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GED is G-O-N-E in Massachusetts

Posted on February 5, 2014

Massachusetts employers accustomed to hiring people with the General Education Development (GED) high school equivalency certificate should be aware that the GED has been replaced in the Bay State.

GEDTaking the place of the GED in Massachusetts and at least 10 other states is the new HiSET exam administer by Educational Testing Service (ETS). Those who pass the test qualify for the Massachusetts High School Equivalency Certificate, a meaningful academic credential available to adults over 18 years old and to 16- and 17-year-olds who are no longer enrolled in school. Each year some 11,000 Massachusetts residents seek the certificate, which is well known to employers and colleges.

What happened? The American Council on Education, which created the GED in 1942, turned it over to a joint venture with Pearson LLC, which introduced an entirely new, computer-based version that was more complex and more expensive. ETS, in association with Iowa Testing Programs, launched a competing assessment, as did CTB/McGraw Hill LLC.

States made their individual choices (some support more than one test) based largely on their delivery systems and funding mechanisms. Massachusetts, which utilizes a network of independent local testing centers and requires test-takers to pay fees, contracted with ETS for three years (2014-2016).

HiSET includes assessments in language arts, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science. To ensure that the test measures academic knowledge and proficiency equivalent to those of a high-school graduate, it is aligned with essential components of the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for schools, and is moving towards full alignment. HiSET is offered in English and Spanish.

Employers should be aware that job applicants coming from other states may have taken different tests. In the northeast, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Jersey, like Massachusetts, use HiSET; Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont chose the new GED; and New York went with CTB/McGraw Hill. Each of the competing tests represents a step forward in rigor beyond the old GED.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and adult education providers across the state are scrambling to implement HiSET on a tight schedule. General information about the assessment may be found at Specific information about the Massachusetts program will appear at as it becomes available.