Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 4, 2008

New state law allows West Virginians to pursue GED

PRINCETON — People who didn’t finish high school now have the opportunity to take the GED test free of charge, and 16- to 18-year-olds who dropped out of school recently can now take it much sooner, thanks to a new West Virginia law.

The GED testing fee used to be $50, a sum many people with low incomes couldn’t pay, said Coordinator Marcie Ware of the Mercer County Academy of Adult Learning. This was particularly true when more than one member of a family wanted to get a GED.

“Very much so. You wouldn’t believe how much of an obstacle it is,” Ware said. “It (new law) is going to save a lot of money for people.”

As of July 1, the General Educational Development (GED) test is now free in West Virginia. In order qualify for the free GED testing, candidates must pass the Official GED Practice Tests with a minimum score of 410 on each subject area and a total of 2,250 points as evidenced by written documentation from an adult basic education (ABE) instructor.

Classes at the academy and the GED Practice Tests are free, Ware added.

“All of it is at no cost except for the transportation to and from here,” she said.

Another part of the new law now allows recent high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 18 to take the test within a month after leaving school. They also must take the GED Practice Tests. Written documentation indicating the withdrawal date is required from the principal, counselor or attendance officer of the last school the candidate attended.

Studies across the nation indicate that if 16-year-olds do not return to classes, “they find something else to get into and don’t go back to school,” Ware said, adding that the age group is better off if they stay in high school and graduate instead of dropping out to get a GED.

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