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GED Faces New Rivals for High School Dropouts

Since the 1940s, the GED has been the only high school equivalency test out there. Now there's competition
A teacher with a GED prep class in Kansas City, Mo.
A teacher with a GED prep class in Kansas City, Mo.Photograph by Orlin Wagner/AP Photo

The decades-long hegemony of the General Education Development test over American dropouts hoping for a high school equivalency degree is coming to an end next year—and just as the GED becomes more difficult, more expensive, and available only on computer. Two alternative tests are set to enter the market from different providers, and states such as New York are abandoning the GED entirely.

The GED was introduced in 1942 to help returning World War II veterans without high school diplomas get back on track and take advantage of the G.I. Bill, and the exam became available to civilians in the late 1940s. By 2008, GEDs accounted for 12 percent of high school credentials issued.