By: Korie Marshall

A note on the Ministry of Education’s website says it is discontinuing the GED high school program, and will no longer offer testing sessions after November 2014. “Candidates who have not passed all five tests must complete them by November 14 or 15, 2014 if they wish to qualify for the BC Secondary School Equivalency certificate,” says the website.

Scott Sutherland, spokesperson for the ministry, says it is being phased out as a result of a couple things. First, he says the number of people taking the test has dropped significantly – by over half in the last 12 years – and only about 1000 adults were taking the test each year.

“What really sparked the decision is that it has a limited use,” says Sutherland. “Many post secondary institutions and many employers do not see it as an equivalent to a Dogwood.” The Dogwood is the province’s name for the Certificate of Graduation from BC high schools.

After this year, Sutherland says adults in BC who want to get their high school graduation certificate can do so either through the standard Dogwood program (going back to high school) or through the Adult Dogwood program.
Sutherland says the ministry’s Adult Dogwood program actually offers greater opportunities for employment and entry into post-secondary schools, whether they are college level or trades training, than the GED program did. He says the usefulness of the GED program, which is American-based, has been decreasing.

Dan Kenkel, Principal of Valemount Secondary School, says the loss of the GED program isn’t really a loss, it is being replaced by a better system. He says the Adult Dogwood program is more in line with a student’s prior learning in the BC school system, and adult learners can take the courses online from home.

The Valemount Learning Centre can help adult learners with accessing course material, studying for the tests, and can invigilate the tests for the province. Jared Smith, ESL/Literacy Coordinator for the Learning Centre, says he hasn’t been in the role long enough to know if the cut will leave a hole in the system for some adults, but he hasn’t seen many cases where a GED would be more desirable for a client.

“The person would have to be fairly motivated and self-directed, because all of the tests are done over the course of one day; it is 8 hours of testing in all the subject areas,” says Smith of the GED program. “That is a lot of information to study for and cram in and test all at once.”

With the Adult Dogwood on the other hand, Smith says you can take courses one at a time and work at your own pace. There are also opportunities to have some of your past experiences count towards credits, which is not an option in the GED system.

Smith says he hopes anyone working towards their GED right now also knows about the Adult Dogwood program, because a lot of people are actually surprised how easily they can get their certificate. He says there are many clients who dropped out of school in Grade 12, but when they look at the requirements, they actually have the courses they need, and it is just a matter of submitting their transcripts. For others, it may require more work, but individual courses are often less stressful than the GED program.

“The big question I can’t answer for you at this time is who accepts the GED,” says Smith, on whether the cut is leaving a hole for some learners.