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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on the Massachusetts High School Equivalency Testing, HiSET™

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
March 14, 2014

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The Department's Office of Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) oversees the administration of a high school equivalency assessment through a network of 28 local testing centers, located in adult learning centers, community colleges, and public schools. A passing score on the assessment earns a Massachusetts high school equivalency credential, which is widely accepted by employers and institutions of higher education in lieu of a high school diploma.

For many years, Massachusetts used the General Educational Development (GED) assessment from the American Council on Education (ACE). ACE is a national non-profit organization of college and university presidents. ACE first developed the GED assessment in 1942, to provide a route for returning veterans who had not completed high school to establish their readiness for college or employment.

In 2011, ACE and Pearson LLC created a joint venture, GED Testing Service, to assume responsibility for the administration of the GED assessment. GED Testing Service subsequently announced that the existing GED assessment would not be offered after December 2013 and would be replaced by an entirely new test. In response to this development, and recognizing that the GED was not the only high school equivalency assessment available on the market, we decided to hold an open procurement to select a test vendor for Massachusetts for the next three years. A request for responses (RFR) was issued last August, and proposals were submitted by GED Testing Service, Educational Testing Service (ETS), and McGraw-Hill. We selected the HiSET™ test offered by ETS as our new high school equivalency assessment.

ETS is a highly regarded, non-profit testing organization that offers a variety of assessment programs, including the GRE and TOEFL assessments. ETS also provides services to the U.S. Department of Education for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and to the College Board for the SATs, AP exams, and other assessments.

ACLS staff, assisted by the Department's legal office, has been working with ETS and our test centers to finalize the contract and transition to the new assessments. This effort includes updating our test administration policies; establishing a new fee schedule; providing training and assistance to test center staff; and preparing informational materials for test takers. The new assessment will be offered in both computer and paper versions, so we have also been working with our test centers on technology infrastructure issues. These preparations are nearing an end, and we expect to begin the new test administration within the next few weeks.

Test takers who choose to purchase the full battery HiSET™ test (which includes five individual tests) will pay $100. Alternatively, test takers may purchase each test separately, at a cost of $29 for the first test and $24 for the remaining four tests (a total of $125). Test takers will be able to register on-line through the HiSET™ website.

At the Board meeting on March 25, ACLS Acting Director Jolanta Conway will brief you on our test policies and our transition to the new high school equivalency assessment. She will be joined by a representative from ETS, who will present more detailed information on the HiSET™ test.



Last Updated: March 3, 2014
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