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Montana Information

1.   HiSET Blast


HiSET® Program eUpdate | December 2014

IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION ABOUT HiSET 2015:  Practice Tests Differences and 2015 Test at a Glance

The 2014 HiSET practice materials were developed and released prior to HiSET becoming an operational assessment.  The practice materials were released in 2013 so the adult education field could prepare their students for HiSET testing prior to the January 2014 launch. The materials were closely aligned with the 2002 series and the 2014 HiSET operational forms.  They were developed to prepare students for success in passing the 2014 HiSET exam and prepared prior to the release of the OCTAE College and Career Readiness Standards. The newly released HiSET Official Practice Test, and the upcoming 2015 ETS HiSET practice tests were developed based on information collected throughout the HiSET 2014 operational testing year. They are designed to prepare our students for the 2015 HiSET exam and aim to move students towards college and career readiness levels. 

In addition, the Are You Ready to Take the HiSET Exam document is being updated to reflect the 2015 operational test for all available practice materials. Once the new document is released, please discontinue the use of any previous scales you have used. 

Attached (Click here) you will find the 2015 Test at a Glance (TAAG) document. The 2014 version is and will remain on the HiSET Informational Website in the download library for reference and the 2015 Test at a Glance will be added to the reference library this week. The TAAG is the blueprint to the operational tests and provide educators and students with the information they will be measured on when taking the HiSET exam.

We appreciate the opportunity to continue working with you to prepare our out of school youth and adults without a high school diploma for HiSET success, college readiness, and careers. 

Social Studies and Writing Webinars

ETS HiSET Social Studies-20141212 1906-1


ETS HiSET Writing-20141215 1436-1

Please note:  Passing score for HiSET essay continues to be 2 for 2015.


Writing Samples

Click here to peruse scored sample essays.

Portal Enhancements

HiSET Host wants to share this WebEx recording with you.

Message from host: Please share this webinar with your test centers. The webinar includes information on portal enhancements taking effect on December 29th, 2014, all of which was shared at the conference.

ETS HiSET Portal Enhancements 2014-20141215 1612-1
Monday, December 15, 2014
11:28 am | Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)


The HiSET® program would like to extend warm holiday wishes to everyone during this special time of year. This has been our first full year of testing and we are excited about all we were able to accomplish — in providing a more affordable and accessible option to states. We owe our success to all of the states, territories and tribal nations that have chosen to adopt the HiSET exam. We definitely couldn't have done it without your feedback and support. We are eager to build upon the success of 2014, as we move into 2015. We look forward to working with our existing clients and with new states seeking alternatives to high school equivalency. Happy holidays and a prosperous new year!

Test Center Reminders

Holiday Hours:

It's the holiday season and many of us are taking vacations after a busy year! If you are unable to reach your normal Test Administrative Services representative, please remember to email so that another representative can assist you. ETS has coverage in place for anyone out on vacation and we will be able to serve you quickly in the event your representative is taking some time off for the holidays. You can also call Test Administrative Services (TAS) at 1-800-257-5123 and you will be directed to an available representative. ETS will be closed on December 24–26, 2014, for the holidays, as well as January 1–2, 2015, for the New Year's holiday.

System Maintenance:

ETS will be undergoing system maintenance on Sunday, January 4, 2015. Registration, scheduling and testing will be unavailable on this day. Centers will receive a separate communication regarding opening up on Monday, January 5, 2015, as some action will be required when you reboot your machines.

For PBT Centers:

If you have any questions about your 2015 materials orders, please feel free to reach out to TAS at 1-800-257-5123. If you find that you have received more materials than you expected, please return those materials using the 2014 materials return instructions. A quick reminder — any used and unused materials from 2014 should be returned at the end of your testing year.

HiSET® Practice Test Options:

There are three HiSET Practice Test options available for order and download. The 2014 Paid Practice Tests (PPT) and the 2014 Free Online Practice Tests (FPT) can still be used for preparation throughout 2015. We have added the Official Practice Test for state directors, educators and administrators to use as pretests.

Answer sheets for the PPTs and FPTs are available on the HiSET Download Library. They can be photocopied and reused as many times as necessary. By March 2015, we will add more practice tests that are comprised of released operational items.

The 2015 Official Practice Tests (OPTs) are:

  • New for 2015
  • Paper books
  • $10 each, plus a $5.50 flat shipping fee
  • Contain an answer sheet, answer key and score ranges
  • Order form is ORANGE
  • Restricted to state directors and HiSET test administrators ONLY
  • Can be purchased with purchase orders
  • Available in English and Spanish

* Note: Orders for OPTs will be delayed. The scoring scales are currently being reviewed to align with the HiSET exam.

