Revamped requirements to pass General Educational Development tests are causing students prepare for a high school diploma-equivalent test that will feature more real-life knowledge for the world of work.
Nine Star's adult education program has had to adapt its teaching to align with the new standards that follows the nationwide common core curriculum.
In the new GED, students will be required to demonstrate more critical thinking and problem-solving skills that they could use in the real world.
Organizers say this will happen with an emphasis on more essay writing and reasoning in its math, science, reading, and social studies tests.
Skills, adult learners like Eugenio Facchini have had to quickly pick up in order to succeed.
"It's something that's more and more challenging," said the 32-year-old, who moved to Alaska from Italy with his girlfriend last July. "When I arrived here I was talking a few words of English."
Facchini, who used to be a bank teller, says he's starting from zero by getting his GED to find a job in the sales industry.
"My real focus is on language arts and social arts, because it's something that's totally new for me," Facchini said.
The push to revise the GED goes beyond academics, also pushing students to use technology and have computer skills that 21st-century employers are looking for. That's why the new GED program requires its tests to be only done on a computer.
"In the past when a student would be writing an essay in class they would be writing pencil and paper, now we will bringing students to the lab to have them type their essays," said Kate Lawton, Nine Star's assistant director of adult education.
Lawton says the the goal is to help students become more familiar with the skills required.
"How do you scroll, what is a drop-down menu, what do you do when you see a pop-up -- we have clients who don't know," Lawton said.
While teaching and learning continues to be a work in progress for a group that ranges from age 16 to 70, for students like Facchini that's exactly why he's here. No matter how tough the GED process may be, he's putting in the work to get his diploma.
"You have two choices, you give up or you try," Facchini said.
The next round of GED classes at Nine Star will begin April 7. More information on its program and the new GED standards is available on its website.