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GED proves it's not equivalent to high school degree. By Jay P. Greene Detroit News, April 7, 2002 Source. What is the GED.

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ged proves it s not equivalent to high school degree

GED proves it's not equivalent to high school degree

By Jay P. Greene

Detroit News, April 7, 2002


what is the ged
What is the GED
  • Many people think that the "E" in GED stands for "equivalent," believing the alternative credential is supposed to be like a high school diploma. They are wrong on two counts -- the GED stands for General Education Development certification, and there is nothing about this certification that is equivalent to a high school diploma.
  • We know that the GED is not equivalent to a regular high school diploma because GED recipients tend to fare later in life much more like high school dropouts than like graduates. A study by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman and colleague Stephen Cameron found GED holders to be "statistically indistinguishable" from high school dropouts: They're not significantly more likely to land a job or to have higher hourly wages.
how is it tested
How is it tested?

We get data.

Outcome =

b1 * Years of Educ. +

b2 * gender (0, 1) +

b3 * HS Dip (0, 1) +

b4 * GED (0, 1)


W/ HS Dip

If HS Diploma helps, curve shifts upward.

If GED doesn’t help, curve doesn’t shift


  • The 60 percent of GED recipients who attempt higher education also do not make out very well. Almost three-quarters of GED holders who enroll in community colleges fail to finish their degrees, compared with 44 percent of high school graduates. In four-year college, the prospects are even grimmer: An astonishing 95 percent of GED holders don't finish, compared with 25 percent of high school graduates.
  • GED recipients tend not to do much better than high school dropouts primarily because it doesn't take very much to obtain a GED. To get the certification, one has to pass tests in five subjects. Despite a recent revision of the tests, passage is not very difficult.
consequences to the belief in ged equivalency
Consequences to the belief in GED Equivalency
  • There are real consequences to the false belief in GED equivalency. First, the easy availability of an "equivalent" degree may entice students to dropout of high school. States that made it easier for students to take the GED, by having lower minimum age requirements and shorter waiting periods between leaving high school and taking the GED tests, experienced higher dropout rates than states that made access to the GED more difficult.
  • Second, counting GEDs as if they were like regular high school graduates has distorted public understanding of graduation rates in this country. When the U.S. Department of Education announced last year that 87 percent of students complete high school, they lumped together GED recipients with regular high school graduates. And when it claimed that the high school completion rate has been steadily increasing, the department failed to note that if the growing number of GED recipients were excluded, the real high school graduation rate has actually been declining since the 1960s.