As a huge shift approaches for students who are looking to earn GEDs, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced Thursday a few smaller changes to the system designed to help them.
GED Plus, the name given to the city’s preparation programs for students, was about to become an awkward moniker when the GED stops being administered in New York next year. Though that exam that has long been synonymous with a high school equivalency credential, the state will begin giving a new Common Core-aligned exam with a different name in 2014.
So starting January 1, the student centers will be known as Pathways to Graduation, Walcott announced today. Five of those 62 locations will also host staff members from the Office of Adult and Continuing Education, allowing at least some of the students who age out of the Pathways to Graduation centers the chance to stay put as they continue trying to pass the exam.
For the thousands of students enrolled right now, the name change also reflects their deadline for passing all of the GED’s five component tests before the January switch to a new exam. At that point, students who had already passed portions of the GED exam will have to start from scratch.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the GED Plus programs have served about 8,500 students per year for the last six years, but could not say on Thursday how many students have only passed a portion of the exam. (In 2011, a report from the Center for an Urban Future showed that the passing rate for the GED citywide was only 48.1 percent, compared to 66.9 percent for the rest of the state.)
At the 35th Street Alternative Education Complex on Thursday, Walcott told a class of students taking a practice exam that he had a son and daughter who both earned GEDs, before wishing them good luck and heading out.
“I felt really good because they all gave me evil looks, and that’s a good sign, because they were so serious and so intense preparing that they were like, who is this guy coming in and interrupting me?” he said at the press conference later.
Twenty-year-old Malik Peterson—who found out that he had earned his GED this week—was a bit more responsive to the chancellor’s visit, exuberantly informing Walcott of his results in the hallway before requesting multiple pictures with the outgoing schools chief. “For Instagram,” he explained.