2013 October 20 Sunday
GED Exams Going To Get Harder

A New York Times has an article about making the general educational development (GED) . Of course the very first sentence leads with concerns over the negative impacts of these state-level policy changes on the down trodden. Any future Turing Machine designed to generate articles for the New York Times will need to be programmed to heavily accentuate worries about impacts on designated victim classes in most paragraphs. The trick is mix in some facts so the reader feels informed, but not so many that the most salient truth is obvious. Interleave the facts with the politically correct schadenfreude and you've got yourself a New York Times article.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. ó The high school equivalency exams taken by people who dropped out of school and immigrants seeking a foothold in the American education system are about to get harder and potentially more expensive, causing concern that fewer will take and pass the exams.

Click thru and read the whole article. What's missing from this predictably doctrinally liberal New York Times take on GED certificates and the job market? A discussion of controlling for intelligence when comparing GED holders, high school grads, and college grads. Controlling for intelligence would throw a very different (and useful!) light on the value of a GED. But we live in a society where the elephant in the room is steadfastly ignored by the absurd mainstream media.

GED holders make less money than high school grads. Suppose this result was controlled for IQ test results. I bet the gap would shrink. But GED holders have lower conscientiousness. So they would likely do worse even with the same average IQ.

A five-year study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that a 20-percent income gap may exist between a recipient of a General Education Development credential and a high school diploma.

Of course. The same qualities that make one less likely to graduate high school also make one less effective in the work force.

The Census Bureau paints an even bleaker picture of the difference between high school grads and GED holders. Partly that's because a much higher percentage of high school grads go on to college. In other words, high school grads are smarter and more persistent than GED holders.

In 2009, 16.9 million adults earned a GED certificate to satisfy their high school requirements. While 73 percent of those who received a high school diploma went on to complete at least some postsecondary education, less than half (43 percent) of GED certificate recipients did so. Furthermore, only 5 percent earned a bachelorís degree or higher. In contrast, of high school diploma holders, 33 percent earned this level of education.

GED certificate holders had lower earnings than those who earned a regular high school diploma regardless of sex, race and ethnicity or age. Overall, high school diploma holders earned approximately $4,700 in mean monthly earnings compared with GED certificate holders, who earned $3,100.

I am in favor of a proliferation of standardized tests to demonstrate how smart you are and how much you know. Give employers more and stronger signals. Also, give yourself a better measure of how much you've learned so far and what are your weak areas.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 October 20 10:19 AM 

WJ said at October 20, 2013 11:22 AM:

"In 2009, 16.9 million adults earned a GED certificate to satisfy their high school requirements."

Somehow, I doubt that over 5% of Americans earned GEDs in a single year. That's around one-fourth of our entire K-12 population.

Many GEDs are earned by convicts cooling their heels in prison and jail. Absent the temptations on the outside, these men are able to demonstrate some small amount of initiative that will probably elude them when they return to society. They will also return to the workforce (assuming they bother) with criminal records. That's two reasons that GEDs don't, on average, confer much financial benefit.

Aside from GEDs, this country truly needs nationwide standards for honors diplomas which distinguish mere high school graduates from these who have displayed some amount of intelligence and initiative, and acquired actual skills while in H.S. We will never be able to significantly increase graduation requirements, because that would increase dropout rates and La Raza and the NAACP would throw a fit. But we can create a credential that distinguishes their children from ours without referencing race.

RD said at October 20, 2013 3:26 PM:

getting herder!!! ged is alrady herd as Hell!!

Randall Parker said at October 20, 2013 7:30 PM:


Just one state could take a really innovative approach: Copy the Boy Scouts with their merit badges. Instead of just one big certificate come up with certificates for a wide variety of competencies and let high school kids take tests for these certificates. Offer them at community colleges too. Lots of those competencies will necessarily be heavily g loaded. But others could just be physical skills or a demonstrate of memorizing some body of knowledge.

An innovative approach wouldn't make anyone any smarter. But it would provide some kids who have initiative with ways to try to stand out and be noticed as conscientious and motivated skill accumulators.

James Bowery said at October 20, 2013 8:27 PM:

RP optimistically writes: "But GED holders have lower conscientiousness."

That holds true so long as the public education system isn't too traumatizing to conscientious students.

What if a young Randall Parker conscientiously pointed out various inconvenient truths in one of today's public schools? Might he become so alienated that he would become an autodidact and avoid the mind-warping social pressures of complying with the requirements for graduation?

We're already there -- particularly with the resources for self-education now available.

WJ said at October 20, 2013 8:50 PM:

"Just one state could take a really innovative approach: Copy the Boy Scouts with their merit badges."

High school graduates need a way to prove they acquired certain skills - some uniform system that works across state boundaries - but they also need a way to prove general merit, too - similar to the difference between Latin honors (cum laude, etc.) and a major. This might help reduce the tendency of businesses to require college degrees in professions where they're completely unnecessary. Ideally, a high school graduate from one state should be able to take his magna cum laude diploma to a job interview in another state and not have to explain what that means.

Engineer-Poet said at October 21, 2013 5:22 AM:

"Merit badges" = "credit by exam"

John Cunningham said at October 21, 2013 1:39 PM:

the classic NY Times headline of all time is "Huge Asteroid about to Strike the Earth and Destroy Human Race; Women and Minorities Hardest Hit"
there is already a Thomas Friedman Column Generator at http://thomasfriedmanopedgenerator.com/about.php
It should be easy for a skilled geek to set up a NY Times column engine.

and be careful, Mr. Parker, your recent posts reek of Crimethought and Hatethink, you are cruising close to Steve Sailer territory...

James Bowery said at October 21, 2013 2:39 PM:

Coincidentally, this article just appeared in Wired:

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

In the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, Mitra conducted experiments in which he gave children in India access to computers. Without any instruction, they were able to teach themselves a surprising variety of things, from DNA replication to English.

Thatís why a new breed of educators, inspired by everything from the Internet to evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and AI, are inventing radical new ways for children to learn, grow, and thrive. To them, knowledge isnít a commodity thatís delivered from teacher to student but something that emerges from the studentsí own curiosity-fueled exploration. Teachers provide prompts, not answers, and then they step aside so students can teach themselves and one another. They are creating ways for children to discover their passionóand uncovering a generation of geniuses in the process.

Randall Parker said at October 24, 2013 10:59 PM:

James Bowery,

Very bright kids will benefit from online lectures, tests, and the like. Less bright kids, well not so much or not at all.

Anything that makes learning faster will increase the differences in outcomes as a function of IQ.

Anthony said at October 25, 2013 8:19 AM:

Does the GSS have information about GEDs? If so, it should be possible to check the IQ hypothesis. The GSS has wordsum score, a passable proxy for IQ, and I believe has some way of filtering out ex-convicts.

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