Why We Need a Fair GED Test in Washington State

Why We Need a Fair GED Test in Washington State

In January 2014 Washington state quit using afair GED test, (fair as in it hadhad been normed to the abilities of real high school grads) and adopted the draconian Pearson GED, to align with our state's K-12 system's adoption to common core, or “College and Career Readiness Standards”. As a result of this change in tests, since January 2014, approximately 25,000 students in our state who otherwise would have earned a GED have been unfairly deprived of one. Without this certificate, these 25,000 young adults cannot get a good paying job or attend college. Without hope, about 10% of students who would have earned a GED with the former test, wind up in prison - at a cost to state tax payers in our state of more than $100 million per year. Please help us end this ongoing crime against our these low income and minority students by sharing this article with other parents, teachers and concerned citizens.


From 2010 to 2013, an average of 14,000 young adults per year passed this GED test in Washington State – allowing them to seek better opportunities with employers and qualify for better college opportunities. However, in January 2014, a multinational for profit corporation called Pearson, took over the GED name and changed the GED test to an unfair test that was not related to the academic skills and abilities of the average high school senior. The Pearson GED test, currently the only GED test students can take in Washington State, was substantially more difficult to pass than the prior GED test. In fact, the Pearson GED test is so difficult to pass that almost no one in our state legislature can pass it. As a result, the number of students who passed the new Pearson GED test in 2014 in Washington State fell to only 2,850 – a decline of more than 11,000 students from the average of previous years. The number rose only slightly in 2015 to about 4,000 students. Thus, in the 2 years and 6 months since Pearson took over the GED test, more than 25,000 students have been unfairly deprived of a High School Equivalency Certificate here in Washington state.

I became aware of this tragedy in March 2014. Together with my wife, Elizabeth Hanson and several other Adult Education instructors, we formed a group called Restore GED Fairness to expose the crime being committed by Pearson and let educators and students know that there were fairer alternatives to the Pearson GED Test. You can learn more about our research by visiting our website: https://restoregedfairness.org/

Below is a table of the benefits of two other High School Equivalency tests over the Pearson GED test.

Here is what one GED Instructor said about the Pearson GED Test:
The students I work with, for the most part, want to get a job at Home Depot and Walmart. Hopefully they will (achieve higher aspirations) when they get their lives back on track. But right now, most of them just want a job. There needs to be a fairness where we don’t expect so much more of a GED student. The vast majority of high school graduates would never come close to passing the (unfair Pearson) GED test.” John Grosvenor Portland Community College GED Instructor

Here is what a student said about the Pearson GED test: “The math is ridiculous. There is no way that that test is normed to high school. It’s worded in such a complicated high-level thinking that you spend a huge chunk of time reading and rereading the question just to figure out what the equation should be.” Oregon GED Student
Source: https://portlandtribune.com/wlt/95-news/292859-169366-oregon-ged-students-still-struggling

We also wrote bills and worked with educators in several other states to pass laws to provide students with a fair alternative to the Pearson GED Test. We succeeded to get a fair GED test in about two dozen states. Currently 24 States offer students a fairer high school equivalency test option (20 states offer the HiSET test, 4 states offer the TASC test). Unfortunately, we were not successful in getting a fair GED test in Washington state. Washington is one of 26 states that still force students to pass the unfair Pearson GED test.


We submitted bills to the Washington legislature in the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. One of our bills, Senate Bill 5676 was passed unanimously by the Senate Higher Education committee on February 19, 2015. However, its companion bill was blocked in the House Higher Education by Chris Reykdal - who is currently running for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Why did Chris Reykdal block a bill that would have helped tens of thousands of low income and minority students have access to a fair GED test?
It is hard to imagine that anyone could possibly be so corrupt and ruthless that they would oppose allowing students to have access to a fair GED test. To understand how this happened, we need to go behind the scenes and expose how Olympia really works. While Reykdal is a member of the state legislature, his real job is to represent the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges in Olympia. More commonly called the SBCTC, this group of a couple hundred highly paid administrators was created by the State legislature to remove supervision over our state colleges from our elected Superintendent of Public Instruction and place it in the hands of a group of unelected bureaucrats. The SBCTC is therefore a clear violation of Article 3, Section 22 and Article 9, Section 2 of our State Constitution. The point of this fake organization is not to help our kids or colleges, it is to help wealthy corporations such as Pearson infiltrate and privatize our colleges.

