Greetings from Montana LINCS

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Montana Information

1.   HiSET Blast

New Information from HiSET Regarding Practice Tests:  2/16/15


Over the past several weeks ETS has received numerous requests for clarification surrounding the ETS HiSET practice tests.  The practice test currently on the market for 2015 preparation of students are:

·         2014 Free Practice Test (5 subtests)

·         2014 For Purchase Practice Test (5 subtests)

·         2014 Official Practice Test (OPT) (5 subtests)-not available for student purchase

Tim Davey, our Senior Research Director has approved the statement below for use in the field:

The 2014 practice tests should continue to be used to prepare students for 2015 operational testing.  In addition, ETS is releasing additional practice tests in March.  The new practice tests are being created using the 2014 operational items.  Scores on both the 2014 and the new practice tests are linked to the HiSET scale in a way that accounts for any differences in item difficulty that exists across test forms.  As such, they are as predictive of performance on the new, 2015 operational test forms as they were predictive of performance in 2014.  The same sort of linkage ensures that 2015 operational scores are on the same scale as 2014 scores produced after the new passing standards were implemented.   

Please emphasize with your programs to use the current Are You Ready to Take the HiSET® Exam?, located on the HiSET Informational Website at:

Moving forward, all newly purchased HiSET practice materials from ETS will not include a preparation table; all programs should only use the table on the website.  This change will help avoid the problem we have been experiencing with individuals using an outdated table to prepare their students.  ETS will continue sharing messaging with the field about the Are You Ready to Take the HiSET® Exam? documentation and will update the table again prior to additional practice tests being available for purchase March 2015. 

The 2014 OPT preparation scale is not available on the Are You Ready to Take the HiSET® Exam? because we are finishing an operational trial to collect data from students taking the 2014 OPT and the 2015 operational test.  The scale for the OPT is expected to be released in March. The study was conducted as a result of feedback from your programs concerned with the difficulty their students were having on the OPT. 

Thank you!


Amy Riker
National Executive Director, ETS High School Equivalency Test (HiSET®)

Educational Testing Service


HiSET® Program eUpdate | January 2015

Happy New Year to the entire HiSET® family. We are excited to begin our second year with a strong start and are eager to continue

our work to offer the most accessible and affordable option in high school equivalency testing.

Practice Test Clarification

The 2014 HiSET practice materials were developed and released prior to HiSET becoming an operational assessment. The release

of the materials was closely aligned with the 2002 series and the 2014 HiSET operational forms. The materials were released in 2013

so the adult education field could prepare their students for HiSET testing prior to the January 2014 launch of the operational test.

 Developed to prepare students for success in passing the 2014 HiSET exam, the materials were prepared prior to the release of the

OCTE College and Career Readiness Standards.

The newly released HiSET Official Practice Test and the upcoming 2015 HiSET practice tests were developed based on information

collected throughout the HiSET 2014 operational testing year. They are designed to prepare our students for HiSET 2015 operational

testing and 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.

NEW — 2015 HiSET Test at a Glance

You can now view the new TAAG information for 2015 in the HiSET download library. As you'll see, there are changes to the exam in

terms of content area percentages. We realize that you may have questions, and we will work with all stakeholders to answer them

fully. We currently are collaborating with the HiSET state administrators to develop information-sharing and Q&A sessions across the

nation. In the upcoming month, we will communicate how the information is shared with each stakeholder group as we work with the

states. We assure you that any concerns or questions you have will be addressed fully as we continue to move forward. We look

forward to speaking with everyone.

Test Center Reminders

Formula sheets for the 2015 HiSET paper-based math tests were sent to each center earlier this month. This reusable sheet must be

provided to each candidate taking a HiSET math exam in 2015. The information on the formula sheet is available to computer-based

math test candidates on the computer, similar to the calculator tool. The sheet is also available in the HiSET download library.

HiSET Official Practice Test

The 2015 HiSET Official Practice Tests are now available for ordering, and those that have already been ordered will begin shipping

this week. These tests are available only to educators, state directors, departments of corrections and test center administrators. They

are to be used only as prep materials and not in place of a HiSET subtest. The practice subtests are half the length of a full subtest.

