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Arkansas' top 25 GED test scorers celebrated at ceremony

 The Top 25 Scorers of the 2023 GED Exam in Arkansas
Nathan Treece
Little Rock Public Radio
The Top 25 Scorers of the 2023 GED Exam in Arkansas

A ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol Wednesday celebrated the top 25 test scores of the 2023 General Education Development, or GED, exam, administered by the state Division of Workforce Services.

For the 2023 exam, more than 3,100 students completed the test, with over 2,600 passing. Cody Waits, Director of the Arkansas Workforce Connection Division, says the 86% pass rate puts the state fourth in the nation among GED pass rates.

"What that tells me is that the 25 of you sitting here today aren't just high-level achievers here in our state, but you're high-level achievers across the entire nation. And that's something you should be very proud of,” Waits said.

Dr. Trenia Miles, Director of Adult Education at the Division of Workforce Services, says many people don’t realize how difficult it is to complete the GED program.

“When they first did the GED test in 2014, 60% of the high school graduates could not pass it. 60%! So you can definitely hold your head high, and it doesn't really matter how you start, it's how you finish.”

Kellen McDonough was among the top 25, surrounded by friends and family during his big moment. As he walked to accept his award, shouts echoed off the rotunda walls, and McDonough named one person the cornerstone of his support network.

"My dad, he was there every step of the way. He found the program. I was originally skeptical at first, but we sat down and we talked for hours about it, and I just couldn't believe how good it sounded," said McDonough. "The next week I went into the program, and then by the end of that week I was out, and I had my GED.”

McDonough earned his GED at Northwest Arkansas Community College. He aims to get into software engineering and is planning his next steps to continue through college.

Nathan Lane was the top scorer out of the 25 award winners. He says he had been meaning to do this for a long time, and says with his achievement, he feels he should have taken the test sooner.

"An award was not something I particularly had planned on. My goal was to pass, and I was more excited about that than about the admittedly quite nice plaque," said Lane. "It's good to get it out of the way.”

Lane says he hasn’t made any concrete plans for his future yet, as his family may be moving soon, but he is considering a career in pharmacy or phlebotomy.

Copyright 2024 Little Rock Public Radio. To see more, visit Little Rock Public Radio.

Nathan Treece