DETROIT LAKES — Detroit Lakes Adult Education has one of the first pilot programs in the state to offer a mobile GED testing lab, according to Amy Fish, director of the Lakes Area Adult Education Program.
She reported that a US$6,000 grant from the United Way helped purchase 10 laptops and other supplies needed.
“There’s no way this would have happened without United Way or someone to step in,” Fish said, adding that 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 largest testing companies in the world, and GED testing is just a small part of what they offer,” Fish said.
She explained that years ago, when GED testing was done with pencil and paper, there were numerous testing sites. However, computer-based GED testing became the norm and Pearson VUE was commissioned to offer the GED testing in 2014. Fish said that by this time, most rural testing centers were closing due to the significant costs involved in meeting Pearson VUE’s high standards of testing sites. This meant that metropolitan areas had easily accessible locations to take a GED test, while the outlying areas were geographically disadvantaged.
Adult education in the Detroit Lakes area is part of a 10 school district consortium that offers GED testing and a mobile GED lab opportunity.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
Fish said former Detroit Lakes School director of education Lowell Nicklaus saw the problem and worked to fix it.
“He deserves credit for maintaining a permanent GED testing lab in Detroit Lakes,” Fish said.
A permanent testing laboratory was important and the goal was achieved. But the lab involved more expense than just setting up a testing room and having the equipment. Fish explained that the desktop computers were separated from each other to prevent them from working together and that the reconnaissance posters had to be removed from the walls. The furnishing of the room restricted the possibilities of using the adult education program.
“We couldn’t do any more science or math projects,” Fish said. “But we had GEDs in Detroit Lakes, which was very important because Fergus Falls didn’t have GEDs anymore, Moorhead didn’t have GEDs anymore, Alexandria didn’t have GEDs anymore…”
The program got wind of a possible mobile GED lab and began working to make the dream a reality. The mobile testing program was originally scheduled to roll out in 2019, as would fixed GED testing sites in Moorhead and Mahnomen.
“And then COVID changed everything,” Fish said.
When COVID-19-related restrictions were lifted, the mobile GED test was offered to 10 cities in an adult education consortium with Detroit Lakes, including Lake Park-Audubon, Perham-Dent, Frazee-Vergas, New York Mills school districts, Pelican Rapids, Ulen-Hitterdal Norman County East, Ada-Borup-West and Rothsay.
A $6,000 grant from the United Way helped purchase 10 laptops and other supplies needed for GED’s mobile testing lab.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
The consortium means the Detroit Lakes program is the fiscal agent and manager and will handle the required government reporting.
“The consortium needs to cover many geographic areas,” Fish said, adding that group members will be notified when GED testing days are scheduled and spaces become available.
Since the GED lab went mobile, Fish said, tests have been conducted at Callaway, Fergus Falls, the Perham Industrial Park, the Becker County Jail, and others. She also reported that the mobile lab has led to a noticeable increase in people taking the GED test.