Advancing towards an Enlightened Future
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Advancing towards an Enlightened Future

Sarita Parikh, Senior Director, Student Engagement and Strategy, GED Testing Service
Sarita Parikh, Senior Director, Student Engagement and Strategy, GED Testing Service

Sarita Parikh, Senior Director, Student Engagement and Strategy, GED Testing Service

While most discussions around education are focused on K-12 and higher education, there is a less discussed, often forgotten, in-between group: the 30 million American adults, who do not have a high school diploma. Often, these adults are tackling the very real responsibilities of families and income, but have not yet attained a credential that is a fundamental requirement for most of the jobs providing family-sustaining wages.

Adults without high school diplomas are often mired in a persistent cycle: lack of educational attainment perpetuates generational poverty. Over eighty percent of children whose parents do not have a high school diploma live in low-income families according to the National Center for Children in Poverty. Americans without a high school credential commonly lack the skills necessary to earn family-sustaining incomes. The unemployment rate for this group is the highest in the nation and they find themselves in low-skilled, low-paid jobs, often the first to be affected by economic downturns.

At the same time, the middle-skill job market, jobs that require more than a high school diploma or GED credential but less than a four-year college degree, where the average salary is $55,000, has more open positions than qualified people to fill them. Over half of today’s middle-skill jobs require more than a high school credential, but not as much as a four-year degree. Many employers struggle with the inadequate supply of labor to fill these middle-skill jobs.

  In addition to supporting educational agencies, GED Testing Service is able to better optimize their business using the insights they gain from their analytics solution  

GED Testing Service LLC (“GED Testing Service”), the creator of the official GEDR test, worked with multiple educational organizations to realign the GEDR test to meet the career and college skills needed to compete in today’s labor market. Adults without high school diplomas who go through the GEDR program build the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed for the modern workforce. They can also earn college credit and hit the ground running in their post-secondary education programs.

As GED Testing Service worked with state agencies and adult basic educational programs, they recognized a need to modernize the ways in which these groups accessed GEDR student data. They found that over half of the adults, who sign up for a GEDR program leave without finishing, which further limits students’ opportunities in higher education, future employment, and potential wage increases. To help more students succeed in the program, GED Testing Service set out to find a solution that would distribute actionable insights to an array of users with a variety of needs. The capabilities needed to be easily accessible to the organizations working with GEDR students, as well as offer top-tier security and privacy protections to align with The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) requirements.

In partnership with GoodData, GED Testing Service developed the GED AnalyticsTM tool, providing its authorized educational organizations with dashboards supporting tester performance, demographic data, psychographic data, trend analysis, and comparison of metrics to other regions.

GEDR programs supporting adults pursuing their high school credentials need to be well-positioned to identify students who have dropped out of their GEDR programs then intervene quickly. Both educational programs and GEDR testing centers use data to find insights and identify populations that would benefit from additional support and make programs more effective while increasing their graduation rates. For example, programs can identify students struggling with subject areas and reach out to enroll them in subject-specific clinics, such as Math Boot Camps focused on foundational math skills.

State agencies and individual centers have at-a-glance dashboards giving them insight into performance. As with anything data-related, organizations continue to find new and valuable insights. In the spirit of continuous improvement and learning from peers, GED Testing Service often applies these new findings to all state dashboards, increasing efficacy in adult education programs.

In addition to supporting educational agencies, GED Testing Service is able to better optimize their business using the insights they gain from their analytics solution. The staff use the insights to make decisions within their daily business processes. They are able to determine which learning products yield the best outcomes for different populations, ideal workflows for student success besides geographic, seasonal, and demographic trends. In the past, the staff would have manually created ad hoc reports by running SQL queries, loading the results into Excel, and finally running a series of pivot tables. The process impacted staff productivity and was prone to errors.

Prior to developing the GoodData dashboarding, GED Testing Service compiled a once-a-year statistical report with a host of static metrics. The report required an outside firm to compile data alongside staff researchers who spent months producing the report. The annual report could not support the desired level of modern data analytics at scale. As a result, GED Testing Service integrated an analytics dashboard model that provides near real-time insights data across GEDR programs. With this approach, education departments are better equipped with personalized tester performance data.

By using data to provide actionable insights, GED Testing Service drives more meaningful change with their students and their educational partners. The focus on increasing graduation rates and enhancing modern career and college skills will continue to provide more people a positive step toward the American Dream.

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