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Iowa achieves nation’s highest passing rate on high school equivalency exam

Date: Monday, September 20, 2021

Iowa’s passing rate ranks highest among 29 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 80.5 percent nationally.

A total of 1,003 Iowans passed the HiSET, which was developed by the nonprofit Educational Testing Service. The HiSET is administered in 25 states, including Iowa, as well as four 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 the quality of adult education and literacy programming provided through Iowa’s 15 community colleges. I commend these students for their hard work and the commitment of the adult education and literacy coordinators and instructors who are helping them take the next steps to postsecondary education, training and careers,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo.

Opportunities to earn a high school equivalency diploma play an important role in helping build Iowa’s talent pipeline for the careers of today and tomorrow, which is key to the Future Ready Iowa initiative that calls for 70 percent of Iowans having 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 $53.75, which includes two re-tests per subject during a 12-month period. The cost to take a single subject test is $10.75.

Passing the HiSET exam is one possible path for Iowans to earn a high school equivalency diploma. Iowa law allows state providers to offer alternative pathways for students to demonstrate competency that would lead to the issuance of high school equivalency diplomas by the Iowa Department of Education. 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 High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) Program page on the Department’s website.