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Get It Done: GED Instructors Encourage Alaskans to Take Tests before New Year

By Corey Allen-Young, Education Reporter, cyoung@ktuu.com
Published On: Nov 04 2013 10:23:54 PM AKST

Reporter: Corey Allen-Young/Photographer: Rick Schleyer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

More than a 1,000 people in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley start, but don't finish their GED (General Educational Development). 

If those people don't get it done by December 31, then they will have to start back at square one.    

It goes beyond just a piece of paper for Ninestar, an education service that teaches and gives the GED tests. Ninestar helps students that have ranged from 16 to 72 years old get a GED, which can help them with the next level of employment.

The value of a GED is becoming a reality for Omi De La Rosa, 38, who dropped out of high school and has held low-paying jobs for years.

"I gave up, I wasn't really focused on that, I was more focused on what was going on in the streets," said De La Rosa.

He says after getting sick with diabetes, he changed his habits and his outlook on life. 

"I started with my eating, exercise and trying to work on my mind now," said De La Rosa. 

This challenge could prove to be even tougher with new GED standards coming in January. 

Ninestar says those changes include computer based tests, a price increase from $25 to $120 and a change in the skills needed to pass the test.

Currently, a student could pass and retake tests over years. But on December 31, if you don't pass all of them, you have to start from scratch. It’s the reason why officials are trying to get Alaskans who have started the process in the past, back in their building before the end of the year.

"Especially to people we have had in with us in the past, who have maybe just one or two subject tests left," said Kate Lawton, who is Ninestar's assistant director of adult basic education.

Darci Shoemake, 42, knows what it’s like to finally move forward. Last week, she just got her GED after leaving high school more than 20 years ago. 

Despite having cerebral palsy, she was determined to finish. 

"I had to start almost from scratch,” said Shoemake. "You might have your up and downs with the studies, but if you fall down, you get back up and you dust off your knees and try again." 

Ninestar has two official GED testing centers, one in Anchorage and one in Wasilla. 

For information on them, click here.