The single most powerful person in Olympia is also the richest man in the world, Bill Gates. One of Bill's primary goals is to privatize and take over our public schools. This is why Bill has spent millions of dollars on fake Astroturf groups such as Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters. Bill spent even more billions promoting fake charter schools, fake online schools such as K12 INC and fake learning standards called Common Core. I documented the relationship between Bill Gates and all of these scam ed reform programs in my book Weapons of Mass Deception, which you can read online at the following link: https://weaponsofmassdeception.org/


Bill Gates not only wants to privatize our public schools, he also wants to privatize our colleges. He has therefore "given" millions of dollars to the SBCTC in order to "influence" their policies. Bill Gates has bought not only many members of our state legislature but also the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) – who have been given more than $13 million in grants and bribes by the Gates Foundation.

This is why the SBCTC and Reykdal are such strong supporters of Common Core and the Common Core SBAC Test and the Common Core Pearson GED test. Now that he is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Reykdal claims he is against requiring the Common Core SBAC test for graduation. However, all one has to do is spend 10 minutes reading Reykdal's SBAC bill, House Bill 2214, to realize that his bill is the exact opposite of his claims. http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2214-S.pdf

Reykdal has said repeatedly at televised SPI Candidate forums that House Bill 2214 - a bill of which he was the prime sponsor - "delinks the SBAC test from graduation" and "guarantees the right of students to opt out."

In fact, House Bill 2214 requires passage of the SBAC 11th Grade test in order to graduate from high school. Students who fail the SBAC 11th Grade Math test - or opt out - (which is about 44,000 students per year or half of all 11th graders) are required to take and pass an additional advanced math course during their Senior year that is harder than any previous math course they have passed before then. So if they passed Precalculus during their Junior Year, they would need to pass Calculus during their Senior Year in order to graduate. No other state is the nation has such draconian graduation requirements.

To add insult to injury, Chris Reykdal's bill does not provide school districts with even one extra penny to hire the hundreds of additional math teachers required so the 44,000 Seniors will be able to pass the extra math courses needed to graduate. Instead, teacher pay is so low that half the school districts already do not have enough qualified math instructors. To make matters even worse, if a student opts out of the 11th grade SBAC test, they are punished with a score of Zero that goes on their permanent record AND they are required to take additional courses in both Math and English during their Senior Year in order to graduate - even if they had already completed all of the Math and English course requirements! Reykdal has the audacity to call this protecting the rights of students to opt out!

Here are the high school graduation requirements of House Bill 2214 beginning with Line 33, Page 4: "Beginning with the graduating class of 2017, a student must earn... a score of level 3 or level 4 on the high school (SBAC) English and mathematics assessment."

Page 5, Line 12 requires students to take the SBAC test at least once: "A student... must have taken, at least once, the high school English and mathematics assessments."

On Page 6, Line 20, Chris allows students who opt out of the draconian SBAC test to take "other options." But the other options are the SAT test or the ACT test. Even then, students must still achieve a score equivalent to the SBAC test or it is off to the salt mines!

On Page 8, Line 12 Chris forces students who fail or opt out of the SBAC test to take and pass "rigorous" courses harder than any previous course they have ever passed in order to graduate from high school: "A course shall be deemed rigorous if it is at a higher course level than the student's most recent coursework in the content area in which the student received a passing grade of C or higher."

So if a student passed Precalculus during their Junior Year, but failed the unfair SBAC test or opted out of the test, they would need to pass Calculus during their Senior Year in order to graduate. No other state is the nation has such draconian graduation requirements. It is shocking that Reykdal has the audacity to claim that this draconian requirement - giving students who opt out a ZERO - is somehow protecting the rights of students to opt out.

Here is the administrative chart of the SBCTC. Note that Reykdal has only one boss, the SBCTC Director Marty Brown. Also Reykdal has no employees.

Common Core basically started in 2009 when Bill Gates realized that the best way to cash in on our schools was to create a set of national standards and national tests:

Bill then hired a couple of Wall Street consultants to write his Common Core standards. Unfortunately, this flunkies were not teachers and knew nothing about child development. As a consequence, they did a terrible job and their Common Core standards were opposed by hundreds of child development specialists from across the US.

08 Common Core also ignores the social and emotional needs of our kids.

The Common Core test, called SBAC, unfairly labels 3 out of 4 low income children as failures.


