By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
is at the Dade County Library every day it’s open, and if you’re partway
through passing your GED high school equivalency test, she wants you there,
“The new test
comes out January 2014, which means those people who have taken the test and
have not passed all five parts need to get all five parts taken and passed
before January 2014, because once that new test comes out, all old test scores
will go away,” she said.
people like that not just in Dade but all through Georgia, said Ms. Blevins.
“They think, I have time, I have time, I have time,” said Ms. Blevins. “Well,
time’s ticking down now.”
passed some but not completed all of the GED sections, failing to finish up
before yearend will lose you not only your effort but the money you paid to
take the test, she warns.
previously a special education teacher for Dade County Schools, has for the
past 18 years been the county’s GED and adult education instructor. Now, by the
way, she has a new title, lead teacher and site manager for Dade and Walker, so
she’ll be coordinating with Walker teachers as well as looking after her own
students here in Dade.
officially stands for general educational development, is administered in Dade
and Walker by Georgia Northwestern Technical College, formerly Walker Tech, and
Ms. Blevins is employed by GNTC as opposed to the Dade County Board of
But she is
careful to specify there is no competition between the two. “I don’t want
anyone to drop out,” she said. “I want them to graduate. We’re not here to take
students from the high school.”
In Dade County,
though, despite increasing graduation rates, many students still do drop out,
and GED is there to make sure those students still have a path to a high school
education and further.
Many of the
students Ms. Blevins tutors, especially during the day, are still of an age to
attend high school, but going back to classes is not necessarily an option, she
said. “There’s reasons,” she said. They may have gotten kicked out, or they may
have gotten a job or be raising a child.
“Some of them,
it’s not for them,” said Ms. Blevins. “Life happens, and I work with their work
schedules as much as I can, for my students who have jobs, and that’s why we
have the evening classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.”
still teaches GED students at the Dade Senior Center on Highway 11 South on the
days the library is closed, but she’s noticed an upswing in attendance since
she began tutoring at the library. She thinks that’s not just because the
library is centrally located on the Trenton town square but also because it’s
near Dade Elementary, making it convenient for parents with children enrolled
But not all the
students are adolescents or young parents, says Ms. Blevins. They range from 16
all the way up to 40-something. She wishes she had more of those, said the
teacher, because she knows there are plenty out there.
come by and sign up at any time, said Ms. Blevins. “We start with an assessment
with our students to get a grade level in reading, math and language, which are
the three main areas on the GED,” she said.
There is also a
science section and a social studies component, and a language arts writing
part that includes an essay. “We do a first writing and it’s real simple,” said
Ms. Blevins. “Just write a paragraph or something and tell me something about
you. What do you like? What do you not like? What are your hobbies? And we go
from there and we individualize the plan to the student’s needs.”
are ready to take the test right away, said Ms. Blevins, while others need to
brush up on basic skills. Some sections are self-directed, but she usually
finds herself sitting down with students one-on-one in math. “We start with
their weakest subject and work our way up,” said Ms. Blevins.
GED classes are
free to students – the program is financed through state and federal funds –
but there is a fee for the test, $160 at present and Ms. Blevins doesn’t know
how much after January. “But things never get cheaper,” she said.
The test is
computerized and takes all day, right at eight hours with several little
breaks, says Ms. Blevins. Students who fail one or more sections get a second
crack at the test free. After that there is a $32 fee.
The test is
given at GNTC a couple of times a week, or students may choose to drive to
Dalton or Rome. Scheduling is looser if
a student just needs to complete one section. “That’s the good thing about it
being on the computer is, like if they just need the math, they don’t have to
go in at 8 o’clock in the morning when everybody’s ready to start the test,”
said Ms. Blevins. “They can go in at 10:30.”
But now is the
time to go ahead and “get R done,” says Ms. Blevins, because: “On Dec. 31, when
the clock strikes midnight, all old test scores are erased from the
information on GED in Dade, readers may call (706) 657-2205 or (423) 902-7978.