AUGUSTA — Maine education officials are dropping the long-running General Educational Development high school equivalency test – which will switch to an electronic-only format in January – for another test that can be taken on paper or on a computer.

The new test, from Educational Testing Service, covers the same content and is less expensive than the new GED electronic tests, according to a statement from the Maine Department of Education.

Although taking a high school equivalency test is free for Maine students, the state cost for the GED test was set to jump from the current $42 per test to $120 per test in January. About 3,500 Mainers take the high school equivalency test every year, and about two-thirds of them pass.

In recent weeks, as more states sought alternatives to the new electronic test from GED Testing Service, the price has dropped to $80 per test. The new ETS test will cost about $50.

Switching companies also avoids another drawback of staying with GED Testing Service: Any pencil-and-paper GED subject area test taken before January would not have counted, forcing students to take those tests again. ETS will be able to incorporate those previous scores.

In recent months, New Hampshire, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Tennessee have also selected the ETS test, known as HiSET, to replace the GED high school equivalency exam.

Students can take the current GED in English, French or Spanish; the ETS test is offered in English or Spanish.

“The decision to use the ETS HiSET put a lot of local programs’ minds at ease and our students’ learning first,” said Bill Grant, president of the Maine Adult Education Association and director of Auburn Adult Education. “The state selected a rigorous and respected test that is reasonably priced, and was mindful of the spending required by local school departments for new testing materials and technology for testing.”

The Princeton, New Jersey-based ETS is a nonprofit created in 1947 that develops, administers and scores tests worldwide, and develops and administers the SAT and Advanced Placement exams on behalf of the College Board.

The American Council on Education, or ACE, created the GED test in 1942 and has run the testing program ever since. ACE entered into a joint venture with education publisher Pearson in 2011 to create the new GED Testing Service, which administers the new electronic test.

Maine has 76 high school equivalency testing sites.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com