Common Core is a Corporate Cash Cow
While Common Core has been a disaster for students, it has generated billions in profits for the corporations selling Common Core books, Common Core tests and Common Core computers:


The bill to adopt Common Core in Washington state, House Bill 1450 was approved by the legislature during the last week in June 2013. House bill 1450 formally authorized both the fake Common Core standards and the unfair SBAC Common Core test. http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1450&year=2013

There was a fiscal note for HB 1450 indicating that the cost would be more than $200 million to the General Fund State budget (this did not include cost to local school districts that I estimate to be more than one billion dollars). The $200 million was nearly all to pay for a "contract" to some un-named group to do the SBAC test (which did not actually exist when it was voted into law). Here is the link to the HB 1450 fiscal note: https://fortress.wa.gov/binaryDisplay.aspx?package=33558

This extra $200 million in Washington state funds is despite the fact that about $200 million in federal Race to the Top funds were used to create the SBAC test. So SBAC was and continues to be a major financial scam. SBAC is not only the worst most unfair test ever created, it is also the most expensive test ever created!

Reykdal voted in favor of bringing Common Core and the SBAC test to Washington State. But this was just the beginning of the billionaire Common Core attack on our schools. On March 8, 2013, Reykdal also voted for House Bill 1686 to replace our former GED test with the Pearson GED test. Naturally, this bill was passed at the request of Reykdal's employer, the SBCTC. http://app.leg.wa.gov/DLR/billsummary/default.aspx?Bill=1686&year=2013

To be clear, Reykdal is not the only supporter of Common Core and the unfair SBAC test and the unfair Pearson GED test in Olympia. The current Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, also gets millions from Bill Gates and also is a cheerleader for Common Core. This is why Randy is backing Chris Reykdal - to continue the Gates takeover of our public schools and colleges and to protect Bill Gates pet project, Common Core and the SBAC test.

Why there was a need to make the GED Test much harder at the same time as the SBAC Graduation Test was being made much harder?
To understand the relationship between the Common Core GED test and the Common Core SBAC test, we have to understand the real purpose of Common Core. It is not to help kids get Career and College ready. No test and no set of standards can get kids career or college ready. Only lower class sizes can do that. Instead, the real purpose of Common Core is to fail as many students as possible in order to deceive parents into thinking our schools are failures - with the hope that parents will then turn against our public schools and allow them to be taken over by private for profit corporations like Microsoft. So this is all about greed and increasing corporate profits. The Common Core standards are deliberately not age appropriate because they are intended to get kids to hate school. The SBAC test questions are specifically written to be confusing and fail as many kids as possible. The SBAC test must be a graduation requirement or the students would quickly lose interest in passing it. But here is the problem with this plan: If there was still a fair GED test, the kids would quickly learn to take the fair GED test instead of the unfair SBAC test. So the real point of the unfair Pearson GED test was to close the escape route before introducing the unfair SBAC test.


This then was why Reykdal had to block our GED Fairness bill in the House in 2015. It was to prevent high school students from having a fair option to the draconian SBAC test in 2016. Tens of thousands of struggling students were sacrificed in order to protect the Common Core SBAC test gravy train.

GED Marketplace... Turning Personal Tragedy into Pearson Profits
Pearson makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profit by deliberately and unfairly maximizing the failure rate on the Pearson GED test. If you go to the Pearson GED Test Prep store, called the GED Marketplace, you will see dozens of Pearson GED test prep products for sale. http://www.gedmarketplace.com/


Click on GED Test Prep in the left side menu to reach this page:

Pearson offers 73 products to prepare for the Pearson GED test. Those who fail the GED test, and parents of those who fail the GED, are likely to order many of these products in a desperate attempt to pass the Pearson GED test. Some of the items are not sold but rented by the month. For example, the first item costs $50 per month. There are 30 products on the first page with a total price of about $1,000. The total for all 73 Pearson GED test prep items is about $2,000. Pearson profit from the GED Marketplace is about $500 million per year!

How much will the Pearson monopoly - destroying the lives of 25,000 mostly low income young adults per year - cost Washington State tax payers?
High school dropouts who do not get a GED are as much as three times more likely to commit a crime as those who do have a high school diploma or GED. Here is a quote from a recent study: “Nearly 1 of every 10 young male high school dropouts was institutionalized versus fewer than 1 of 33 young male high school graduates.” “The Consequences of Dropping Out of School, Joblessness and Jailing for High School Dropouts” October 2009


The Role of the GED in Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Prison
Poverty creates prisoners and prisons in turn fuel poverty. Once a person has been incarcerated, the experience limits their lifetime earning power and their ability to climb out of poverty even decades after their release. This sets up a vicious inter-generational cycle of poverty and prison. Over one third of prison inmates—37 percent in 2003—do not have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. With a prison record and no certificate, few jobs are available.

In 2002, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 67% of inmates released from state prisons in 1994 committed at least one serious crime in the three years following their release. A GED certificate is a “last chance” to break this cycle of poverty and prison.

