Montana ­­­LIN­­­CS Update


Greetings from Montana LINCS

  Problems with the links in the email?

Go to the Email Archives in the upper left-hand corner on the home page at

Montana Information

1.     HiSET Blast



ETS statement on HiSET Standards Setting Governing Board  

Educational Testing Service is committed to the provision of a high quality, effective High School Equivalency Test (HiSET). To achieve this goal, we have partnered with the adult-education administration in states that use HiSET. ETS has appointed a HiSET Governing Board to help us set overall direction for the program, including the setting of standards for performance through a systematic and established standards review process.  The Governing Board has a senior-level representative from each state administering HiSET.

ETS conducted a HiSET standard setting in April 2014 which included educators from classrooms in 11th and 12th grade, adult education, and correctional facilities across the country.  The standard setting panel provided a performance standard recommendation for each of the subject areas.  In June 2014, the Governing Board met and reviewed these recommendations along with information about the current standards and test-taker performance to date.  As a result of this review, the Governing Board recommended to ETS an adjusted passing score, which ETS accepted and will implement by August 2014. While the passing scaled score will remain the same, the raw score on each test that maps to that scaled score will change.  

The adoption of a revised passing score is consistent with HiSET’s commitment to a phased approach to increased rigor over time.  The ETS HiSET program is a partnership with our states and continues to meet changing expectations for high school graduates and what is needed to enter the workforce or college.

Montana Note: 

Above is a an official statement from ETS regarding the scale score change scheduled for HiSET. I was honored to be part of the Governing Board meeting, and I can assure you this decision was made with careful consideration of the standards setting panel recommendations and state policies. All HiSET states had representation at the Board meeting. It was inspiring to see the ETS and state commitment to adult students.

Please call me (Margaret Bowles) if you have any questions.

Margaret Bowles, State HiSET Administrator



HiSET® eUpdate | June 2014


State-authorized Examination Letter Issued by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education

Acting Assistant Secretary of Postsecondary Education Brenda Dann-Messier recently issued guidance to higher education institutions on the acceptance of the HiSET® exam for Federal student financial aid purposes. The letter (see link below) explains that the HiSET exam is a new high school equivalency assessment launched in 2014, and outlines how an applicant should respond to the 2013–2014 and 2014–2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if they have a HiSET credential.

HiSET Test Preparation — Official Computer-Based Test Preparation Curriculum from Aztec Software

For more than 35 years, Aztec Software® has been in the business of improving the lives of adults and young adults through computerized academic skills remediation. With the release of its newest suite of high-tech educational solutions, the ETS/Aztec partnership reinvents the student-teacher relationship by creating the most student-centric learning environment ever. In conjunction with their release of the computer-based official HiSET Practice Tests, Aztec is now recognized by the ETS HiSET program as an official provider of HiSET test preparation, with lessons targeted to meet individual student needs.

Test Center Reminders

Please make sure you choose the appropriate status (Checked In/Could Not Test/No Show) for test takers by 11:59 p.m. each day.

A few helpful examples on appropriate status:

·        If a test taker shows up with invalid ID and is turned away from testing, they should be considered a "No Show" in the system, as they did not show up prepared.

·        If a test taker is unable to test due to a facilities issue, their status should be "Could Not Test," as the situation was out of the test taker's control and would not impact their eligibility to schedule a new appointment.

Test Administration Services

For CBT Centers:

·        Please double check to make sure you are launching a live exam to a candidate's workstation and not a demo exam.

·        Demo exams cannot be scored, and will result in a test taker needing to reschedule and come back to test again.

For PBT Centers:

·        Remember to return answer sheets promptly, and ensure their completeness prior to sending to ETS. Improperly completed or delayed answer sheets will result in a delay to scoring.

·        Also remember that answer sheets should be completed in pencil.

Save the Date — 2014 HiSET Conference

The first HiSET conference will include valuable information and resources for state administrators, educators, test center staff and corrections staff.



December 1–4, 2014


The Venetian
3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

More information will be available soon.

For more information about the HiSET program, contact us.

Phone toll-free:

General Information



Check out the shared resources on the HiSET Resource page at

Remember:  The resources below are teacher-designed resources that may be changed as teachers learn more by experience with HiSET and more vendor HiSET materials become available.

Have you created or found any resources that you are willing to share?  Please email them to MTLINCS.

2.  Montana Career Pathways:  Moving Pathways Forward

Career Pathways was a hot topic at the National LINCS meeting.  More information will be coming regarding Montana’s role as one of the 14 states selected to receive a Moving Pathways Forward “grant”.                           

