The administrators of the Monroe County Adult and Alternative Education program have a message for students currently enrolled in a General Education Development (GED) program: Finish it up before the end of the year.
That's because as of January 2014, the rules will be changing, and any students who haven't finished their tests will have to start fresh, under the new guidelines and requirements.
"The current version of the GED test is expiring at the end of 2013 and your scores will expire too if you don't finish and pass the GED test by then," program coordinators said in a recent email blast. "If you act soon, you won't have to re-take the parts of the GED test you've already passed."
At present, GED testing is paper-based. By January, it will be a computer-based, online process. Also there will only be four tests required to receive the GED, instead of the current five.
"We're trying to get the publicity out," said Carly Gordon, a school counselor and the district's chief GED examiner. "What people need to understand is that the 2002 version we have been working with is going to be null and void. They must pass the 2002 version before January of 2014, or they'll have to start over again with the 2014."
The GED test procedure itself is about to change, according to Gordon.
"Right now people can take it online through a Pearson VUE test center, or they can take it with me at the Key West center," she said. "As of next January, students will need to take their GED test through a Pearson VUE center, at FKCC. GED classes will still be taught by us, but the test will be given through FKCC."
Pearson VUE is a high-security computer testing environment that must meet strict guidelines to become established.
The college has had the room for more than four years now, and has recently begun to offer the 2002 GED test there.
Adult and Alternative Education moved to the FKCC campus from Key West High School in August. Current director Melanie Stefanowicz assumed her post in July.
Though the program has locations throughout the Keys, in-person testing is only offered in Key West.
In addition to GED, Adult Education teachers offer English as a second language, cosmetology programs, and adult high school diplomas. At present neither four-year Florida colleges nor the military will accept a GED certificate.
"Call or come in and we'll get you going with this," Gordon said. "Some people may need to take some courses before they're ready for the test itself. We really want to make sure that the affected people complete the test before the new version kicks in."
For more information, contact one of the offices below:
• Key West: FKCC, Room A-124, 5901 College Road, Stock Island; 305-293-1400, ext. 54327
• Middle Keys: 3400 Overseas Highway, Marathon; 305-289-2388, ext. 59376
• Upper Keys: 91641 Overseas Highway, Tavernier; 305-853-3222, ext. 56385