Friday, June 11, 2010

Without the GED more students might stay in high school

Here are some sobering thoughts about the GED:

Although a growing number of high school dropouts are taking the GED, most who pass the exam discover that it doesn't help them much in finding improved economic opportunities or completing postsecondary education, a new analysis concludes.
In fact, through its widespread availability and low cost, the GED appears to be inducing some students to drop out of school, the study suggests. In 2008, almost half-a-million dropouts earned a General Educational Development credential, amounting to 12 percent of all high school credentials issued that year, according to the new study, published this month as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
"The GED is not harmless," says the study. "Treating it as equivalent to a high school degree distorts social statistics and gives false signals that America is making progress when it is not."


This is a great example of the law of unintended consequences. Someone puts together a plan and doesn't anticipate all the consequences.

With the GED it isn't clear that in the net it is good or bad. It may be that with the option of the GED more people drop out of high school, but over all more are going off to college. I sort of doubt it, but it is hard to know.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education


silvermine said...

Or, they might drop out of school anyway, but now they are stuck without any way of doing anything. No high school equivalent to get a job or go to college. (Happened to my brother -- he had awful asthma and couldn't continue to go to school. The school dealt with it horribly. Brother dropped out rather than face any more of that. In that state you had to be 18 to take the GED, so he was stuck at home basically unschooling himself for a few years.)

Henry Cate said...

Interesting point. I hadn't thought of that benefit of the GED.

Fundamentally one of the big problems with public schools is the government has taken ownership of the education process. So when it encounters a problem it often passes another rule. Bureaucracies just aren't very flexible.

It would be better if we kicked the Federal government out of the education business, tossed away most of the rules, and let parents be in charge again.

Then your parents could have worked out a program that would have been better for your brother.