Each subtest contains a half-length version of the full test, a score conversion table and a blank answer sheet. The order form is

posted on our resource library. The cost is $10 per subtest or $50 for the complete battery.

Writing test: The break between Section 1 and Section 2 has been removed from computer-based and paper-based testing beginning

in 2015. Irregularity reports no longer need to be completed if a candidate does not take the break.

PBT Centers

Answer sheets: The 2014 answer sheets cannot be used for 2015 tests. Answer sheets for 2015 forms can be ordered through your

TCA portal.

HiSET Success

Does your state or jurisdiction have a HiSET success story you want to share with us and others? If so, we want to hear it. Email

Sheri Mayo with details. Include "HiSET Success Story" in your subject line.

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

Note:  HiSET Webinars

Webinars on content tests are not active.  ETS is updating the webinars. 

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 Instruction Ideas

Check out Posting #3 AND #4 about math standards and webinars.

3.   Montana Math Standards Updated

Click here to access updated Math Standards.

4.   Montana Math Webinar

Welcome to the Montana Math Webinars!

Webinar #1:  February 18 and/or February 19

Click here for more information and resources.

5.   Montana Moving Pathways Forward Resources

Click here to access all MPF Resources: 

·       Coaches’ Resources

·       Regional Homework

·       National Resources

6.   WIOA Update:  WIOA Timeline

WIOA Montana Updates:

1/26/15:  Federal Register:  New EFL Descriptors

Click here to preview recommendations for new EFL descriptors.

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:  New ED Website Provides Partnership Building Tools for Employers and Educators


Last year brought unparalleled advances in workforce education and training. In July 2014, President Obama signed the overwhelmingly bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—the most significant reform of job training programs in more than a decade. The new law offers an unprecedented opportunity for the business community to partner with adult education and workforce providers. This will allow employers to customize training and upskill their frontline workforces, expanding job access and opportunity for all Americans. See a U.S. Department of Education blog post, coauthored by Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, detailing these opportunities.

Concurrent with the signing of the WIOA, Vice President Biden released his landmark report, Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity, a review of the nation’s training programs. The goal of the report is to ensure that workers attain the education and skills they need to progress along their chosen career pathways, and that employers find skilled workers to support the economy.  

The WIOA and other new reform efforts opened the door for workforce education and training grant programs. As a result, the Department of Education was tasked by the vice president’s Ready to Work Initiative to develop a new employment and training website. This website—Tools for Building Employer-Educator Partnerships—is designed to introduce both employers and educators to the value of partnering together; describe best practices and success stories; and, disseminate evidence-based tools that contain academic and practical solutions for building partnerships, sustaining collaborations, and creating career pathways. 

Employer-educator partnerships hold the potential to

·        increase foundation skills development within the workplace; 

·        foster new skills development and internal job promotion; 

·        provide stepping stones for low-wage, entry-level workers to more viable employment; and, 

·        link education/training and workforce development to labor market trends and needs.

All interested parties, particularly those providing services to adult learners, are encouraged to visit the website to help facilitate the adaption of new resources, initiate new partnerships, and strengthen existing partnerships. 

Any questions about the website and its content are welcome by emailing

8. Career Pathways:  Student Financial Aid for Apprentices

  Taken from LINCS Financial Literacy

Register here:

The Department of Education has issued new guidance on federal student aid to support Registered Apprentices. This webinar will discuss how Pell Grants, Work Study, and the Job Location and Development Program can be used to support apprentices.

·        Pell Grants: Apprentices who qualify for Federal Pell Grants can receive funding to cover all or most of the cost of tuition and fees, books and supplies for the students’ enrollment in the technical instruction portion of an apprenticeship if it is part of an eligible academic program.

·        Work Study: Institutions can use Federal Work Study (FWS) funds to pay a portion of the training wages for eligible students who are apprentices while they are enrolled in eligible certificate or degree programs.

·        Job Location and Development Program: Institutions can leverage their FWS funds, individually or as part of a group of institutions, to create a Job Location and Development (JLD) program to help identify and support employers in creating apprenticeships for enrolled students.

