts of Studies Reviewed. Patsy Medina, NCSALL Report #6A, January 1999.
This report includes abstracts of the 23 studies found in NCSALL's The Outcomes and Impacts of Adult Literacy Education in the United States by Hal Beder. The abstracts describe the purpose, variables, population, design, data collection, instrumentation, findings, strengths, and weaknesses of each study.

Persistence among Adult Basic Education Students in Pre-GED Classes. John P. Comings, Andrea Parrella, and Lisa Soricone, NCSALL Report #12, December 1999.
Because pre-GED students usually enroll in programs with goals that require lengthy time commitments, researchers in the first phase of NCSALL's Adult Student Persistence Study investigate factors that promote learner retention by reviewing existing research on learner persistence and motivation, interviewing 150 adult students in New England, and considering practitioner reports on efforts to support learner persistence. In the study, persistence is defined as adults staying in programs for as long as possible, engaging in self-directed study when it is necessary to leave their programs, and returning to programs when possible. The study identifies four primary measures of support—management of positive and negative forces that help or hinder persistence, self-efficacy for reaching goals, establishment of goals by the student, and support for progress toward reaching a goal. This report includes a literature review, a description of research methodology and findings, a discussion of the research findings, and samples of questionnaires used with learners. The report provides useful information for practitioners who would like to learn more about how to support learner persistence and for policymakers concerned with structuring funding and accountability requirements to support persistence. The study also challenges researchers to develop reliable tools for measuring persistence and to identify program and instructional factors that support retention. This comprehensive report includes samples of questionnaires used with learners.



"Adult Literacy and Postsecondary Education Students: Overlapping Populations and Learning Trajectories." Stephen Reder, The Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 1, Chapter 4, 2000.
Reder argues that students in postsecondary education and GED preparation courses need to develop adequate reading, writing, and math skills to prepare them for labor market success. Since higher levels of literacy are equated with higher expected earnings, the author contends that it is important to consider issues around remedial education and to develop improved coordination between basic skills education in postsecondary and adult education programs. Reder uses the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) data to examine the literacy proficiency of postsecondary students and those who have received GED credentials in postsecondary education, to consider the apparent positive impact of postsecondary remedial courses, to examine why GED graduates neither enter nor complete postsecondary education at the same rate as high school graduates, and to compare the experiences of the two groups with remedial education. He surmises that, since more GED recipients than high school graduates participate in remedial education, it may be that those with GED credentials are not as well prepared for postsecondary study.

"Adults with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the Literature." Mary Ann Corley and Julianna M. Taymans, The Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 3, Chapter 3, 2002.
The authors provide a definition of learning disabilities (LD) and review ninety-eight reports outlining what is known about adults with LD and how to serve them. The authors consider assessment issues and the benefits and drawbacks of diagnostic testing. Corley and Taymans argue that the development of self-determination skills is key for success, especially in the workforce, and that it is important that adult students with LD develop metacognitive skills. The authors list principles of effective instruction and explore the role of assistive technology.

"Applying Constructive-Developmental Theories of Adult Development to ABE and ESOL Practices." Deborah Helsing, Eleanor Drago-Severson, and Robert Kegan, Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 4, Chapter 5.
The authors discuss theories of adult development and the implications of these theories for the teaching of ABE and ESOL. After a brief overview of age, or phasic, and gender-based models, the authors focus on constructive-developmental theory, which explores the qualitative differences in the ways in which individuals makes sense of their experience, regardless of age, phase of life, or gender. Helsing and colleagues outline four levels of adult development as generally defined by constructivist-developmental theorists. Helsing and colleagues discuss the value of teachers' understanding learners' different levels of development and suggest approaches (pertaining to the role of the teacher, student assignments, and student interaction) which teachers can take to promote transformational learning for students at differing levels.

"Articulating Learning with EFF Standards." Jane J. Meyer, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue C, September 1999.
The author describes the roles, standards, and generative skills outlined in Equipped for the Future (EFF) and argues that learners are able to see progress towards goals when using these measures as the standards correspond to the use of skills in adult roles. Meyer states that students are able to document and measure progress in meaningful ways and are able to note progress even when they are not achieving their ultimate goal of a GED credential. The author outlines issues involved in implementing the EFF approach. She also describes a method for helping learners document skills for presentation to future employers.

"Changing Approaches to Math.” Cynthia J. Zengler, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998.
The author reflects on how she changed her instructional and assessment approaches to meet the changes in the GED exam. Zengler describes how she introduced the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics' (NCTM) four step, problem-solving model to encourage students to share strategies for solving math problems.

