The number of U.S. dropouts who received a GED high school diploma dropped by 3.1 percent last year, but test officials predict a surge in recipients before an update of the 59-year-old testing and diploma program is introduced in January.
The high school equivalency diplomas were awarded to 500,520 Americans in 2000.
The record year for graduates remains 1996, when 524,535 U.S. adults received GED.
The GED survey was released today by the Washington-based American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 institutions, groups and companies involved in higher education.
The drop in GED graduates occurred despite stepped-up promotion of GED testing, but officials predict a record number of diplomas will be handed out by the year's end.
"For sure, we'll see a jump," said Susan Porter Robinson, who oversees the GED Testing Service for the ACE. "In 1987, the year before the last generation (of GED tests) was introduced, we saw a jump in the numbers."
That's because anyone who has taken some, but not all, current tests toward the GED must do so by Dec. 31 to have them all count. If not, they'll need to take all the new tests after Jan. 1.