Educator Ann Wyllie, GED chief examiner

Who she is: The GED Chief Examiner for the Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern VA.

What she does: “Some people just aren’t cut out to finish school in 12 years,” explains Ann Wyllie.” The reasons are often personal, but typical. School isn’t fun for them. Teachers don’t reach or motivate them. Some are afflicted with a disease or injury. Others have situations at home that don’t support the work the public schools are doing.

Why she does it: “It has been proven that GED graduates earn an average of $7,000 more each year and are much less likely to be unemployed than a worker without a GED or diploma,” Wyllie says. “GED graduates are also more likely to be employed full time, and they have the opportunity to go to college or technical school. But what I find incredibly important is the research that shows GED graduates can help their children achieve in school. For anyone who feels like they didn’t succeed, it is terrible for them to think that they’ll pass that on to their kids. By attaining their GED credential, they can alter this pattern and improve the lives of everyone they know and love.”

WE DON’T LOOK BACK, WE LOOK FORWARD

By Hope Katz Gibbs

The GED Chief Examiner in Fairfax County Public Schools, Ann Wyllie has been an educator for more than three decades. In her current role, she was awarded the 2005 Virginia Association for Adult and Continuing Education’s (VAACE) Joan E. D. Kushnir Teacher of the Year award.

The VAACE Teacher of the Year award recognizes exemplary instructional practices and professional service to adult learners in Virginia. The criteria for selection include outstanding contributions in the areas of teaching, curriculum development, innovative methodology, and commitment to professional growth and development.

Wyllie began her career with FCPS in 1990 as a counselor for pregnant and parenting teens and transitioned to teaching adult students needing reading, writing, and math help to finish high school.

Over the years, Wyllie has taught an array of adult basic education courses to a growing and diverse population in both traditional and nontraditional settings including the General Education Development (GED) program; Weekend Learning Lab (WELL) program for adult students and their families, both American and foreign-born; JOBS (Job Opportunities and Basic Skills) program; External Diploma program; Virginia Literacy Passport Test; Learning Center facilitator; Skill Development classes; and Fast Track GED class (Race to GED).

We asked Ann her mission and passion.

Why is the GED program important?

Ann Wyllie: Some people just aren’t cut out to finish school in 12 years. The reasons are often personal, but typical. School isn’t fun for them. Teachers don’t reach or motivate them. Some are afflicted with a disease or injury. Others have situations at home that don’t support the work the public schools are doing.

That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get their high school credential. And that’s why the GED program is so important.

Research shows the people with a high school diploma have more opportunities. Can you share some details with us?

Ann Wyllie: Most definitely. It has been proven that GED graduates earn an average of $7,000 more each year and are much less likely to be unemployed than a worker without a GED or diploma. GED graduates are also more likely to be employed full time, and they have the opportunity to go to college or technical school.

Additionally, GED graduates are qualified for greater responsibilities and promotions, and are likely to receive job-specific technical skills training.

But what I find incredibly important is the research that shows GED graduates can help their children achieve in school. For anyone who feels like they didn’t succeed, it is terrible for them to think that they’ll pass that on to their kids. By attaining their GED credential, they can alter this pattern and improve the lives of everyone they know and love.

We understand that some pretty famous people didn’t finish high school.

Ann Wyllie: That’s absolutely right. There’s no shame in knowing that you need to finish high school, one way or anther. Others who earned their GED credential include comedian Bill Cosby, Dave Thomas of Wendy’s, actress Alicia Silverstone, country western singer Gretchen Wilson, actors Michael J Fox and Christian Slater, Food Network Chef Bobby Flay, and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the former U.S. Senator from Colorado.

How does the program work?

Ann Wyllie: The General Educational Development (GED) test gives students an opportunity to complete their high school credential and move forward to post secondary or training centers. Once completed, a GED credential shows colleges and employers that a person has the skills that are expected of a high school graduate.

The GED tests cover the five subjects that are taught in high school: Language Arts, Writing and Reading; Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics. Each test and section are timed based on the difficulty of each section.

As the test taker, you are not required to know all the information that is usually taught in high school. However, you will be tested on your ability to read and process information, solve problems, and communicate effectively.

Tell us more about the specifics of how the GED tests work.

Ann Wyllie: The GED tests cover the five subjects that are taught in high school: Language Arts, Writing and Reading; Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics.

The Language Arts Writing test has 50 questions and will ask you to detect and correct common errors in edited American English, the version of our language that has come to be the standard for written public discourse for newspapers and books and for most of the writing you do in school and on the job.

  • The Language Arts Reading test has passages in Non fiction texts and in Literary Texts which includes prose fiction, poetry, and drama.
  • The Language Arts Writing test includes questions on sentence structure, organization, usage and mechanics. You will be asked to write the first draft of an expository essay on an assigned topic. You will also be asked to decide on the most effective organization for the text, and offer your opinion or an explanation on a single topic of general knowledge. You will have 2 hours to complete this test.

The Mathematics test has 50 questions. You will be asked to show your understanding of numbers and mathematical operations, geometry, measurement and data analysis and algebra. This test also includes a variety of word problems (many with graphics) using basic computation, analytical and reasoning skills. For 25 of those questions you can use a calculator, but for the remaining 25 you will be permitted to work out the problems using a pen and paper. You will have 90 minutes to complete this test.

The Social Studies test includes questions on U.S. History, World History, Civics and Government, Economics and Geography.

The Science test includes questions about Life Science, Earth and Space Science and Physical Science.

Learn more about the GED test by clicking here.

Get details about Test Guidelines here.

Find out how to get your transcripts here.

Contact Ann Wyllie, GED Chief Examiner for Fairfax County Public Schools:
Ann.Wyllie@fcps.edu • 703-503-6441


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