Alt Title

The social value of the General Education Development

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Cunningham, Phyllis M.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


General educational development tests--United States--Public opinion; High school equivalency examinations--United States--Public opinion; Adult education--United States


This study was conducted to explore the meanings that GED students and teachers make of the General Educational Development (GED) certificate. This study specifically explored the social value of the GED for students and teachers. This study then analyzed empirical research on the performance outcomes of GED acquisition. Empirical research provided a foundation for a comparison of meaning and quantified outcome. The meanings of the students and the empirical outcomes focused narrowly on career, self-esteem and higher education. The perceptions of students and teachers were then compared to see whether the demonstrated performance outcomes of the GED matched the meanings of the GED of a selected group of Illinois GED students and teachers. The study shows that empirical data on GED performance outcomes contradicts the social value meanings of GED students and teachers for economic and educational improvement. Self-esteem, a social value for students and teachers, was supported by extant empirical data. The phenomenological study of two stakeholder groups, GED students and teachers, was conducted by unstructured interviews with members of each group (students, teachers). The qualitative inquiry provided a conduit to evoke meanings about the GED credential and its social value to them. Conclusions drawn from the study were that GED students and teachers place high social value on the GED as a credential for economic mobility, enhanced self-esteem, and success in higher education. However, existing research data on the GED provided sufficient indicators to suggest that GED recipients do not fare as well as high school graduates academically or economically, and that the increasing presence of the GED requires a close scrutiny of its value in the American educational and economic market systems.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [135]-153)


v, 164 pages




Northern Illinois University

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