Detroit Lakes Adult Education helps build mobile GED testing opportunities for state residents
"We had GED testing in Detroit Lakes, which was very important because Fergus Falls no longer had GED testing, Moorhead no longer had GED testing, Alexandria no longer had GED testing...”
DETROIT LAKES — Detroit Lakes Adult Education has one of the first pilot programs in the state that offers a mobile GED testing lab, according to Lakes Area Adult Education Program Manager Amy Fish.
She reported a $6,000 grant from United Way helped purchase 10 laptops, as well as other required materials.
“There is absolutely no way it would’ve happened without the United Way, or somebody stepping in to help,” Fish said, adding the Minnesota Department of Education and Pearson VUE were also instrumental in making the mobile GED testing lab a reality.
While most are likely familiar with the Minnesota Department of Education, Pearson VUE may be less familiar.
“Pearson Vue is one of the biggest testing companies in the world and GED testing is a small piece of what they offer,” Fish said.
She explained that, years ago, when GED tests were administered with a pencil and paper, there were ample testing sites. However, computer-based GED tests became the norm and Pearson VUE was given the contract to offer the GED tests in 2014. Fish said, at that point most rural testing centers closed as there were substantial costs associated to meet the high standards Pearson VUE required of testing sites. That meant metro areas had easily accessible locations to take a GED test, while the outlying areas were at a geographic disadvantage.
Fish said the former Detroit Lakes School Education Director, Lowell Nicklaus, saw the problem and worked to fix it.
“He deserves the credit for keeping a fixed GED testing lab in Detroit Lakes,” Fish said.
A fixed testing lab was important, and the goal was achieved. But, the lab came at more of a cost than just setting up a testing room and having the equipment. Fish explained the desktop computers were spaced apart to prevent collaboration, and the educational posters had to be removed from the walls. The room’s setup limited how the adult education program could use the space.
“We could no longer do science or math projects,” Fish said. “But, we had GED testing in Detroit Lakes, which was very important because Fergus Falls no longer had GED testing, Moorhead no longer had GED testing, Alexandria no longer had GED testing … ”
The program got wind of a possible mobile GED lab, and began working to turn the dream into a reality. The mobile testing program was initially supposed to roll out in 2019, as well as fixed GED testing sites in Moorhead and Mahnomen.
“And then COVID changed everything,” Fish said.
When restrictions having to do with COVID-19 were lifted, the mobile GED testing was offered to 10 cities in an adult education consortium with Detroit Lakes, including the school districts of Lake Park-Audubon, Perham-Dent, Frazee-Vergas, New York Mills, Pelican Rapids, Ulen-Hitterdal Norman County East, Ada-Borup-West and Rothsay.
The consortium means the Detroit Lakes program is the fiscal agent and manager and tackles the required state reporting.
“There is a lot of geography to cover in the consortium,” Fish said, adding those in the group are provided with notifications when GED test days are scheduled and seats are available.
Since the GED lab went mobile, Fish said, tests have been administered in Callaway, Fergus Falls, the industrial park in Perham, the Becker County Jail and more. She also reported the mobile lab has resulted in a noticeable increase in people taking the GED test.