Speakers will provide an overview of the Department of Education guidance and will also describe how the South Carolina Community and Technical College system has been using Pell Grants for apprentices for several years.

Presenters include: 

Mark Mitsui, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education

David Muster, Program Specialist, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education

Mitchell Harp, Director of Apprenticeships, Trident Technical College, Charleston, SC

Moderator - John Ladd, Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor

9. CCR Resources and Professional Development Materials

Taken from LINCS Assessment

Just a reminder …

I want to share a new resource that is now available on LINCS.  It is the CCR Standards Project professional development materials that were used in the College and Career Readiness Implementation Institutes held in the spring of 2014.  Posted for your use are eight units of materials with four in English language arts and four in math.  Each of the units contains a Facilitator Guide, PowerPoint and Resources. These materials are so important for adult educators because they include the instructional advances that are the focus for the College and Career Readiness Standards.

You can find it at

Meryl Becker-Prezocki, SME

10. Corrections:  NORSC Webinar February 19

Taken from LINCS Correctional Education

Consider this an invitation to empower incarcerated students with the latest tools and technology to help make them successful after release.

These challenges are being addressed head-on by the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA), the state’s juvenile justice agency. With knowledge of security, policy changes, content and delivery methods, OYA staff will share with you how they are normalizing education content for youth via secure and affordable digital access.

Imagine digital content delivered to incarcerated students through a completely offline wireless network. A small computer not much larger than a box of breath mints can provide this content for one or several computers on a youth correctional facility living unit. 

And best of all, there is no reason the tools OYA is using could not be adapted for adult prisons.  It’s offline, secure, and easily tracked.

Known as the RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education) Server, this unique computer is based on the inexpensive Raspberry Pi with a 64GB memory card, integrated wireless router and power cord. Loaded on the memory card are Web pages from Wikipedia, Khan Academy, medical encyclopedia, K-12 textbooks, great books, music theory and typing lessons, to name just a few. There’s even room to customize content for your jurisdiction.

NORSC will host a webinar February 19 beginning at 11:00 a.m. PST to address the benefits of this new technology, including security, portability and affordability. OYA presenters Frank Martin, Tracie Hightower and Gary Westoby will illuminate new horizons on the technology front and discuss some of the challenges along the way. Jeremy Schwartz of, which developed RACHEL, will also participate.

If you are interested in learning about this innovative addition to your education toolbox, please register using the link below. Space is limited so reserve today!

Heather Irwin

11. Corrections:  Reducing Recidivism

Taken from LINCS Correctional Education

The Vera Institute released an important report this past Wednesday highlighting a number of innovative state and county programs that are succeeding in creatively empowering incarcerated learners, and eventually these programs should prove to reduce recidivism, thus reducing costs and increasing public safety.

Media coverage of the report can be found at:

Vera's website defines the report itself, titled Incarceration's Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America in this way:

"Local jails, which exist in nearly every town and city in America, are built to hold people deemed too dangerous to release pending trial or at high risk of flight. This, however, is no longer primarily what jails do or whom they hold, as people too poor to post bail languish there and racial disparities disproportionately impact communities of color. This report reviews existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point. It also highlights jurisdictions that have taken steps to mitigate negative consequences, all with the aim of informing local policymakers and their constituents who are interested in in reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and promoting stronger, healthier communities."

It's a bit of a long ready, but very much worth the time. It would also be wonderful to hear your thoughts on whether you're aware of, or possibly involved in, any of the programs mentioned in the report and highlighted in the Huffington Post article.

 12. ESL:  Citizenship Education Discussion

Taken from LINCS Notice

Join us from February 23-25, 2015 for a special conversation on adult citizenship education with the Office of Citizenship within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

With the goal of helping participants prepare students for naturalization interviews and tests, this event will be of particular interest to teachers of citizenship and civics to adult English language learners, those helping eligible Lawful Permanent Residents prepare for the naturalization interview and test, adult ESL teachers, and program administrators. The discussion will highlight the linking of content standards and foundation skills to citizenship education to develop thematic lessons, as well as other USCIS resources.

