Community College Academic Achievement and Human Valuation Comparing General Educational Development (GED) Diploma Graduates With Traditional High School (THS) Diploma Graduates

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

John R. Rachal

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


This study centers on the relationship in achievement between students with General Educational Development (GED) diplomas (N = 2,220) and students with traditional high school (THS) diplomas (N = 27,423) enrolled in the 73% of participating community colleges in MS. This design that uses data from official enrollment records is a non-parametric criterion group design of intact groups of students. This design application is used here as an in toto baseline assessment of achievement for state accountability. Over time this design using the same cohort in longitudinal studies in a retrospective aspect can assess a continued relationship on this achievement. The newest generation of GED tests, GED 2002, awaits results of tests on its applicability to achievement in the community college setting and other higher education. Socio-demographic figures illustrate the distribution of institutional, geographic, and personal characteristics of groups of GED and THS diploma graduates. Only significant results for KWANOVA (Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric analysis of ANOVA) and Mann-Whitney (non-parametric analog to the t -test) based on a Bonferroni correction are described. Results of the analyses yielded an effect for admission type overall and an effect for community college on THS diploma graduates but not on GED diploma graduates. Tukey HSD yielded subsets according to these differences. In the population of interest, the effect of GED diploma yielded a higher GPA for GED diploma graduates than for THS diploma graduates. Four variables had a positive effect on achievement for GED diploma graduates: full-time enrollment; first time, first year enrollment; vocational program, and white racial origin. One variable had a positive effect on achievement for THS diploma graduates: Boomers age group, 37-54 year olds. Sixteen variables had no effect on achievement between the two groups: part-time enrollment; all other first year enrollment; academic, technical, ADN, and LPN programs; men; women; Bridgers age group, under 21 years old; Busters age group, 21-36 years old; Builders age group, 55-67 years old; Befores age group, 68 years and older; Black-non-Hispanic racial origin; American Indian racial origin; Asian racial origin; and Hispanic racial origin. This study uses historical and philosophical inquiry and linguistic analysis to probe misuse of the GED. The literature review divides research studies into quantitative and qualitative on the GED diploma and the GED diploma recipient for each of the first three generations of the GED tests. The power of the GED, reasons for dropout behavior, Ten Myths Surrounding the GED, and an Augmentation Model of Transformation (AMT) for GED diploma acquisition are offered.