The 2014 PPTs are:

  • PDFs
  • $7.50
  • Can be photocopied and reused
  • Contain answer key and score ranges
  • Available for public use
  • Order Form is YELLOW
  • Spanish forms are available on separate order form

The 2014 FPTs are:

  • Available for download directly from the website
  • PDFs
  • Spanish Practice Tests are located in the Spanish version of the website

For more information about the HiSET program, contact us.

Phone toll-free:



Montana HSE Information:  January

HiSET Age Waivers:  New Protocol 1/22/15 

ETS has implemented a block to underage (16-18) clients when they try to schedule.  The state didn’t have input to the system, but retained the right to override the block. State policy is that ONLY the state can override the underage block. If an underage tester comes into your center already scheduled to test, contact us immediately.


The procedure below is based on our current system and some input from other states.

·        The process puts 17-18 year old approval in the hands of the local facility and that remains the case with one extra step. You will need to contact OPI for a systems override. The state is only going to permit testing at your request. Please remember to include the test taker’s ETS ID in your email or phone message.

·        The process for 16 year-old test takers is basically the same, except after the OPI approves the waiver, we will need to override in the system. Please remember to include the test takers ETS ID on the form. A new form will be created, but in the meantime, just write the ETS ID on the top of the waiver.

Margaret Bowles, Adult Literacy and Basic Education Director

Montana HiSET PSA Template 1/14/15: 

The PSA templates that were requested of HiSET have arrived.

Click here for HiSET PSA template.  This is offered as examples that can  be rewritten, or edited, at your discretion. 


Montana HiSET Resources

Check out the shared resources on the HiSET Resource page at

HiSET Success:  Montana

Do you have a HiSET success story you want to share with us and others? If so, we want to hear it. Email Margaret Bowles with details. Include "HiSET Success Story" in your subject line.

2.    Montana ABLE Shoptalk

Click here to access ShopTalk Summary and topics. 

·       WIOA Update

·       Moving Pathways Forward

·       MABLE Report and Post Testing Webinar

·       Standards Alignment and CCR Professional Development

·       Professional Development

·       ESOL Update

·       NRS Federal Notice

OCTAE Post testing Webinar PowerPoint

Federal Register:  New EFL Descriptors

3.   Montana Instruction Ideas

Check out Posting #15 about a free online class on Reading for Understanding.

4.   Montana Math Webinar

Welcome to the Montana Math Webinars!

Click here for more information and resources. 

5.   Montana Moving Pathways Forward Resources

Click here for MT_ABE_Regional_Mtgs_ Labor_Market_Information_Nov_2014.

Click here for Montana Job Projections 2012-2022.

Click here for Montana Job Projections Spreadsheet.

Click here to access all MPF Resources.

6.   WIOA Update:  WIOA Timeline

WIOA Montana Updates:

1/9/15:  WIOA Regulations

The document below announces the regulations for WIOA will not be released in January. A spring release is now the target date. OCTAE has not released any statements on the impact on our required due dates. The Montana state WIOA partners have agreed to start meeting in early February to begin our Unified Plan regardless of the lack of regulation release. The common belief is that we need to get started.

I will keep you posted as I receive information.

Margaret Bowles,
Adult Literacy and Basic Education Director

Click here  to access Montana WIOA:  Chunking Pertinent Information for Montana.

National Information

7. Career Pathways:  Video Resources

Taken from LINCS Career Pathways

… Career One Stop videos.  These are organized by the 16 career clusters set out by the U.S. Department of Education.  I really like these because the videos are also available in Spanish.  They're also linked to regional and national salaries, education requirements and the Holland Career Clusters, which can be used to support additional career exploration.

8. Corrections:  Integrating Technology

Taken from LINCS Technology and Learning

Teaching in the internet dead zone that is a correctional facility is certainly challenging.  Fortunately, there are a lot of new resources becoming available, and foundations, agencies and other grant making entities are recognizing that digital literacy skills are a Human Right. The people you are teaching will have a much harder time succeeding when they get back to their communities without at least basic knowledge of mobile tech devices and a cursory understanding of digital literacy skills.  