"The Community High School of Vermont." Tom Woods, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue D, August 2005.
Everyone has a right to an education in Vermont, explains Tom Woods, a teacher in the Community High School of Vermont. Read about this school and how it serves its transitory population with a wide range of educational backgrounds and needs.

“A Conversation with FOB…The Best of Both Worlds: Using Individualized and Group Instruction.” Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue C, March 2005.
This learning center tried a few models before settling on a combination of individualized and group instruction. The instructional staff describe the changes the program made and its impact on instruction and student retention when they discontinued the learning lab model.

"A Conversation with FOB…Why Go Beyond the GED?" Focus on Basics, Volume 6, Issue D, February 2004.
Based on his research, Tyler asserts that GED credentials can raise economic earning power but not enough for an individual to move out of poverty. He observes that higher-skilled dropouts, with or without GED certificates, receive better pay than lower-skilled dropouts with GED credentials. Tyler questions how well GED credentials prepare students for college entry and work requirements and argues that programs should concentrate efforts on students with fewer skills because these learners will benefit most from gaining GED credentials. He also proposes that GED programs focus on transitioning students into post-secondary education because that is where students benefit economically from education.

"Culturally Relevant Education." Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue D, August 2005.
In Hawaii, vanessa Helsham uses Hawaiian cultural references and literature in her classes in the Learning Center in teh Halawa Correctional Facility. She also teaches traditional hula dancing and, in her class, rival gangs work together. If you're doing it wrong, in hula, you have to change. It's like life, she explains.

"Describing Program Practice: A Typology across Two Dimensions." Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998.
This article describes the NCSALL research that determines that, of the 271 programs included in the study, 73% of adult basic education (ABE) programs use activities and materials that are not related to learners' lives in classes that are teacher-directed. The researchers develop a typology of programs along two dimensions-contextualized/decontextualized and dialogic/monologic. This research provides information for those interested in actual practices in GED classes and for those interested in implementing changes for improved instruction.

“Differentiated Instruction: Adjusting to the Needs of All Learners.” Mary Ann Corley, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue C, March 2005.
This article defines differentiated instruction and its research base; describes ways in which teachers can differentiate content, process, and product; suggests instructional strategies; and outlines challenges in implementing differentiated instruction.

“Differentiating Instruction for a Multilevel Class.” Catherine Saldana, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue C, March 2005.
Differentiated instruction workshops prompted this teacher to tailor instruction to her students’ interests, abilities, and learning modalities and move from whole group and individualized instruction to small group activities.

"Fast Facts: The GED." Alice Johnson Cain, Focus on Policy, Volume 1, Issue 1, April 2003.
This brief piece provides a factual overview of the structure of the GED.

“Focus on Research…Research Factors That Shape Engagement.” Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue C, March 2005.
The author describes a NCSALL study that explores what factors shape whether ABE students engage in instruction and the relationship between engagement and learner persistence.

“The GED via TV” Molly K. Robertson, Focus on Basics, Volume 8, Issue C, November 2006.
Indiana 's Molly K. Robertson describes GED on TV, a program that provides additional support to Indiana learners who are studying for the GED by watching a television series that helps viewers build the skills they need.

"The GED: Whom Does It Help? Results from a New Approach to Studying the Economic Benefits of the GED." John H. Tyler, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998.
This article summarizes research findings that determined that when young (ages 16-21), white dropouts pass the General Educational Development (GED) exam with marginal scores, they experience a substantial increase in earnings. These findings contrast with many other studies that determine little economic impact. Tyler proposes that passing the GED serves as a sign of higher maturity, motivation, and commitment to work to potential employers. A similar effect for minorities was not observed. Because the average earnings of young, GED graduates are low to begin with, Tyler argues that this increase is not enough for them to move out of poverty. The author suggest s that future research consider the impact of the GED on populations according to gender, age, cultural/racial background, and scores.

"The General Educational Development (GED) Credential: History, Current Research, and Directions for Policy and Practice." John H. Tyler, Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 5, Chapter 3.
The author reviews the recent research on the impact of acquiring a General Educational Development (GED) credential. He first presents a history of the GED credential itself, and its growth and evolution since the 1940s. Then, he describes recent research on the impact of the GED, highlighting four key findings: (1) the GED may encourage some high school students to leave school early; (2) the economic payoff of the GED accrues only to dropouts who leave school with low skills; (3) the economic payoffs to the GED take time to accrue; (4) and postsecondary education and training are fruitful but little-used routes to economic success for GED holders.

