GED test refinements boost Kenbridge truck driver graduate

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

When Richard “Scott” Williams first enrolled in the adult education program at Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC), the curriculum involved mainly paper and pencil exercises.

This included homework, quizzes and tests (including the GED assessment) for learners like him who sought career certifications, job recommendations or entry to college.

As the 45-year-old began his twice-a-week classes at the Ripberger Public Library in Kenbridge, the demands for qualified workers to acquire advanced “global” knowledge expanded.  State agencies, such as the Virginia Community College System and its institutions (including SVCC), as well as the GED Testing Service and its competitors, responded vigorously to these demands.

The answer was to offer new and more efficient programs to tap the labor potential of out-of-school youth and adults who lacked their full formal educations.

Thus, as Scott progressed, his classes began to emphasize computer-based learning for high school equivalency, while the state and others offered a number of focused opportunities to infuse work-specific study and basic workplace skills into his adult courses.

He took advantage of one of these, the Plugged-In Virginia Program, at the SVCC/Occupational-Technical Center’s Truck Driver Training School, Fort Pickett, in fall semester 2014.

Plugged-In Virginia (PIVA) is a career pathway workforce development curriculum that combines a student’s pursuit of the GED credential (or improving his/her basic skills) with professional training and the earning of multiple certifications.

These include a digital literacy certificate, the Virginia Class-A Commercial Driving License, the Entry-Level Truck Driver Training Certificate, and the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC).

The CRC is a state-awarded “portable credential that provides evidence in three key areas — applied math, reading for information and locating information — that its holder is ready for work with respect to fundamental standards of workforce literacy.” Williams earned his CRC that fall, and through PIVA achieved his college-credited Truck Driving Career Studies certificate in spring 2015.

He was named to the Provost’s List for academic merit at SVCC. He furthermore received the coveted Randy Johnson Award, presented to singularly worthy truck driver students that best demonstrate good attitude, display flexibility, practice safety and evince the importance of teamwork in the industry.

In the meantime, he continued to rise to the highest levels in his adult education classes and passed three of the four GED tests he needed to complete the program. His pursuit of the fourth test placed him on the cusp of success and graduation.

He needed to elevate his final math score by only a few points (via one or two more correct answers) to close out testing. Work demands and a promotion caused him to discontinue attending classes.

And there his GED prospects stood, until Feb. 2. On that day, the Virginia Department of Education accepted this year’s GED Testing Services findings which slightly lowered the pass score/high school equivalency level of its tests. State approval of this change instantly added some 650 adult learners to Virginia’s ranks of “GED graduates,” including Williams.

The test refinement resulted from a detailed Testing Service analysis that compared GED program graduates with their high school counterparts over the past 18 months.

Other changes included adding a new “GED College Ready” indicator at 165 points or above; and creating a “GED College Ready + Credits” scoring range of 175-200 points.

The testing service also removed its former “Pass with Honors” category. The company’s analysis also eliminated the extended response requirement from the Social Studies test, and reduced its duration to 75 minutes.

These GED Test recalibrations elevated 45 SVCC recent “near passing” tests to successfully passed, including for 27 students in addition to Scott who thereby achieved their full GED credentials.

Persons interested in enrolling in free SVCC adult education classes in the 10-county service area (Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Mecklenburg and Prince Edward) may call Lois Hicks at (434) 736-2048 for information.

Enrollment occurs during class hours at each site the last full week of each month.

Students will be instructed toward basic literacy and/or their GED credential, digital literacy, the CRC and workplace “soft skills.” Persons interested in the SVCC PIVA Truck Driving Program may contact Norman Davis at (434) 292-5035 (work) or (434) 755-5769 (cell).