GED Testing Service, which runs the best-known high school equivalency test, said it will lower the passing score for the test beginning in March.
The new score will also apply retroactively to those who took the test after it was revamped about two years ago.
The adjustment came after data showed that people taking the GED had to clear a higher hurdle than the average high school student, according to CT Turner, a spokesman for GED Testing Service.
He said lowering the passing score ensured that "GED graduates are not held to a higher standard than the average high school graduate, and that we’re not ahead of the curve, we’re reflective of that curve.”
The Testing Service has also become a for-profit company, and it’s facing competition from some new tests on the market.
Since the GED was revamped in 2014 to reflect the Common Core standards for public schools, fewer students have passed the test.
“There undoubtedly was some concern about losing market share to the other tests,” said Emily Froimson, president of Gateway to College National Network, a nonprofit that helps people earn high school degrees.
Froimson said the GED is also more expensive than some of those competing tests.
GED’s CT Turner said the cost varies, and that the score change isn’t about competition.
“This is about making adult learners successful,” he insisted.
Turner also said the GED will identify test takers who score above a certain level as college ready, a designation that could help them skip remedial courses and get college credit.
Colleges would have to agree to that, of course.
“We have to remember that higher education has a role in this as well," said Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. "They have the right to say yes or no we will accept or we won’t accept.”