Iowa achieves nation’s highest passing rate on high school equivalency exam
Iowa’s passing rate ranks highest among 27 states and U.S. territories using the HiSET high school equivalency exam
DES MOINES - Among states and U.S. territories that use HiSET, a high school equivalency exam, Iowa ranks the highest for the percent of individuals who passed the test. Last year, 95.9 percent of Iowans seeking a high school equivalency diploma passed the exam compared to 76.5 percent nationally.
A total of 1,581 Iowans passed the HiSET, which was developed by the nonprofit Educational Testing Service. The HiSET is administered in 27 states, including Iowa, as well as several U.S. territories.
The HiSET has served as the state-approved test since 2014. The exam measures the knowledge and proficiency equivalent to those of an Iowa high school graduate.
“Achieving the highest passing rate on the HiSET is a testament to these hard-working Iowans and to the quality of the 15 adult education and literacy programs that support them,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise.
“Earning a high school equivalency diploma opens doors to better employment, training and postsecondary education opportunities,” Wise said. “These opportunities are integral to the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which calls for 70 percent of Iowans to have education or training beyond high school by 2025.”
The exam, which is offered both online and in written formats, has five subtests: reading, writing/essay, social studies, science and math. The cost to take all five subject area tests is currently $50, which includes two re-tests per subject during a 12-month period. The cost to take a single subject test is $10. The total cost for all the tests will go up to $53.75 in 2019.
ETS was recently awarded an extended contract through a competitive bidding process, which retains the HiSET as the state-approved test for demonstrating competency for Iowans to earn a high school equivalency diploma. The new contract is effective through 2021, and provides the option of one-year extensions through 2025.
Passing the HiSET exam is one possible path for Iowans to earn a high school equivalency diploma. Last year the Iowa legislature passed a bill permitting state providers to offer alternative pathways for students to demonstrate competency that would lead to the issuance of high school equivalency diplomas by the Department. In addition to passing the state-approved exam, providers may offer high school equivalency diplomas based on the attainment of high school credit, postsecondary degree, or foreign postsecondary degree.
For more information, visit the Department’s website.