"Hooked on Learning: The Internet Poetry Project." Linda W. Parrish, Focus on Basics, Volume 1, Issue D, December 1997.
This practitioner researcher describes her process for using technology and content-based instruction to interest students in writing and reading. Her research results reveal that students become active learners when they develop an enthusiasm for reading and writing poetry and acquired skills required to pass the GED exam.

"Implementation Isn't Easy." Janet Geary, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue A, 2004.
In this article, the director of a GED program with a large percentage of students under 25 years of age, describes her program's efforts to improve retention and the challenges encountered. Through group instruction, individual instruction, project-based learning, and a Youth Cultural Competence curriculum, the author observes how the program evolved into a learning community with improved retention.

"The Inclusion of Numeracy in Adult Basic Education." Dave Tout and Mary Jane Schmitt, The Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 3, Chapter 5.
The authors begin by exploring the many terms used to describe the learning of mathematics by adults. They discuss the relationship between the terms "mathematics" and "numeracy" and explain why numeracy - making meaning with numbers and mathematical processes - is the term they chose for their overview. Moving on to examine adult numeracy education in the U.S, the authors find that little attention is paid to the development of math skills among adults in ABE research but that adult numeracy education is prominent in practice. Tout and Schmitt then look to K-12 math education, highlighting areas of research, including constructivist models, gender and ethnomathematics ("street math"), and note lessons to be drawn from K-12 research on math education.

“Individualized Group Instruction: A Common Model.” Perrine Robinson-Geller, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue C, March 2005.
The author uses the perspectives of the administrator, teacher, and student to describe Individualized Group Instruction, the common ABE classroom model in which learners work independently on assigned workbooks or worksheets with a teacher available to help them as needed. Robinson-Geller also suggests some best practices.

“Instructional Practices of ABE and GED Teachers.” Perrine Robinson-Geller and Anastasiya Lipnevich, Focus on Basics, Volume 8, Issue B, May 2006.
The authors report on a study that provides an initial framework for thinking about instructional practices in adult basic education and GED classrooms. Three types of instructiion—teacher-led basic skills, individualized group instruction basic skills, and meaning making—emerge.

"Is it Time for the Adult Education System to Change Its Goal from High School Equivalency to College Readiness?" Alice Johnson Cain, Focus on Policy, Volume 1, Issue 1, April 2003.
According to a comprehensive research review by Portland State University's Steve Reder, the adult education system should change its goal to successful transition to postsecondary education. This article summarizes the main points of that research and lists policy implications from that review.

“Is the GED an Effective Route to Postsecondary Education? A Conversation with John Tyler.” Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 8, Issue C, November 2006.
Once learners have a GED credential, do they use it to enter postsecondary education? On surveys, many GED test-takers profess a desire to do so, but NCSALL researcher John Tyler finds that only a small percentage actually enroll. While this seems like bad news, Tyler points out that the data come from the period preceding the growing consciousness among adult educators that the GED is not enough. His findings remind us that, to gain more than marginal economic advantage from the GED, ABE needs to strengthen its efforts to move learners into postsecondary education.

"Is the GED Valuable to Those Who Pass It"? Alice Johnson Cain, Focus on Policy, Volume 1, Issue 1, April 2003.
The article provides an overview of three specific research findings from Tyler's work and reports that the GED provides different economic benefits to high school dropouts depending on their academic proficiency when leaving school. Those with low skills who obtain GED credentials can expect substantial economic benefits while those with higher skills may not. The economic benefits associated with the GED are not experienced immediately. Based on Tyler's work, Cain outlines policy implications.

"Lessons from Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children for Adult Learning and Literacy." Catherine E. Snow and John Strucker, The Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 1, Chapter 2, 2000.
The authors outline risk factors identified in children with reading difficulties and compare these characteristics to those of adult literacy students. They provide six case studies of adult learners in which component reading skills (word analysis/phonics, word recognition, spelling, oral reading, silent reading comprehension, and oral vocabulary skills) are tested to identify reading strengths and weaknesses. Adults, like children, require ample opportunities to learn and master alphabetic principles, to develop fluency, and to become enthusiastic readers. All instruction should engage students in meaningful reading activities. It should also address the social risk factors with which adult learners must contend.

