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Adult Basic Education - Update on Massachusetts High School Equivalency Testing

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
September 16, 2016


The Department's Office of Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) oversees the administration of a high school equivalency assessment through a network of 27 local testing centers, located in adult learning centers, community colleges, and public schools. An individual who achieves a passing score on the assessment earns a Massachusetts High School Equivalency Credential, which is accepted by many employers and institutions of higher education as equivalent to a high school diploma.

Since January 2014, Massachusetts has used the HiSET test, a product of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), to assess high school equivalency. During that time over 7,000 adults have earned their equivalency credentials. However, our contract with ETS expires on December 31, 2016. This summer, the Department held an open procurement to select a test vendor or vendors for Massachusetts for 2017 through 2020. A request for responses (RFR) was issued in July, indicating the potential that more than one vendor may be selected. Proposals were submitted by ETS, GED Testing Service, and Data Recognition Corporation. I have reviewed the results of the procurement process, which included a review from internal and external context experts, and I have asked Department staff to enter into contract negotiations with the two higher scoring vendors, ETS and the GED Testing Service, to offer high school equivalency assessments in Massachusetts.

Offering two tests will facilitate a smooth transition into 2017 for both current and new testers, provide testers with multiple testing options, broaden opportunities for support from a wider range of employer partnerships, and provide an incentive for each vendor to keep testing costs affordable. In addition, the two tests complement each other nicely: the GED has a robust computer-based delivery system, employing many technology-enhanced items, while the HiSET has a proven record of delivering paper-based tests in the volume still required by many Massachusetts testers and test centers. Currently 16 states offer multiple assessments for high school equivalency.

If you have any questions, please contact Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner at 781-338-3222; Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner at 781-338-6500; or me.

Last Updated: September 23, 2016
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