State Benefits and Outcomes from Participation in Intensive Technical Assistance for Moving Pathways Forward

State teams that participate will receive:

§  Customized technical assistance to enhance and/or expand existing career pathways system activities;

§  Subject matter expertise to assist in addressing state-specific challenges;  

§  Access to resources, tools, and guidance based on their state’s individual needs;

§  Opportunities to share with and learn from other states in similar or more advanced stages of career pathways systems development; and

§  Heightened public awareness of their state’s efforts from participating in a national career pathways initiative.

By the end of the project, states that participate in intensive technical assistance can expect to:

§  Have all essential components of a state career pathways system in place;

§  Align adult education career pathways with at least one other state agency’s career pathways activities,

§  Increase the number of local programs providing career pathways services; and

§  Strengthen the breadth and depth of career pathways services available to students

3.  National News Impacting Montana:  WIOA (formerly WIA)

Information from Art Ellison

The US House is scheduled to vote this Wednesday on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that would replace the current Workforce Development Act. If the House approves the bill, as we anticipate, it will mark the end of the long ten year political process in which we have all been involved.

With the passage of the bill we will begin the very important work of developing new state plans that will determine the future role of our adult education systems.

National Information

4.  Career Pathways:  Webinar - Skills in Demand: Preparing Students for the High Growth Jobs of the Future – July 10 at 1 p.m. EST

Taken from Career Pathways

Content provided by Microsoft.

This webinar takes place on July 10, 2014 @ 1 p.m. ET
Register for this webinar now.

School district and state level education leaders are charged with developing and administering educational curricula to best prepare students for their futures. Yet there can be tension between a curriculum that develops a "well-rounded" student and a curriculum that helps create a student who is "job or career ready." 

Join us for this webinar when our guests will: 

• Identify the 20 most common skills required across nearly 15 million job postings.

• Illustrate the importance of those skills to high growth, high paying positions that represent nearly 30% of the job growth between 2010 and 2020.

• Describe those essential skills in the context of curriculum reform and show how they are consistent with most common educational improvement initiatives today.

• Provide examples of how those essential skills can be taught and reinforced in most classroom environments using readily available technology tools.


• Cushing Anderson, program vice president, project-based services, International Data Corporation 
• Ashanka Iddya, education solution specialist, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corporation
• Sean Herdman, associate publisher, Education Week

Click here to Register for this webinar now.

5.  College Success

Taken from LINCS Adult English Language Learners

Click here to access information:

Heritage University's Institute of Student Identity and Success is focused on finding and sharing promising classroom practices for increased success by first-generation students.  Some years ago they began conducting interview-based research along with intensified review of the literature on college teaching and first-generation students. The research identified four key elements of college student success which are especially crucial for first-generation students: 1) Engaged Learning; 2) Confidence in their ability to succeed; 3) Bonding with their college peers, faculty, and institution; and 4) Vision of where their education can take them. They have recently released a series of 3-4 minute videos profiling breakthrough strategies that have shown promise.  

These videos include topics like - Time and Place to Study, Building Student Confidence, Using Analogies, and Embracing an Academic Identity.

They also have a well-curated list of  additional references HERE

~ Priyanka Sharma 

6.  Correctional Education:  Myth-busting

Taken from LINCS Correctional Education

The new Reentry MythBusters from the Reentry Council are here!  Click on the titles to access the information.

·        On Information Technology Access

Snippet #1

Myth:  Incarcerated persons should never be allowed internet access because it creates an unreasonable risk to public and to the institutional security.

Fact:  Internet access can be limited rather than prohibited. Incarcerated persons may be able to use Web-enabled resources to assist them in preparing for post-release success.

·        On Education Technology in Juvenile Facilities

-- Heather Erwin

7.  CSAL Reading Resources:  Readability

Taken from Adult English Language Learners

More snippets from this discussion at

Snippet #1

I realize you are using a new kind of readability index at CSAL; however, I came across an article and a blog post by eminent researchers in the field of literacy that question the entire enterprise of such indexes.  In short, there is no real evidence that such indexes work in the way many think they do: Daniel T. Willingham (; Tim Shanahan (  What I think an over-reliance on such indexes do is underestimate the capability of adult readers.  For example, your "Hard" section in the library is, I think, far too easy--especially if such selection are being read with tutors/teachers.  I also strongly object to the terms "real-life stories" and "made-up stories."  Adults, even if they are reading at 3-8 grade levels (such levels are not without their own problems/inaccuracies) are not children, and I don't think we've really found a way to teach struggling adult readers as such.  