"Letter to the Editor." John Tyler, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue C, September 1998.
In response to criticism and issues raised in response to his article, "The GED: Whom Does It Help? Results from a New Approach to Studying the Economic Benefits of the GED" (Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998), Tyler clarifies what his research explains about the impact of GED credentials on the earnings of young, white dropouts, ages 21-26, who passed the test with minimal requirements but not on the earnings of young, minority youth with similar scores. With the data collected, Tyler cannot establish employer discrimination as a factor, but states that this possibility warrants closer examination. Tyler notes that some research indicates that minority dropouts are employed and financially rewarded in jobs where skills matter. Due to the design of data collection for GED candidates, he explains that his data is limited to two categories, white and minority.

"MI, the GED, and Me." Martha Jean, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue A, March 1999.
The teacher researcher asks whether GED-based, multiple intelligences (MI)-informed activities would help students use their intelligences as learners and GED test-takers. This study focused on two classes, one in which the author implements MI-informed activities, and the second a traditional GED class. The author discovers the importance of allowing students to choose from a menu of activities and develops "Choose 3" lessons in which students select three activities. The author determines that, by providing these options, students are able to use their strongest intelligences and notes increased student involvement and improved attendance and retention for all students, including those with learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD).

"A Mingling of Minds: Collaboration and Modeling as Transformational Teaching Techniques." Carol Eades, Focus on Basics, Volume 5, Issue B, October 2001.
The author outlines the differences between informational and transformational teaching and describes how she teaches for transformation in a GED class by modeling and encouraging collaborative problem-solving. Eades argues that this approach, which develops social cooperation and individual and group responsibility for learning, shifts learners’ perspectives about knowledge.

"A Model for Adult Education-to-Postsecondary Transition Programs." Alice Johnson Cain, Focus on Policy, Volume 1, Issue 1, April 2003.
Cain describes the New England ABE-to-College Transition Project, sponsored by the New England Literacy Resource Center, as an example of a program designed to help students transition from GED to postsecondary courses, a need identified through Reder's research. This transition project serves 700 students in six states through free, pre-college reading, writing, and math courses and education and career counseling. Students in these programs, which collaborate with postsecondary educational institutions, are also supported by peer mentors and participation in college survival and study skills courses.

"The Process of Passing the GED." Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998.
The author provides an overview of research conducted by John Tyler that considers which GED tests cause the most difficulty, for whom the option of retesting is significant, and who is the most affected by raised passing scores. Tyler finds that women experienced the most difficulty passing the math exam while the writing exam causes problems for men. African Americans also have difficulty with the math exam and benefit ed from the retesting option.

"A Productive Partnership." Richard J. Murnane and Bob Bickerton, Focus on Basics, Volume 1, Issue A, February 1997.
A researcher and an ABE administrator write about a NCSALL study that raises questions about the value of the GED credential. The authors determine that, when reading the full reports, it becomes clear that some findings are open to interpretation. Murnane and Bickerton advise that, when researching and reading a report, it is important to clarify what questions are being asked, identify the sample and comparison groups, and consider the time period of the study. The authors suggest that it may be necessary to revise the GED to assure employers that workers with GED credentials possess adequate skills to meet new labor requirements. Murnane and Bickerton conclude that the field of adult education can benefit from dialogue among practitioners, researchers, and policy makers.

"Project-based Learning and the GED." Anson M. Green, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998.
The author describes how the Project FORWARD life skills curriculum is used with a GED class to encourage student collaboration as participants work towards their academic and life goals. The author observes that project-based learning prepares students for the GED and helps learners develop a strong sense of personal responsibility, a solid self-image, and good interpersonal skills while learning relevant material.

"Research in Writing: Implications for Adult Literacy Education." Marilyn K. Gillespie, The Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 2, Chapter 3, 2001.
The author reviews research on writers' processes, the writing process and alternative theories, a sociocontextual view of writing, the influence of New Literacy Studies on writing, composing in a second language, handwriting and spelling, studies of the social contextual nature of adult literacy education, writing research in practice, the impact of writing research on adult literacy education, what research reveals about the focus on mechanics in adult literacy, the importance of learning academic writing skills for post-secondary education, and writing skills for employment. Gillespie explores promising trends such as project-based instruction, writing in authentic contexts as outlined in Equipped for the Future, and technology-based communication.

"Retention and the GED." Jamie D. Barron Jones, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998.
Despite efforts to make class comfortable for students, the author notes high levels of attrition in the GED class. Barron engages in action research to explore whether retention would be improved by using interviews and creative writing assignments to identify barriers to attendance and thus provide referrals to services addressing these barriers. The author notes significantly improved retention and increased skill levels.

