Local students earn GED certificates before new 2014 GED test requirements kick in

By WEEK Reporter

January 25, 2014 Updated Jan 27, 2014 at 12:32 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Local students are earned their GED certificates Saturday. They are last group in Peoria to graduate under the old GED requirements.

Saturday was graduation day for Moonlight students at Peoria's Proctor Center.

"It's a rebirth of the Southside," said Coordinator Hedy Elliott -Gardner. "All of these people come to better their lives, and I really think they're re-energizing the south end."

One of the 25 graduates is Tamirra Tracy, a 21-year-old single mother.

"This accomplishment meant so much to me," said Tracy. "I actually traveled an hour and 45 minutes just to take the GED test."

Taking the test is just one of many challenges these students overcome.

"A lot of my students, walk, run or take the bus to class," explained Hedy. "They really go the extra mile."

"They spend days night, weekends with Hedy and other tutors just to keep practicing and studying," said volunteer tutor Emily Bernardi.

"I am a single mother, I have a daughter, and she's one year old. She came to class with me every day, sitting on my lap while I study with Mrs. Hedy," said Tracy.

And, she did it. Tracy gave the 2014 class speech.

However, future students have another set of hurdles to jump. The 2014 GED test has changed.

"It went from a paper, pencil, cash-based test. Now it's all online and the price went up significantly," said Hedy.

Peoria's $50 test is now more than a $100. It's also more difficult with new content and short answer questions.

"The test is harder, but what I think is more challenging is going to be the tech literacy that's expected," said Hedy

There are also no more paper exams offered.

"All people don't really know computers as well. A lot of people didn't take any technology classes," said Tracy.

"You need to know drop down, you need to click and drag. Unfortunately, I don't think it's going to reflect what knowledge they have as far as the material," said Hedy.

Still, it is a battle students are willing to fight.

"I'm still seeing the enthusiasm of lots of people joining. Since January, we've had 37 people sign up," said Hedy.

"It's a really great accomplishment, and it's something that nobody can ever take away from you," said Tracy.