John Schlueter

Snippet #2

While I agree that readability formulas have their drawbacks, they can serve as a starting point to help teachers select texts for students. Other factors that teachers usually consider are student interest and the purpose for reading. Many students can read a higher level text if they are interested in the topic. Also, readability formulas are generally thought of as a predictor of how well the student can "read" a text but not really a predictor of how well a student will comprehend. A student who is a good decoder might be able to read one of the "harder" texts in the library but not necessarily understand what he or she has read. As for the categories of easier, medium, and harder, teachers would likely preview the texts before using them with their students and thus make the final determination as to whether the text is suitable for a particular student or groups of students. In short, readability formulas are a helpful tool but teacher wisdom is what will determine which text is right for the students.

Di Baycich

Snippet #3

The relationship between fluency and comprehension is complex. In order to comprehend a text, one has to read fluently to reduce the cognitive demand of reading. So for example, if you read very, very slowly, by the time you get to the end of the sentence, you will have forgotten what the first few words were, to help you make sense of the sentence, because you are so focused on figuring out each word, you cannot concentrate on meanings and putting the meanings together to make sense of the sentence.

One definition of fluency is speed, accuracy and prosody. To read with prosody, one has to be understanding the words as one is reading.

However, many ESL students who are good at decoding, can read very, very quickly and have no clue what they are reading!

So, it is very complicated!

Daphne Greenberg

Have you used Coh-Metrix to assess readability on the texts you are using with your students?  Click here to access the tool.

8.  ESL:  Adult Citizenship Education Discussion

Taken from LINCS Adult English Language Learners

Dear LINCS Community members,

We hope you will join us in two weeks, starting July 7, 2014, for a conversation on adult citizenship education with the Office of Citizenship within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. The agency’s Office of Citizenship is mandated by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to promote instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities, including the development of educational materials.

During this week-long event, the Office of Citizenship will share information and resources designed to help adult learners prepare for the naturalization interview and test. Promising practices from the field will also be highlighted.

This conversation will take place in the Adult English Language Learners group, but is open to members of all community groups.

The LINCS Community Team

9.  Health Literacy:  PIACC Health Data Webinar on July 16 from 12 to 1 (EST)

Taken from LINCS Health Literacy

As you may know, there were a series of health background questions in the PIAAC survey. The data from these may be able to give us some insight into health behaviors as they relate to adult competencies in literacy, numeracy or problem solving in technology-rich environments.

Click here for Exploring the importance of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in health-related issues

July 16th from 12:00-1:00 PM (EST)

10.  LINCS User Training:  July 10 at 5 p.m. EDT

Taken from LINCS Notice

Back by popular demand, the LINCS Community team and Diversity and Literacy group moderator, Ryan Hall, will co-present A Roadmap to LINCS: Plotting Your Route to Optimal Professional Development on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 5 p.m. EDT. After rave reviews of the April 3rd presentation we’re running this informative webinar again! The evening timing of this event is a direct result of the recent community poll we conducted to learn the times that work best for you, our members. We hope those of you who can’t attend daytime professional development webinars will take advantage of this evening PD opportunity!

You may have heard the LINCS Community has several new features, but did you know the Community was only one facet of all things LINCS? Join us to learn how you can plot your customized route to optimal professional development through all the various resources and opportunities LINCS has to offer. We take you through the new community features, and show you how you can elevate your professional development by aligning your participation in the Community with other aspects of LINCS including the Resource Collection, Learning Portal, LINCS social media, and trainings offered by the Regional Professional Development Centers.

The event will be streamed via live webcast; if you cannot attend we encourage you to view the archived video of the original webinar on the LINCS YouTube channel.

Make sure you register today!

Space is limited. RSVP is required.

11.  Math Resource

Taken from LINCS Math and Numeracy

I came across this article about a really cool way to engage learners in finding math around them.  It is called the #mathphotoaday challenge.  The instructor creates a calendar with different math prompts and learners photograph and share it.  I think this is a great idea!

Here is a link to the article and to the the twitter feed:

·        Article:

·        Twitter Feed:

Brooke Istas

12.  PIACC Resources

Taken from LINCS Evidence-based Professional Development

New Information about Filter 

** Announcing... the NEW PIAAC Results Portal

** The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently launched a new interactive online web portal ( that will make it easy for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to build customizable data tables using the PIAAC data. This new tool supplements the information available in NCES’s First Look report—Literacy, Numeracy, and Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments Among U.S. Adults: Results From the Program for the Assessment of Adult Competencies 2012 ( —and is designed to enable users to create their own data tables.