Khan Academy puts all of their videos (mostly math and science) on YouTube and you can copy and cache them using a fairly basic, downloadable program like keepvid or another such program.  You can also ask your administrators to explore acquiring a collection like RACHEL, or KA Lite, or the WiderNet Project's eGranary.  These are not all free, but the organizations that produce these off-line collections are aware of the budgetary constraints facilities and educators face and so try to make things affordable.  There are also some really cool mobile device projects in the works.  Check out for an example of an ed-tech company focused on bringing an "internet-like" experience into corrections classrooms.

We've had a number of pretty good discussions on the Correctional Education Group around access to technology etc.  It might be worth a look back over some of those to get an idea of what other educators working in secure classrooms are doing to bring some tech skills to their students. Here's one example.  

-- Heather Erwin, SME -- Correctional Education Group

9. Employability:  Upskilling America’s Workers

Taken from OCTAE Connection

Upskilling America’s Workers

In his State of the Union address yesterday and again at Boise State University today, the President called on more employers to adopt or expand measures to help workers gain the skills and credentials needed to advance into better paying jobs. Such measures include expanding registered apprenticeships, increasing the use of tuition benefit programs that pay for a worker to complete his or her college education, offering on-the-job training for career progression, and increasing access to technology-enabled learning tools. Spreading best practices like these can ensure both that employers get the skilled workforce they need and workers get an opportunity to realize their full potential and earn more. At the same time – while proposing new measures in his budget – the President is taking his own actions to expand access to apprenticeships and training.

See more about what the Administration is doing to partner with employers to upskill their workers in this White House fact sheet.

10. ESOL:  BEST+ Update

Taken from CAL

With the end of 2014 approaching, all of us at the Center for Applied Linguistics would like to thank you for your continued support of BEST Plus and BEST Literacy. We value our ongoing collaboration and joint commitment to supporting adult English learners across the country.

We also thought this would be a good time to provide a quick recap on BEST Plus and, as always, we invite you contact us if you have any questions.

BEST Plus Update
As outlined in our previous emails, CAL is pleased to be working closely with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) to create BEST Plus Version 2.0, our first enhanced version of this operational testing program. As part of this plan, we will be providing additional information about BEST Plus 2.0 to OCTAE in January 2015.

Our work on BEST Plus 2.0, which will be available in the program year beginning July 2015, is right on schedule. As a reminder, with BEST Plus 2.0, the basic configuration of the assessment will not change. In this new version, approximately 40% of the test items will be replaced. Computer-adaptive and print-based versions of the test will continue to be available, and the score management software will continue to provide informative score reports for program use. CAL will work closely with all BEST Plus users to help make the transition to BEST Plus 2.0 as easy as possible. We have developed a web page where updates and information will be posted – visit to learn more.

Programs can continue to use the BEST Plus print-based tests they have on hand during the transition. Your computer-based test administrations will continue to be available for your use. As BEST Plus 2.0 is launched, CAL will work with states and programs to provide the computer-adaptive version of BEST Plus 2.0 and revised test administrator guide at no charge. More information will be available early in 2015.

About BEST Literacy
As a reminder, BEST Literacy, CAL’s assessment for measuring reading and writing proficiency in English, was approved in 2010 by OCTAE for use in the NRS system through 2017. CAL will also work closely with OCTAE on possible future enhancements to this assessment that would be submitted in October 2016.

Thank you for your support
We realize that each state and program must carefully evaluate its assessment options, and we appreciate your support of CAL. We are committed to serving your assessment needs, now and in the future.

Contact CAL
If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to contact us by telephone at our toll-free number 1-866-845-BEST (2378), Monday to Friday, 10 am – 6 pm Eastern Time or via email at  

11. ESOL:  EL Civics

Taken from CAL

… In the coming year, we will be providing updates on our work and information about new resources and professional development opportunities that will be available from CAL. In the meantime, we wanted to share a quick reminder about resources on one of our most widely requested topics – EL Civics.

Professional Development Workshop

English for Civic Life: Designing and Delivering Effective EL/Civics Instruction

This workshop offers evidence-based strategies for incorporating civics content in English language instruction for adults, focusing on instructional methods, expected outcomes, and the content that EL/Civics instruction should include. Participants explore online and print-based sources of information on U.S. history and government, civic participation and responsibility, and obtaining citizenship. They develop strategies for using these with their learners in classroom activities based on authentic situations, so that learners develop the skills they need to become engaged, empowered members of U.S. society. CAL provides this workshop by arrangement with local and state adult education providers. Contact us to learn how it can be customized to meet your needs and budget.

Learn more about the workshop.

EL/Civics on the LINCS Adult ELL Community of Practice

EL/Civics continues to be a key topic for adult educators across the country. You may have seen the discussion on Adult Citizenship Education that took place this summer on the LINCS Adult English Language Learner (ELL) Community of Practice. The discussion was moderated by Miriam Burt and led by Paul Kim of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Topics included the content of the citizenship exam and the resources and training that are available to help instructors prepare applicants to pass it. The discussion drew a record number of participants; you can read it at

Download EL/Civics Resources from CAL’s Free Online Collection

English Literacy and Civics Education

Civics Education for Adult English Language Learners

Visit our website to browse our complete collection of resources.

Miriam Burt

CAL Solutions Adult ESL Education Team

12. ESOL:  Webinar – Program Models and Resources for Serving English Language Learners

Taken from LINCS Notice

Friday, January 30th, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EST

This webinar will explore major shifts for the field of ESOL and adult education named in the WIOA legislation: 1) the need to prepare English Language Learners for unsubsidized employment in in-demand industries and occupations that lead to economic self-sufficiency; 2) focus on integrating instruction and other services with the local workforce development system. This webinar will be a practitioner-led dialogue designed for you to consider what these shifts mean for program design and classroom practice. Learn about successful program models and practices for working with high beginning to advanced level English Language Learners.

The WIOA: What Now? Practice and Policy Webinar Series is co-sponsored by the National College Transition Network/World Education and LaGuardia Community College/CUNY.

John Hunt is the Acting Executive Director for Adult Community Learning in the Division of Adult and Continuing Education at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) in Queens, New York, the most diverse county in the US, where he oversees a variety of adult education programs in ESOL, high school equivalency, integrated workforce development, remedial education, and skilled immigrant career pathways, including the NYC Welcome Back Center for immigrant healthcare professionals. Through LaGuardia's Center for Immigrant Education and Training (CIET), he has developed courses contextualized around civic and parent engagement, immigrant family literacy, DACA immigrant youth, and workforce development. He previously taught in Japan, Spain (International House) and New York and holds the Cambridge DELTA teaching diploma, along with degrees from Vassar College, NYU, and Baruch's School of Public Affairs. He has presented on such topics as integrated ESOL and career pathways models ("NY-BEST"), immigrant parent engagement and college awareness, and skilled immigrant career advisement via the Welcome Back Initiative model. He is a Blue Ribbon Panel member of the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE) and a Steering Committee member of the NYC Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL).

With more than 30 years of experience in adult education, Silja Kallenbach has worked as an administrator, professional development provider, and program developer, researcher, and teacher. Silja has worked for World Education since 1994 and currently oversees World Education's portfolio of work and leads program development in the U.S as the Vice President of the U.S. Division. Some of the projects that Silja has helped to design, secured funding for, and worked on include: Networks for Integrating New Americans, the National College Transition Network, the New England Learner Persistence Project, and the Adult Multiple Intelligences Study. From 1994 to 2011, Silja served as the director of the New England Literacy Resource Center at World Education. 


13. GED® Completion Rates Discussion Continues:  Snippet Regarding New York TASC

Taken from LINCS Career Pathways

Snippet #1

TASC in New York

I found this stream interesting- we are all dealing with a new test, GED or TASC and seeing varying results. Here in NY, the test is aligned with Common Core, and yet, High School is not- (working toward it, but not rolled up yet). So people who drop out today, take the test, are testing at a higher rate, level, than they would be if they had just staying in High School. Right now, the test is harder than high school. I try to tell them that, but they don't believe me.

I don't know the real numbers on pass/fail rates, but my students are passing, many of whom never passed before.

I believe, because they haven't had that many people take the test, the curve is big, and you need to get very few right in order to pass.

While I don't find this right- I know that sooner or later, the curve will work itself out.

I think the new test is good- we need a harder test, High School is harder, and it should not be easier to drop out and take the test- or more will do it. If it is discouraging, it was made to be that way so that people (kids) do not choose this route.

14. OER Webinar:  Free on 1/28

Taken from LINCS Science

EdWeb is offering a free webinar Jan. 28th at 5:00 PM Eastern Time titled "Creating Open Educational Resources for your K-12 Classroom" presented by Julie Willcott, Science Teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator. It sounds like a great way to get started with creating your own materials

15. Professional Development Discussion:  What’s Happening in State Professional Development

Taken from LINCS Notice

Click here  to read snippets from the follow-up professional development discussion.

16. Reading for Understanding:  Free Course MOOC Course Begins 1/26

Taken from LINCS Reading Apprenticeship Book Study

In this course, we will actively explore a powerful framework, Reading Apprenticeship©—described in the book, Reading for Understanding. Through video clips, readings and practice, this course provides snapshots of a proven approach to helping readers use and master a set of powerful literacy tools that will help them enjoy and understand high-quality, complex texts in and beyond school.

The MOOC course (4 weeks with videos and interactive activities, discussions, etc.) starts Jan. 26th. Grab a partner and enroll!  The URL for info is below.

17. Reading:  Snippets Continue from Book Study on Reading for Understanding - How Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms

Taken from LINCS Assessment

More and More Snippets:  Have you had a chance to follow the discussion about Reading Apprenticeship?  If not, click here to join the Reading Apprenticeship micro group.  See snippets below of the conversations that are occurring. Check out MTLINCS for other snippets: and

Snippet #1

The Cognitive Dimension

I ask to students to write a summary of the text on paper. I use this to assess them. For students, this provides practice on their writing skills as well as sharpen their thinking skills. It allows them to sit back and think on their terms then put it all on paper as they understood and synthesized all of the information. I go around the room and ask students to share what they

 Snippet #2


Yesterday, I had my students summarize a 5-paragraph article that they had been working on for a couple of classes. I told them to try to do it in 4-5 sentences, which was tricky for them. (I wonder if learning to prioritize when summarizing could carry over into prioritizing in other parts of life?) The best unforeseen effect of this was that the students started to try to cram more and more information into each of their sentences, making them refine their ideas and write more complex sentences in the process. Suddenly those transition and relationship words become really useful!

Snippet #3

Metacognitive Conversation

I think an important quote is on p. 127 "While metacognitive conversation is about making thinking visible, its ultimate goal is not simply to make students aware of their thinking, but to foster their ability to use insights about reading processes, strategies, and motivations to interact with, comprehend, and make use of a variety of academic texts."    It's important to give our students the skills and strategies that they need to be successful when they are in an academic classroom which may not necessarily be a reading apprenticeship classroom.

Snippet #4


Chunking makes sense.  Stories, chapters, news articles, and even short excerpts can be overwhelming for people who don't consider themselves to be "readers."  I see this strategy as being useful when students read poems ("The Raven" comes to mind.).  If they chunk their reading by stanza, they will be able to grasp the surface meaning and then dig deeper with each stanza.  Also, I see this strategy being extremely useful when learners read historical speeches that contain unfamiliar vocabulary, historical references, and archaic sentence patterns. Taking time to read and understand one phrase or sentence at a time would be beneficial in understanding the whole text, as opposed to the teacher just explaining what the whole speech is about.  (Consider numbering paragraphs.  If students can not write on text, use post-it notes.)

Snippet #5

Student-generated Questions

As I posted previously, I think having students generate their own questions is a powerful strategy. I have been following the work of Jeff Zwiers, from Stanford University, for years. Zwiers has gotten me to think hard about the way I use questions in my teaching. In one of his most recent books, he stated, “The real world does not have so many questions as in school… People are asked to produce or perform, asking their own questions along the way… Questions should be a means to learning, not the end” (Zwiers, 2014, p. 123). Zwiers suggested these ideas about teacher questioning to guide our practice:

•Ask fewer questions and give more time for thoughtful answers

•Make the questions … relevant to the real world

•Ask questions you would ask of yourself

•Train students to ask their own questions

•Create learning tasks that are not so dependent on questions

For those who are interested, you can check out some of Jeff Zwiers' additional ideas at the Academic Language Development Network.

Snippet #6


On pages 192-93, the authors suggest that building on learners’ abilities to solve problems can be a good starting place for tapping into the Cognitive Dimension. Since adults have had many opportunities in their lives to successfully solve problems, how might teachers draw upon this relevant experience to make connections with solving problems in reading?

… This also takes me to this quote:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ” -Alvin Toffler

Problem-solving is essential to the learning process.  Emphasizing that reading is an exercise in problem solving and basing it off of students' personal experiences, will not only benefit them in reading but in other classes, work, and life.  We can no longer just "give" students information and equate that to learning; they need their own learning toolbox to achieve understanding of the information for themselves. 

18. Science:  Videos

Taken from LINCS Science

A resource that I found helpful on the list of video collections  for the LINCS Science Community of Practice was  I gave my GED students the link to study the Scientific Method in the earth science section.  The students listened to the videos, practiced vocabulary words related to it, and then took quizzes. The students expressed that they found this site helpful.  The site was interactive and visual and kept their interest.

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