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The Sound of Ideas

A Forked Road to Graduating High School

Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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The GED is a second chance for high school dropouts to earn the equivalent of a diploma and give themselves a chance to pursue a better life. But a new study suggests that the GED is not the same as four years of high school. It doesn't boost recipients' income and precious few achieve higher degrees. On the next Sound of Ideas, a closer look at the GED program in Ohio, what it measures and whether the test earns a passing grade. Join us Tuesday morning at 9:00.


Economy, Help Wanted, Education


Nicholas S. Mader, University of Chicago, co-author, The GED
Belinda Richardson, director,Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) program, Cuyahoga Community College
Eugene Miller, GED recipient and member of Cleveland City Council

Additional Information

Sample GED questions, courtesy, American Council on Education

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Toni 10:19 AM 7/13/10

I definitely want to comment on this subject because it is so dear to my heart. Just like a previous caller, I too am a tutor and I have been instructing students on Math (where they spend a lot of time), Reading and Writing.

There are definite skills the GED student does not have which are logic and life skills. They look to the tutors to provide all the answers instead of trying to “logically” think through the problems. I love being a tutor and I try to instill certain skills from my students in trying to get them to think through the basics. It all depends on the student. Some students grasp the concepts easily others have a very hard time. 

The GED is a wonderful program but there needs to be more skills integrated such as computer skills and critical thinking in mastering certain problems (math, reading comprehension).

Great program & Thanks for providing an eye opening view of literacy.

John 3:50 PM 7/13/10

At the end of WWII the GED was implemented to help GI’s take advantage of the GI Bill and receive a college education.  It was an effective tool then.  The thing to remember is that a high school diploma, at the time, was the only education most people needed to become successful in life.  It prepared them adequately for roles in business, manufacturing, public service.  In fact, in many cases, high school was the only ticket required for achieving the American dream.  In some cases, even that was optional.  All of us have stories of parents and grandparents or other relatives of that generation quitting school to support their families and being quite successful at it. 

Fast forward 50 years.  In more recent times, the high school diploma has lost its value. That’s particularly true in the Cleveland school system. In fact, I’d dare to say that a Bachelor’s degree is the practical equivalent of a 1940’s high school diploma. So, it should be of little surprise that the GED is equally of little value on the road to life success.  The “High School Equivalency Exam,” as it was often referred to, is simply that: the equivalency of something that has also lost much of its value.

Finally the GED is dissapointing recipients, in part, due to the way it is marketed.  It’s often referred to as the “key to success” for those without a diploma.  It isn’t that.  Successful completion of the test is more like moving from the “GO” square on a Monopoly board to “Mediterranean Avenue”. One space.  It is simply a ticket to begin the road to a basic life education, be that in college or the world of work.  Unfortunately, since GED recipients have an average age in their mid-20’s, they may not be able to support their families at the kind of wages paid to beginners in any industry. The GED isn’t failing in a vacuum. 

An interesting side note:  Around 80% of Ohio inmates do not have a high school diploma or GED. 20% of those released each year return to their homes in Cuyahoga County.  In fact, “Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) reports reveal that 30% of the male population and 20% of the female population function below a 6.0 reading level and are considered functionally illiterate”.  Source ODRC 2009 Annual Report (

Scary, isn’t it.


John Russell

Reggie 3:53 PM 7/13/10

I obtained my GED in my twenties. I left high school to pursue a career in the US Navy. this happened in the late 1970s. I worked for many years, moved away from Cleveland and while working with no High School diploma I moved back to Cleveland, and as I stated before I decided to take the GED, after owning my own company in the 1990s I felt I was missing something, I should have mentioned before that I obtained my GED from Tri-c, In 2003, after dissolution of my business, due to economic factors, I made one of the best decisions of my life and went to Tri-c obtained my Associates, then I went on to obtain my BA from CSU and then I went on to recently obtain my MBA from CSU’s Executive MBA Program in May 2010, and it goes back to me obtaining my GED from Tri-c. Currently, I am in my early fifties and I have decided to make a career change. I will also be pursuing another Master’s in Health Care Administration at CSU and I look forward to the challenges and new career that awaits me, hopefully!!!

Thanks for the topic!
Reggie Arnold, MBA


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