Like NCES’s First Look report, the PIAAC Results Portal reports average scores and proficiency levels in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. It can be used to compare U.S. performance to the international average and to the average in any or all participating countries.

You can also dig a little deeper by examining the data by a variety of characteristics. For example, if you are interested in how U.S. adults with different levels of educational attainment performed in literacy, you can create a table based on educational attainment variables. Likewise, if you are interested in what skills adults use at home and at work and how the use of these skills relates to performance in numeracy, you can look at that as well. There are many other variables to explore.

To make your searches easier, NCES has created profiles for key subgroups. For example, the characteristics included in the “unemployed” subgroup profile include age, gender, race/ethnicity, U.S. born, and educational attainment. In addition to these characteristics, the “employed” subgroup profile includes occupation, industry of employment, and level of gross pay.
After you have created your customized table, you have the option to export your data table to Excel.

Need a snapshot of PIACC?  AIR and the National Coalition for Literacy have published new resources on PIAAC.

·        PIAAC Overview Brochure

·        PIAAC: What the Data Say About the Skills of U.S. Adults

·        Adult Education Pays for Safer and Healthier Communities

·    Video     

Video Review:

PIACC Education GPS

Have you checked out the PIAAC Education GPS?  This tool can be found at:

Education GPS is the OECD source for internationally comparable data on education policies and practices, opportunities and outcomes. Accessible any time, in real time, the Education GPS provides you with the latest information on how countries are working to develop high-quality and equitable education systems.

You can draw from a wide variety of education indicators and data to construct your own, customized country reports, highlighting the facts, developments and outcomes of your choice.  You are also able to search for specific education indicators by country, theme or level of education and compare the results using interactive charts and tables.  With this site you are able to examine the OECD's extensive research and analysis of education policy around the world. Get a quick overview of key insights and policy options for a wide range of topics in education. Or delve deeper into the OECD knowledge base through quick and easy access to related websites and publications.  The OECD Education GPS is under constant development and the available information is continually growing.

Check out this site and let us know how you might use this in your work!

Gail Cope, SME, LINCS Program Management Group

13.  Reading Resource:  Teaching and Assessing Academic Vocabulary

Taken from LINCS Adult English Language Learner

I'm looking forward to teaching an advanced ESL class starting in mid-July. I will focus on academic language in general in this class, of which academic vocabulary is an essential component. Many of us now draw upon the Academic Word List (The AWL is available here when teaching academic vocabulary since this list includes the 570 most common academic words found across academic disciplines, e.g., analysis, significant, context, etc.

Since I also understand the value of teaching vocabulary in context, I work at identifying academic vocabulary from the reading we are doing in class. A resource that is helpful is Tom Cobb's Vocabulary Profiler This online tool immediately identifies all words found in the AWL from text that is copied and pasted into the site's text box.

When teaching vocabulary, I want students to make a personal connection to the words they are learning. We know from research that making a personal connection helps students to remember words better. For example, for the word analyze, I would first explain that to analyze is to think about or study something very carefully. I would then offer some examples: To analyze is not to look at something quickly; to analyze you must carefully study something over a period of time. For example, scientists carefully analyze the results of their research.

I then offer a structure for students to practice using the new word in a conversation with a partner in class. For example:

Q:  What is the first step you take when analyzing a math word problem?

A: The first step I take when ________________a math word problem is I ____________ (verb)

the problem.

Students fill the first blank with the appropriate form of the word analyze (i.e., analyzing) and in the second blank, they add another verb that makes sense in the context (i.e., read).

I also offer a structure so students can practice writing. For example:

A jury needs to _________________ all the _____________________ (noun) before deciding whether someone is guilty or innocent.

We know we need to encounter words multiple times to really learn them, so revisiting and recycling the words in a variety of ways in class is important too. The key to assessment is to pose questions that will make it clear that the student understands the new word and can use it appropriately. For instance, in the next classes, I use the following prompts to review how we use the word analyze. Students can practice asking and answering the questions being sure to use the new word in their conversations. I can also choose among these prompts for a written quiz in which students are required to use the new word in their response.

·        How much time would you need to analyze the results of a scientific experiment?

·        What information would you need to analyze to decide which of two teams is likely to win a soccer match?

·        Would looking at photos in a history book about the Iraq War, help you to analyze the causes of the war? Why or why not?

·        Why might it be helpful to have more than one analysis of a serious problem?

·        Could someone give an analysis of a news story after reading the headline? Why or why not?

I welcome your thoughts about and reactions to this approach to teaching and assessing academic vocabulary. Please share your ideas as well as your questions about teaching and assessing academic vocabulary.

Susan Finnmiller

 14.  Technology:  Future Trends for Adult Basic Education – Food for Thought by David Rosen

Taken from LINCS Technology and Learning

Click here to access information.

"What will adult basic education in the U.S. look like in the future?" is a great question for us to consider here. What are the trends that you are seeing that you think will continue, and perhaps transform adult basic education in the future?

Here's are a few of the trends I see that could, or already are beginning to, transform adult basic education (including ESOL/ESL):

1.     Blended Learning.

Within the next five years I think most adult basic education programs will have web-based instruction that supplements what students do in class. For one interesting example of this, read about what the San Mateo Adult School is doing, at  and look at their online video clips at These are videos of authentic classroom lessons made available to students online.  Blended learning will enable students who have access to the Internet to: put in more time on task, review a lesson that they found difficult to understand when it was presented the first time in class, and will enable students who have missed a class to make it up with online instruction. It may enable students to progress more quickly. It will also enable teachers who wish to, to provide a range of ways to teach the same topic, some of which will work better for some students. Online lessons will include video files, audio files, simulations/games that can be accessed from mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, texts, screen captured multimedia presentations and more.

2.     Flipped Learning.

A simple definition is that a teacher develops or finds suitable "homework," most often instructional videos, that students are assigned to watch before class. A class then is no longer a teacher presenting to a large group but a teacher, peer tutor, volunteer tutor or aide working with students who need one-on-one or small group help. In an ideal flipped classroom the teacher has a management information system and knows before the class who has watched the video, and if they are ready to be assigned more difficult videos, if they need more help, or need a lot more help. S/he then organizes the class to provide that help. It may be technology's best answer to the competency-based Mastery Learning model Benjamin Bloom proposed several decades ago, but until now that teachers have found difficult to achieve in their classrooms. The flipped learning concept, I believe, grew out of the use of Khan Academy videos in a middle school or junior high school classroom in California. Flipped Learning, of course, is one type of blended learning.

3.     Pure Distance Learning.

This is online learning with little or no face-to-face interaction. It has been around for many years in adult education, beginning before digital technology with well-designed correspondence courses that were successful for example in rural areas of new York State. With the help of Project Ideal, a national consortium of many of the states that have adult distance learning, and with leadership from states such as California, pure distance learning is already a reality in adult basic education. Will it continue, and grow? I think so.

4.     Mobile Learning.

Adult basic education teachers who regularly survey their students to learn if they have access to the Internet through computer, and/or smart phone, and/or electronic tablet, are finding that smart phone access is a fast-growing phenomenon, especially among immigrant learners, but also among other adult learners, including a big growth trend among African American students. Smart phones are not always used for learning, but savvy teachers have designed BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) learning models, and are finding useful language learning and other adult basic education apps. This will continue to grow, but a major impediment is the lack, in many adult basic education programs and adult schools, of resources to purchase broadband wireless that can be accessed in all the classrooms.

5.     Online Curricula Aligned with CCR Standards.

A major change in U.S. adult basic education is that all states for the first time are using -- to one degree or another -- a set of common curriculum standards. The College and Career Readiness Standards, an adult education version of the Common Core State Standards, is now in place, and in many states programs are now expected to create curricula aligned to these standards. One logical outcome could be the development of (voluntary) state and national adult education curricula that would be widely used because they are thoughtfully developed and perhaps because they can be shown to produce good learning outcomes. We'll see.

6.     Computer-based Assessment.

The GED(r) 2014 exam is already offered primarily on computers, and all the high school equivalency tests are moving in this direction. I expect that we will also see more formative assessments being made available online

David Rosen

15.  WIOA:  Unpacking WIOA

Taken from LINCS Program Management

The recording and PowerPoint for the Unpacking WIOA webinar are now available via the following links:

To learn more, click here to view the PowerPoint presentation and click here to check out NSC's analysis of WIOA.

Unpacking WIOA

On this webinar, national experts from four leading organizations recently came together to unpack the recently introduced Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and what it means for the nation. Panelists included:

·        Rachel Gragg, Federal Policy Director, National Skills Coalition 

·        Neil Ridley, Senior Policy Analyst and Interim Workforce Development Co-Director, Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

·        James Huettig, Policy Analyst, National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC)

·        Jennifer Wang, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Young Invincibles 

·        Rachel Zinn, Director, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Gail Cope, SME, LINCS Program Management Group

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