The General Equivalency Development (GED) tests were first developed during World War II to provide returning veterans who had not earned a high school diploma before entering military service with an opportunity to earn a high school credential. The purpose of the GED tests, essentially unchanged for more than 50 years, is to measure the academic skills and knowledge developed in a high school education in the core content areas of United States and Canadian high school curricula. GED holders have higher participation rates in the workforce, higher wages, and substantially higher literacy skills than high school dropouts.
GED test-takers are a richly diverse group. Some have recently dropped out of school and others have been out for several years. Anyone 16 years or older and out of school can take the examination. Although no formal preparation is required, preparatory classes are available in a variety of settings including through cable or public television programs and formal programs at traditional educational institutions, including community colleges.
The GED credential reflects the attainment of basic academic skills and literacy proficiencies widely viewed as necessary for social and economic advancement and for exercising the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Since its inception, the GED has served as a bridge to education and employment opportunities for millions of adults. For some, the GED is their only avenue to those opportunities. One out of twenty first-year college students holds a GED credential, and many of these are in community colleges.
Community colleges traditionally have defined themselves as open-door institutions, "democracy’s colleges," places for second chances or new opportunities. As such, community colleges have welcomed individuals holding GED credentials, acknowledging not only the credential itself but also the personal qualities such as motivation that it represents.
Given this tradition and our commitment to lifelong learning, the American Association of Community Colleges reaffirms the value of the GED as a mechanism to ensure access to postsecondary education, and recommends that community colleges continue to accept GED students.
Adopted by the Board of Directors November 1998