Montana LINCS Update


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1.   Distance Learning Research #10:  Can Distance Learning Help Stopout Students?


Montana ABLE staff understand that many times students need to “stop out” for a variety of reasons.  Programs attempt to make contact on a regular basis to re-engage stopouts.  Some programs are using Distance Learning to keep participants engaged.  Since the Distance Learning design is fairly new for most Montana ABLE programs, we may want to look at an example of a program that has been in existence for 18 years in Florida.



The Seminole Community College (SCC) in Sanford, Altamonte Springs, Florida, has been using the GED Home Study/GED Online for the past 18 years.  Many of the students who choose Home Study have non-traditional work schedules, no transportation options, family obligations, chronic illnesses, or a lack of the funds or the resources for childcare.  Still others have never felt comfortable in a classroom setting … During its first 18 years, SCC's GED distance learning program accepted almost everyone. However, the program's lower-level students were experiencing frustration and failure; almost 60 percent dropped out each term. So, in 2003 eligibility criteria were instituted. To be eligible, SCC GED Home Study/GED Online students must score grade-level 9.0 for reading and grade-level 6.0 for math and language on Form D of the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE). 



… Nearly one third of the GED Home Study/GED Online program's 115 participants have come from the traditional campus classrooms. Whenever students communicate to their instructors that something has or is going to disrupt their lives, instructors can refer them to the GED Home Study/GED Online Program. Through Home Study, students can keep up with their GED studies while taking care of their immediate or imminent problems.



The potential of the GED Home Study/GED Online program seems limitless. In reality, SCC's Home Study program is plagued by many of the same problems that traditional classrooms face. The program now has an annual dropout rate of 40 percent. As researcher Alisa Belzer (1998) writes, "The question of how to improve student retention cannot be solved with simple or single answers. The same obstacles or supports can create different outcomes for different students. Since often many complicated and interrelated factors are involved in the decision to continue participation in a program, a simple or single solution may make no difference."

SCC's GED Home Study/GED Online Program is neither simple nor does it offer a single solution to the overwhelming challenge of adult student retention. Although the program eliminates many of the obstacles adult students face, it does not eliminate the need for motivation, self discipline, and the time needed to do the work.


McLellan Schoneck, Lauri.  “Distance Learning as a Backup.” Focus on Basics:  Volume 8, Issue C, November 2006.


Based on the above information, Montana ABLE can see that Distance Learning still presents challenges regarding student stopouts. 



If you have implemented a Distance Learning program or are in the process of implementing one, have you seen similar challenges?  If so, what have you done to problem-solve those obstacles?


Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.


2.   Content Standards Montana ABLE Program Highlights


National Diffusion of the Standards-In-Action Innovations Program


Click here .


3.   ESL Resource:  Census Activity


To help your adult ESL students understand the concept, importance, safety of the Census, and how to fill out the form, here is a 2-part Lesson Plan with a variety of activities for Low-Beginning to Intermediate students.

I developed it for my adult Latino immigrant classroom AND for Refugee Transition’s in-home tutoring program.

Linda-Marie Koza

San Francisco CA 94118



4.   GED:  Research on the Economic Impact of the GED Diploma Panel Discussion


This panel discussion focused on the economic benefits that accrue to holders of the General Educational Development (GED) credential. It was based on a review by John Tyler of eight recent (published and working) research papers on the GED. Several of these papers were authored by John Tyler, Richard Murnane, and John Willett, researchers with the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) whose work has influenced what we know about the economic benefits of the GED.

To watch the webcast, visit


5.   Math Resource


The Importance of Algebra for Everyone

World Education (P. Donovan)

Tricia Donovan’s article, “The Importance of Algebra for Everyone,” discusses how algebraic thinking can be taught to ABE, Pre-GED, and ESOL students. The article summarizes the importance of numeracy for success in college and as citizens in the 21st century.

6.   Reading Discussion


Join the Discussion: Reading and Writing Skills of ABE Transition Learners


March 22-26, the Institute will host the second of four Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles (ASRP) special online discussions. Part two will address Reading and Writing Skills of ABE Transition Learners at ASRP forums are presented in cooperation with the Institute’s LINCS Discussion Lists and will be led by content-area experts. ASRP, an online resource, provides research-based assessment strategies to improve reading instruction for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Adult Secondary Education (ASE) learners. Visit for more information.

7.   Reading Resource


Affecting Change in Literacy Practices: Impact of Two Dimensions of Instruction

National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (V. Purcell-Gates, S. Degener, E. Jacobson, & M. Soler)

Motivated by issues of intergenerational literacy, the researchers investigated the extent to which the use of authentic materials and the level of collaboration between students and teachers affect learners' literacy practices outside the classroom. The researchers used mixed methods and provide data as well as learner snapshots in this resource.


8.   Workforce Education Resource


Strategies for Success in Career Development: The Career Coach Curriculum Guide

Women Employed (C. Van Slyke & K. Lamb)

This thorough, concise, and well-organized career development curriculum is appropriate for instructors and other service providers who work with mid- to higher-level adult learners in the process of choosing a career, changing a career, or exploring education options that match their goals.


P.S.  Remember -- if you are having trouble with the links in this email, go to the Email Archives at the top of the MTLINCS homepage at .  Also if you no longer wish to receive this mailing, please let me know!  Thanks!


Norene Peterson
Adult Education Center
415 N. 30th
Billings, MT 59101