Eighteen-thousand New Yorkers have taken the GED exam but not yet passed all five sections, and they'd better hurry up, because they have until January 1, or they'll have to start all over again. Several government agencies and nonprofits are working to make sure many of these people finish before the end of the year. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Emily Garcia needed a push from her mother, Marisol Rodriguez, in order to complete her GED.
"I stopped. I didn't go to school. I didn't do anything. I'm like, 'I'm giving up,'" she said. "So my mom one day was like, 'No, no, no, no, no. You have a daughter. You have to do what you have to do for you and your daughter.'"
She needed to pass the math section of the GED test for her high school equivalency diploma. She'd already passed the other four parts.
"Those scores would go out the window if I took it in 2014," Garcia said.
That's because the GED is changing nationwide as of January 1. In New York, it's changing even more.
"People who have started down the road to getting a GED need to finish quickly while we're still playing under the same set of rules," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
New York will be the first state to replace the GED with a different exam. Students who didn't finish high school but want a diploma will take the TASC test starting in 2014.
Government agencies and nonprofits have been trying to get the word out under the leadership of the Fund for Public Advocacy.
The fund has raised enough money to help 500 young adults who've started the process finish it before the end of the year. Twelve community-based organizations are helping, getting $500 per student to help them with whatever they need, whether it's tutoring, counseling or even a MetroCard.
On Friday, they celebrated the first 25 in the program to earn their diplomas. Students said the tutoring and support were a big help.
"What East Side House did for me, if I missed a day, they actually called and they would even show up to your house and tell you, 'Come on. You got to show up. You dedicated yourself to this. You actually have to do something,'" said Emmanuel Santiago, a GED recipient. "And that's what I liked about them. They help you. They give you that push you need."
And that mom who convinced her daughter to finish for her daughter's sake?
I said, 'You know what? I'm not going to be scared no more. I'm getting old. I want to go for my GED,'" Rodriguez said.
"She took it," Garcia said. "I told her she's going to do great at it because she's smart. She helped me with my math."
Rodriguez took it with her daughter and almost passed. She's now determined to finish before the end of the year.
"I'm going to college. I want to become a chef, a pastry chef," Rodriguez said. "I want to bake cakes and all that for everybody. Sweet, sweet sweets for the whole New York."