Offenders under the age of 21 who earned their GED diploma were 14% less likely to return to prison within three years. Without a GED to help them get a job, 54% of young offenders return to prison within three years. http://www.passged.com/media/pdf/research/The_Effect_of_Earning_a_GED_on_Recidivisim_Rates.pdf


Calculating the Cost to Tax Payers of 25,000 mostly low income young adults not being able to pass the GED due to the Unfair Pearson Test
Given that having a GED has resulted in a 14% drop in committing crimes and given that the prison population passes the GED test at the same rate as the non-prison High school drop out population, we can predict that had 25,000 low income young adults been given a fair chance at passing the GED test so they could get a decent job of go to college, the rate in this group committing crimes would be 14% less. This would be about 3,500 fewer low income young adults committing crimes and going to prison in Washington State. According to a 2012 study, the annual cost to Washington State tax payers to house and feed a single prisoner is over $50,000. This does not include the cost to victims from crimes, the cost in police to catch law breakers and the cost to courts in legal fees. Assuming a one year jail term, the cost of 3,500 extra prisoners is at least an additional $100 million per year. Washington State had an average daily prison population of over 16,000 in 2012. Most did not have a GED certificate. Adding another 3,500 prisoners represents a 12% increase in the prison population and in the cost of prisons which is currently just under one billion dollars per year. http://www.vera.org/files/price-of-prisons-washington-fact-sheet.pdf

The Poverty to Prison Money Machine
Putting Pearson profits above the need of students who need a GED certificate is despicable enough. But there is an even more sinister aspect of preventing high school drop outs from getting their GED - the billions of dollars to be made running private prisons – filled with young men who failed to pass the GED test.

Poverty to Prison Pipeline... America's new growth industry
According to a 2011 ACLU report called “Banking on Bondage”, the United States has 2.3 million citizens behind bars, more than any other nation. The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. It hasn't always been this way. Up until 1970, the US was at the world average of one in one thousand citizens being locked up.

Then the billionaires began their takeover of our media and our State legislatures and national Congress. One of their first actions, besides taking over our public airwaves and getting rid of the “Fairness Doctrine” was to pass laws putting many more people behind bars. This “war on the poor” movement really took off after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Many States now spend more on locking people up in prisons than on funding higher education. Here is the graph for the State of California spending on both as a Percent of State General Funds:

Spending on Prisons ( Green) compared to Spending on Higher Education


Since 1980, higher education spending has decreased by 13 percent in inflation adjusted dollars, whereas spending on California's prisons and associated correctional programs has skyrocketed by 436 percent. The state now shells out more money from its general fund for the prison system than the higher education system.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/california-prisons-colleges_n_1863101.html

On reason states have had to cut support for higher education and raise tuition has been to pay for all of the prisons. The rise in tuition has led to an explosion in student debt. Both prison spending and student debt hit $1 trillion dollar milestones in 2012.

What is the real harm with high stakes high failure rate testing?

A2013 study found a significant relationship between high-stakes testing and the school-to-prison pipeline, with students who fail high stakes testing exams 12 percent more likely to face incarceration.


This is a 12 minute video on High stakes test failure linked to winding up in prison


The School-to-Prison Pipeline Exposed, a new study has revealed that in states that use high-stakes exit exams, students who fail these tests were more than 12 percent more likely to face incarceration and had lower graduation rates than states without exit exams. Meanwhile, the study found no consistent effects of exit exams on employment or the distribution of wages.

This school-to-prison pipeline is a catastrophe in communities across the nation, and it's being fueled by this high-stakes testing regime. We are the only country in the world that is so obsessed with these high-stakes standardized tests.”
Jesse Hagopain, Teacher Garfield High School, Seattle Washington

What happened to Senate Bill 5676?
Given that the Pearson GED monopoly cost Washington State taxpayers more than $100 million dollars per year in additional prison costs per year, one would think that our State legislature would quickly approve of a fairer and less expensive high school equivalency test option like the HiSET test. However, the wealth and power of Bill Gates is more important to corrupt legislators than protecting either our students or our tax payers. So this is a lesson not only about Reykdal blocking our GED Fairness bill, it is also a lesson about how greed and corruption are currently controlling our entire state legislature. This was the real reason that Senate Bill 5676 was not passed in 2015.

We will continue our campaign for a fair GED test in Washington state. Our plan is to travel across our state exposing this problem. But our efforts will not do much good as long as Bill Gates is allowed to use his billions to control our state legislature. What we really need is a more honest state legislature which will require that in the 2016 election more honest people are elected to the state legislature. We hope you will join us! See our website for additional information on our efforts to restore GED fairness in Washington state and across the US: http://restoregedfairness.org/

David Spring M. Ed.
Candidate for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction