Background of GED

Literacy Problem

At least 20 to 30 million Americans are seriously handicapped because they lack adequate basic skills to perform their jobs and in their everyday lives. The adult literacy problem in the United States is monumental and sums it up: “by most measures, at least 20 to 30 million adults do not have the basic skills required to function effectively in our society and a large portion of them suffer from economic and social distress that reasonably can be related to their lack of basic skills”. These staggering statistics pose humanitarian, civic and economic concerns for the nation.

Economic Future

Our nation’s economic future depends to a very significant extent on whether we can improve the basic skills of today’s adults and whether we can do it soon. This is probably the most compelling stake individuals have in the literacy problem. There is evidence that Americans are attempting to improve their basic skills. In 1995, the American Council on Education (ACE) reported that one out of seven high school credentials issued in the United States is a General Educational Development (GED) diploma. Annually, over 700,000 adults attempt to earn a GED diploma. The statistics are alarming, but the stories behind the statistics reveal why so many Americans are earning GEDs.

GED Items reports a story about a young girl who leaves school, abandoning her dreams to be a teacher or a secretary, to nurse a dying mother, tend to her father, mother her baby sister and run the household. By the time the young girl turns 17; she experiences her mother’s death, gives birth to a son, and marries a truck driver. She later gives birth to another child, but before her children reach adulthood, her husband dies. While trying to raise her children as a single parent, she experiences kidney failure and is placed on dialysis for six years until she was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant. Her struggle continued as she found ways to pay for her medication. Realizing she needed a good job in order to pay for her medication, she decided to take the advice she had always given her children about getting a good education. And, in April of 1994, she passed the GED tests and earned a GED diploma.

GED Testing Service

According to the GED Testing Service, the real stories, like the one cited above, are in the people it serves. For these individuals, the GED tests are truly a second chance. Each story, however, reveals the diversity of individuals who want to complete their high school education. Some individuals need the GED to obtain a job or a job promotion; some are young high school dropouts, some are much older, and some pursue the GED to be a role model for their own children or grandchildren to encourage them to stay in school.

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