"Separate Yet Happy." Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue A, June 2004.
This account describes how one community-college-based GED program designs a separate class for learners ages 16–21 years. The class integrates activities based on Adult Multiple Intelligences theory with positive results.

"Shaping and Sustaining Learner Engagement in Individualized Group Instruction Classrooms." Hal Beder, Focus on Basics, Volume 8, Issue B, May 2006.
Researchers at the NCSALL Labsite for Adult Literacy Education at Rutgers University suggest that learners' engagement is shaped by three primary factors: the instructional system, teachers' behavior in the role of Individualized Group Instruction (IGI) instructor, and classroom norms.

"The Spanish GED: The Door to Opportunity in Doña Ana County." Anastasia K. Cotton and Bertha Cantú-Lujá, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue B, June 1998.
The authors describe the requirements of the Spanish version of the GED exam in New Mexico and how students prepare for it. The authors also explain why students choose to take the exam in Spanish.

"Teaching to the Math Standards with Adult Learners." Esther D. Leonelli, Focus on Basics, Volume 3, Issue C, September 1999.
Leonelli advocates for standards-based teaching of mathematics and numeracy with less direct instruction and drill and more modeling of math behaviors through use of authentic and interesting applications. In this article, the author outlines the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards and frameworks that address the diversity of cultural backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities of ABE learners. Leonelli provides examples of concrete, hands-on activities that she uses with success in her math classes and considers some of the challenges teachers and students may face when confronted with the time constraints of preparing for the GED.

"Time to Reframe Politics and Practices in Correctional Education." Stefan LoBuglio, The Annual Review of Adult Literacy and Learning, Volume 2, Chapter 4, 2001.
The author argues for the social benefits of correctional education programs and provides an overview of the politics and practices of these programs. The chapter describes the structure of corrections and its population, the literacy needs of offenders, and issues of concern in correctional education. The author also reviews existing research on adult education in correctional facilities and considers whether this reduces recidivism. LoBuglio describes some noteworthy correctional programs, argues for inmate accountability, and offers recommendations for policy, practice, and research.

"Turning Obstacles into Opportunities." Deborah L. Johnson, Focus on Basics, Volume 2, Issue D, December 1998.
This article describes project-based learning in which students in an urban setting identified and explored problems in their communities and the process that leads them to educate junior high students about these issues. The author claims that, through this process, the students develop many skills but first need to acknowledge their own personal issues.

"What Are the Economic Effects of Earning a GED in Prison?" Barbara Garner, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue D, August 2005.
NCSALL researcher John Tyler finds among racial and ethnic minority offenders—primarily African-Americans, with a smaller number of Hispanics—a 20 percent increase in the earnings among GED holders relative to non-GED holders in the first post-release year. That transition year is crucial, so this is good news. However, these effects diminish over time and are not found for white ex-offenders.

"The Year 1998 in Review." Fran Tracy-Mumford, The Annual Review of Adult Literacy and Learning, Volume 1, Chapter 1, 2000.
This chapter reviews national and state standards, curriculum changes, use of technology, and professional development issues in adult education as well as the adult learner leadership movement and national initiatives during 1998. In one section, the author provides an overview of the GED 2000 and reviews accommodation policies for students with learning disabilities who wish to take the GED test.

"Youth in Adult Literacy Education Programs." Elisabeth Hayes, The Annual Review of Adult Literacy and Learning, Volume 1, Chapter 3, 2000.
The author argues that students, ages 16-17, raise unique issues and challenges for adult education programs. The author reviews adult literacy enrollment and dropout data and GED testing data to demonstrate the trend toward higher youth enrollments in adult literacy education and considers the educational and economic factors contributing to this trend. Hayes explores how programs are currently serving this population and examines whether they are successful in helping youth obtain GED credentials. The chapter concludes with policy and research recommendations.

"Youth in ABE: The Numbers." Jennifer Roloff Welch and Kathrynn Di Tommaso, Focus on Basics, Volume 7, Issue A, June 2004.
The authors examine the data that documents a slight rise in the percentage of youth in ABE programs and the related data that provides possible explanations. They determine that the average age for those taking the GED tests is younger and that 41% of GED candidates are youths (ages 16-24), while the other 59% of candidates are spread amongst ages 25-70. Since youth in GED programs present distinct issues and challenges, the authors argue that it will be important to standardize age ranges in reporting so that these trends can be accurately studied and the cause and effect can be investigated.


Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL