Career Path to National Executive Director of HiSET
Amy Riker is the National Executive Director of the HiSET program, the new high school equivalency test. The following is a profile of Riker’s career path along with information about the HiSET program:
What career path led to your profession (National Executive Director of HiSET)?
I have been fortunate to work at Educational Testing Service (ETS) for over 10 years. I have a Master’s in Adult Education and prior to ETS entering the high school equivalency assessment market, I volunteered my time in Pennsylvania tutoring at-risk, out-of-school youth and adults for the essay portion of the GED test. When states approached ETS about the changes occurring with the GED test and asked if we would create a test for high school equivalency, I was offered the opportunity to work on the development team and operationalize the program.
What educational background and/or professional training are essential for this profession?
Understanding adult education and the department of corrections is essential. I personally have a Masters in Adult Education and I am working on a Doctorate in Management. Many of the other leaders on my team have Master degrees in education, business, and public policy.
What influenced you to pursue a career in your profession?
I was working at ETS when I decided I loved teaching adults. ETS is a non-profit organization and encourages employees to volunteer and give back to their communities. This led me to tutoring and, eventually, working to bring the HiSET exam as an option for students to take to earn their high school equivalency credential.
What professional, civic or community organization do you belong?
I belong to a number of organizations. Some of them are: Connecticut Education Association, Commission On Adult Basic Education, Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education, The American Council on Education, and the Louisiana Association for Public, Community and Adult Education.
What advice do you give to students who desire to pursue a career as an Executive Director?
Be ready and motivated to work hard. As an executive director, you’re a leader of people, so you must be willing to do any task you’re asking other to do, that builds trust. Your integrity is most important – always be honest and authentic with your customers and professional colleagues, and also with your co-workers. When you give feedback to your peers, make sure it’s something actionable.
HiSET is the nation’s fastest growing high school equivalency test. HiSET has been adopted in more than 20 states as a replacement to the GED test or an alternative to the GED test. No one has ever earned a GED. Students earn a state-issued high school equivalency credential when they pass a high school equivalency test. As the only non-profit organization in this market, ETS is committed to remaining the least expensive and most accessible option available. Students must pass a 5 content area (Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies) assessment to earn their credential. HiSET is available in both paper and computer formats and English and Spanish.
Why was HiSET established?
When ACE and PearsonVUE entered into a joint venture called the GED Testing Service, they announced changes to the test. They were offering computer-only testing, a price of over $200 (was previously about $55) and moved the test to align with standards that had not been implemented in all high schools, a consortium of concerned states contacted ETS asking us to create a high school equivalency test. HiSET aligns with ETS’s mission to advance education for all and continues to be a mission-aligned program.
What has been the success of the program?
HiSET works with the states, adult educators, testing centers and departments of correction. We listen to their needs and continue evolving our program to meet their needs. We view our work as a partnership between states, educators and testing centers and our team at ETS. We make decisions concerning the test based on mutual agreement. It’s the team-focused approach that I believe has led to HiSET’s expansion.
What is your typical work schedule?
I typically work seven days a week. I travel about 75 percent of my time to meetings and conferences across the nation to present, meet with state officials, train educators, department of corrections staff and testing center staff. My work phone number is my cell phone and I am accessible via email form around 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. I love the opportunity to work at ETS and on HiSET, helping people reach their goals and change their life.
Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of 12 books: Jacob’s Dream! “A Lesson on Numbers and Birds,” “Jacob’s Dream! A Lesson on Alphabets and Continents,” “How to Eradicate Bullying,” “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education,” “How to Eradicate Hazing,” “Professional Career Paths,” “Your Answers to Education Questions,” “How to revitalize the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.” “Completing the Dissertation: Tips, techniques and real-life experiences from Ph.D. graduates.” “Jacob’s Dream, A Story of Careers for Children” and Jacob’s Dream, A Story of Animals in Africa. He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected]