"Gatekeeper Credentials" The Changing Landscape of High School Equivalencies: Exploring the Implications for Access and Equity for Communities of Color

Jun 11, 2013

By Kisha Bird

Last month, CLASP in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights held a timely and  important roundtable discussion on high school equivalency: Roundtable Discussion: "Gatekeeper Credentials" The Changing Landscape of High School Equivalencies: Exploring the Implications for Access and Equity for Communities of Color. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an overview of the new high school equivalency tests, including the GED®, that will take effect in 2014, hear perspectives of local providers, discuss concerns, and identify next steps to ensure low-income communities and communities of color have adequate access to earn a secondary credential. Participants included a cross-section of youth, education, and workforce policy advocates, practitioners and program providers, along with civil rights advocates.

This conversation is critically relevant to black male achievement and the ability of young black men who have dropped out of high school to get back on track and earn a secondary school credential.  Youth and young adults ages 16 to 24 represent a large number of those needing access to high school equivalencies pathways, such as the GED®.  The 6.7 million young people disconnected from school and work - with 3.4 million having been unattached to school since age 16 --  are disproportionately African American and Hispanic.  According to the GED® Testing Service, over 50 percent of the individuals taking their test were under the age of 25.   Employment prospects are significantly decreased for those lacking a secondary school diploma.  Just 25 percent of African American high school dropouts age 16-24 are employed as compared to 47 percent for their white counterparts.

In less than six months, beginning in 2014, the GED®  test and its administration at the federal, state and local level will change - impacting some 25.7 million people between ages 18 and 64 and who are without a high school diploma or equivalent. This is the largest overhaul of the GED® , the most widely recognized alternative to a high school diploma, in seven decades. 

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