Name Changed Proposed For GED

A name change is all that’s needed to boost use of the General Equivalency Degree.

Assemblyman John Zaccaro, D-Bronx, and state Sen. Luis Sepulveda, D-Bronx, are sponsoring legislation (A.9555/S.8821) to change the name of the GED to the Excelsior high school diploma.

“Earning a high school equivalency diploma has given New Yorkers an educational foundation to put them on a pathway to success and just like other academic diplomas, should be viewed as an accomplishment by the recipient of their hard work and deserves to be celebrated,” Zaccaro and Sepulveda wrote in their legislative justification. ”

However, the societal stigma associated with the GED test and earning a high school equivalency diploma has become deeply ingrained over time. This has resulted in harmful perceptions about the GED test, the quality of a high school equivalency diploma when compared to a high school diploma, the test takers, their intellectual capabilities, their motivations to obtain a high school equivalency diploma, and how having a HSE diploma will impact their career or future educational opportunities.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed similar legislation into law in 2022 to replace references to high school equivalency certificates to State of Illinois High School Diplomas. Illinois also changed school codes to recognize high school equivalency certificates from other states as the equivalent of a State of Illinois High School Diploma, allowing ease of reciprocity when transferring educational requirements across state lines.

The Illinois College Board also increased GED test discounts to encourage state residents to complete their high school degrees, setting aside $430,000 of discounts to all test takers and bringing the total costs of testing down to $40 for in-person tests and $56 for online tests. Previous discount programs in 2020 and 2021 were redeemed by nearly 20,000 test takers.

Zaccaro and Sepulveda don’t propose spending money to increase use of the GED. Instead, they think more state residents are likely to take GED classes if the name is different.

“The Excelsior High School Diploma will build upon this movement to end the stigma so that no New Yorker ever feels diminished by society’s perception of their achievements and instead move ever upward through life with the knowledge, support, and self-confidence to achieve their dreams,” they wrote.


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