Additionally, some of the subtopics to be highlighted include:

·   Building an effective citizenship curricula, syllabi, lesson plans, and classroom activities;

·    Helping students improve English skills in preparation for the naturalization test; and

·    Current naturalization test preparation resources.

This conversation will take place in the Adult English Language Learners and Program Management group. If you are not already a member of one of these groups, please join in order to participate in the discussion.

Mark your calendars now and connect with us on Twitter (@LINCS_ED and @USCIS). This is sure to be an event you will not want to miss!

13. Health Literacy:  “Staying Healthy for Beginners” Special Discussion

Taken from LINCS Notice

Please join us for a discussion in the Health Literacy group on the ESOL health literacy curriculum: Staying Healthy for Beginners: An English Learner’s Guide to Health Care and Healthy Living.

The curriculum includes a colorful, picture-filled student guide written for a high beginning ESL level, and an accompanying teacher’s guide. Together they allow you to teach literacy and language acquisition skills in the context of health topics like talking with doctors, taking medicine and eating healthy food.

From February 16-20, 2015, we will talk with Greg Smith and Jennifer Young, from the Florida Literacy Coalition, who created the student and teacher’s guides. They will discuss how the guides were developed, how they work, and how they can be used in ESOL programs.

We hope to have a chance to hear more from teachers who have used this curriculum, and to talk with teachers who may want to use it in the future.

The LINCS Community Team

And …

A new addition to the LINCS Resource Collection (and feature in next week’s special discussion) is the Staying Healthy for Beginners: An English Learner’s Guide to Health Care and Healthy Living.

Covered in the curriculum, through engaging pictures and stories, are a variety of healthcare topics: the health care system, working with doctors and other health care providers, medicines, healthy foods, and tips for staying healthy.

While anyone can join this discussion, it also builds on a recent webinar of the same title. Click here to view the presentation slides.  We hope to have a chance to hear more from teachers who have used this curriculum or who may want to use it in the future.

For a more detailed description be sure to attend Monday’s event and visit the LINCS Resource Collection profile for Staying Healthy.

We look forward to a lively round of discussion!

The LINCS Community Team

14. Instruction:  Inspiring Work Discussion:  Sample – Professional Learning Community (PLC)

Taken from LINCS Assessment

Interesting postings on Inspiring Work posted at - here is a snippet.   

Thanks for inviting us to share interesting work, David. Our agency is participating in a Professional Learning Community(PLC) as part of a PD initiative in PA. Since I saw a real need for our students to be comfortable with technology, I wanted to see it being used in the classrooms. I realized that not all of our teachers were comfortable doing this. We contracted with Steve Quann to head down to our neck of the woods in November and provide some training and resources for our teachers to use. They were given assignments to come up with standards aligned lesson plans using any type of technology they were comfortable trying. After trying it out in the class, they came back together and presented to each other. The best part was the following week. The teachers all sat together and tried out the technology shared by others using each other as resources. They were able to try out new things with the help of others and will now go back to their classes and use the new technology in their instruction. During our session break in April, we'll share again and see if the comfort level of using technology in the classroom is improving. Hopefully the teachers will also be able to report an increase in technology use by students, as well.

15. Instruction:  Teachers’ Beliefs and Students’ Success

Taken from LINCS Adult English Language Learners

Interesting discussion is taking place regarding teachers’ beliefs and differentiating instruction.  Click here to read more.  Here are a few snippets.

Snippet #1

Recently, there has been a fascinating debate about differentiating instruction on the Education Week website. Carol Ann Tomlinson recently wrote a poignant response to an article entitled "Differentiation Doesn't Work" by James R. Delisle. Some members may want to check out Tomlinson's inspiring article "Differentiation Does, In Fact, Work."

A critical component of Tomlinson's argument is the importance of a teacher's beliefs about the potential within each and every student. She writes, " ...teachers who believe firmly in the untapped capacity of each learner, and thus set out to demonstrate to students that by working hard and working smart they can achieve impressive goals, get far better results than teachers who believe some students are smart, others are not, and little can be done to change that." Members will likely recognize a "growth mindset" as an underlying principle in Tomlinson's words.

