Situation: Tena is 17 years old and seven months pregnant. Her guidance counselor is worried that having a baby and going to school will be too much for Tena to handle and wants her to get her General Equivalency Diploma (GED) instead.
Question: Does Tena have to leave her school and get her GED instead?
Answer: No. Tena has the legal right to stay at her school, no matter what reasons are given by her guidance counselor or any other school employee for her to leave. 34 C.F.R. § 106.40(b)(1).
Schools cannot pressure pregnant or parenting students into attending alternative programs. The decision to leave school and attend an alternative program is entirely up to the teen. 34 C.F.R. § 106.40(b)(3).
To learn more about taking the GED, refer to the “Resources” section at the end of this booklet, under the subsection titled “Education.”
What is the GED?
The GED (General Equivalency Diploma) is the equivalent of a high school diploma. Instead of getting a regular high school diploma, the GED requires a student to pass an exam. The GED has content sections including language arts, mathematical reasoning, science, and social studies. A student must pass all sections of the test to receive their GED. The test is administered in English, Spanish, French, Braille, large print, and audio cassette formats. There is also an option to take the English as a Second Language (ESL) test to demonstrate a reasonable fluency in English. You may be able to get an accommodation for the test if you are pregnant, but you may need to alert the center ahead of time and find out your options.
A student may take the GED if she meets a set of requirements set up by the State Board of Education. Only Maryland residents are eligible to take the GED test in Maryland. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, must not be enrolled in or attending any school, and must have submitted an Official School Withdrawal Form while registering. While the GED is the equivalent of a high school diploma, many think that it requires a less difficult academic program. In reality, passing the GED exam can be challenging. Additionally, some colleges and employers may think that a high school diploma is more valuable than the GED.