Snippet #2

As someone who has used, studied, and taught differentiated instruction for many years (I'm facilitating the TEAL DI-Writing course as we speak), I can wholeheartedly endorse Tomlinson's remarks. In adult ed, we can't apply DI as intensively as in K-12 classrooms because of our limited time with our students, but that doesn't mean we can't use it at all. Our students come to us with hugely varying strengths, experiences, and skills, but we certainly have seen that they all can learn with the proper support on our part and effort on theirs. We can't treat them all the same -- we can't even treat a single student the same all the time, because, for example, she might be a skilled writer but dreadful in math. Differentiation doesn't have to be a huge, intimidating, time-consuming project; it can be as small as allowing students to choose their own topics for writing, by allowing advanced math students to do some exploring in the area being taught, by giving English language learners a few simple options for demonstrating their language prowess.  It's not a question of "if" our students come in at different places; they do, and we must respond, as Tomlinson has said elsewhere, in ways that permit "each individual to learn as deeply as possible as quickly as possible, without assuming one student’s road map for learning is identical to anyone else’s.”

Snippet #3

Check out the article, Watering Up the Curriculum

16. Instruction:  Tutor Ready Webinar:  February 19

Taken from LINCS Notice

Join us for a webinar on Tutor Ready for February 19, 2015 at 11am Pacific/2pm Eastern

This webinar will demonstrate Tutor Ready, a freely available online resource for literacy tutors. Using Tutor Ready learning plans tutors can work at their own pace, access material anywhere and any time as they prepare to work with learners.  Tutor Ready presents research-based information in manageable chunks based on tutor questions using text, images, audio and video to illustrate tutoring techniques.  Tutor Ready can be part of pre- and in-service training as well as being available at any time that tutors have questions. Questions and discussion will follow the presentation.

Registration for the webinar will take place through this link --

The webinar will run for 1 hour, including questions and discussion. We hope to see you there!

Want to do some background reading on Tutor Ready before you register for the webinar  that is scheduled for February 19th ?   Or you can’t make it and are just interested in learning more?  See the new Tech Tip for Teachers at


A related webinar:  Tutor-Facilitated Digital Literacy in Hard-to-Serve Populations
Portland State University's Literacy, Language and Technology Research group will present preliminary findings from an Institute of Museum and Library Services funded research project, Tutor-Facilitated Digital Literacy in Hard-to-Serve Populations. Presenters will share insights gleaned from conducting and analyzing 100 participant interviews. Attendees will learn about successful learner experiences and key program features. Open discussion to follow the presentation.

This second webinar will be held on Thurs. March 5th at 10am Pacific (that's 1pm Eastern) and will run for one hour (including time for discussion and questions). 

Registrations for the March 5 webinar can be made through this link --

17. PIACC Research:  health, basic skills, technological problem-solving, and adult learning among U.S. adults

Taken from LINCS Notice

The American Institutes of Research and NCES have recently posted the 1-page summary and PowerPoint slides from our presentation, "Examining Associations between Adult Health and Literacy, Numeracy, Technological Problem-Solving Skills, and Post-Initial Learning in the U.S." The full paper will be posted soon on the PIAAC Gateway website ( Ours was one of the 7 papers commissioned by AIR (

1-page summary:

PowerPoint slides:

18. Reading Resource

Taken from LINCS Reading Apprenticeship Book Study

Ruth Schoenbach has shared with me a publication that you may find of interest at

Meryl Becker-Prezocki

19. Technology:  Low Cost Internet and Computers for Students

Taken from LINCS Technology and Learning

Just a reminder about …

And make sure your teachers and students enter using our Adult Education partner page at  (You should see a welcome page that says, “We’re working with the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education …”

If not, they will not be pre-qualified as you are when you enter through our partner page. In this way, teachers and students do not need to live in a low-income zip code to get access to some offers. For example you will not be able to access the Mobile Beacon USB modem offer that many teachers and students have found to be a great deal. 

Steve Quann, World Education, Inc.

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