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Montana Information

1.   HiSET Blast

 HiSET® Program eUpdate | January 2015

Continued Updates from HiSET Regarding Practice Tests:  2/17/15

I think there is confusion in terminology.  ETS uses the term OPT to differentiate between the publicly available tests and the tests not available to students.  Answers are below to your additional questions:

·       The first two, bulleted, tests (Free ad $7.50) are available and have a preparation scoring structure that makes them predictive for the current (2015) test. 


·       There is no 2014 OPT preparation scoring available to be predictive of the 2015 test, it will come March. 

A scale was sent with the 2014 OPT purchases.  ETS is currently conducting a field study because feedback was received from educators using the OPT stating they believed it was over-preparing students for the 2015 operational test. The scale confirmation based on the field study or edits will be available in March.

·       There is no 2015 OPT, it is coming March.

ETS is not currently planning to release another OPT(version of the practice test not available to the public) in in 2015.  ETS is releasing additional HiSET practice tests for purchase in March of 2015.  The practice tests are being created using the 2014 operational items.  The new practice test scales will be released prior to the 2015 practice tests being available for purchase.  The scales will be located on the Are You Ready to Take the HiSET® Exam?, located on the HiSET Informational Website. 

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


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 ABLE Shoptalk

Click here  to access ShopTalk Summary and topics. 

·       EdReady

o   Ed Ready PowerPoint by Jaime Middleton:  How to Get Started with EdReady

·       Pathways Overview

·       WIOA Update

·       Teaching to the Standards

o   College Career and Readiness Standards for Adult Education

·       2015 Transition Plan

3.   Montana Instruction Ideas

Check out Posting #4 about math resources.

4.   Montana Math Webinar Resources

Welcome to the Montana Math Webinars!  Check out the new math resources that have been shared by webinar participants.

Resources (Provided by Kathie Daviau, Margie Munts, and Jerry Wandler)

Click here for more information and resources.

5.   Montana Moving Pathways Forward Resources

Click here to access all MPF Resources: 

6.   WIOA Update:  WIOA Timeline

WIOA National Update 3/2/15:  More specific information below in Posting #14

A webinar, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Vision and System Update, will be held on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

You may register for this webinar at this link:

Gail Cope, LINCS Program Management Group

WIOA Montana Updates:

2/20/15:  Vision for the Workforce System and Initial Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014

Our first official guidance for the new law. Please click on the link below to read the vision for implementation; it is only seven pages.  You will be very glad we are working on the pathways partner project and that the integrated data team has already been meeting. 


Dear State Director,

On February 19, 2015, the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, in collaboration with its federal partners, released the following Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL No. 19-14,  The TEGL, entitled Vision for the Workforce System and Initial Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, lays out the vision for a revitalized workforce system under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and highlights a number of actions State and local workforce system leaders can take to begin planning and implementing WIOA prior to the release of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and publication of the final rule.

In the coming weeks, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education will be releasing a companion piece highlighting the vision and role of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act program as a workforce system partner and adult education activities that support opportunities for adult learners. 

Thank you,

Cheryl L. Keenan

Director, Adult Education and Literacy

Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education

U. S. Department of Education

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 the following:

Montana WIOA:  Chunking Pertinent Information for Montana.

National Information

   7. Career Pathways:  Making Skills Everyone's Business

Taken from LINCS

The full report, Making Skills Everyone's Business, is now available.  This report is based on:

  • a review of the performance and outcomes of state adult education practices
  • an assessment of states' status on various adult education reforms
  • consultations with several nations that have developed national strategies for improving foundation skills of adults
  • a literature review on instructional effectiveness
  • review and analysis of U.S. data as reported in the OEDC report, Time for the U.S. to Reskill, and
  • a nation-wide engagement process conducted by OCTAE leaders that sought input and recommendations from students and stakeholders.  

Making Skills Everyone’s Business, from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) describes how the convergence of activity around adult education and workforce fields has the potential to spark a coordinated national effort to address the lack of foundational skills among U.S. adults.  The NSC Leadership Council had the opportunity to weigh in at a special listening session hosted in conjunction with the 2014 Skills Summit. Many of the approaches highlighted in OCTAE’s report are already embraced by NSC members and partners. Read more about the report here.

Gail Cope, LINCS Program Management Group

More Specific Information about Making Skills Everyone's Business

Making Skills Everyone's Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States was released yesterday (February 24) by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) of the U.S. Department of Education. This important report will change how OCTAE tackles adult education and workforce skills challenges in the U.S. for some time to come. It is a visionary approach and is must reading for everyone involved at all levels of planning and service provision in this field.  

Making Skills sets forth a set of interconnected strategies and goals designed to expand, improve, and coordinate adult skills upgrading in the coming years for both employability and equity purposes. Making the most of WIOA is part of the vision, but collaboration with other federal programs and other kinds of partners is also abundantly in evidence

OCTAE has four broad goals: (1) to increase adult access or upskilling services, (2) to reduce equity gaps between services for youth and adults, (3) to carry out skills activities that are linked to other large quality-of-life issues, and (4) to promote collective collaboration. 


Who Has Low Skills?  Part I of the report draws on the findings of the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) to discuss the groups that have low skills. For example, some 36 million adults in the U.S. have low skills and score below Level 2 on the literacy assessment of PIAAC (see note 1 below).  The skills levels of our adults have "remained stagnant" over two decades, and contrary to the trend in the other industrialized countries that took part in the survey, our youngest cohorts out-perform our older adults only very slightly. About two-thirds of the low-skilled U.S. population, some 24 million adults, are employed. Three million in this group report that they would like to improve their skills but are not currently enrolled in any programs. Another 8 million are enrolled in education/training programs but say they want to do more. 

These general statistics provide part of the underlying rationale for OCTAE's new approach. The following facts are also discussed in Making Skills, providing additional fodder: One in every six adults has low literacy skills. One third of immigrants are low skilled.  One third of younger Americans are low skilled. 35% of blacks and 43% of Hispanics have low literacy skills compared with 10% of white Americans. Children of less-educated parents are more likely to be low-skilled themselves as adults. The learning disabled are twice as likely to have low skills. The majority of those with low skills (more than 60%) have completed high school. Low-skilled Americans are four times more likely to have poor health than their higher-skilled counterparts. The earnings of 40% of low-skilled Americans are in the bottom fifth of the wage spectrum.  And finally, low-skilled Americans are limited in their civic and community participation, to their own detriment and that of the nation's.  

The White House Sets Course. Based on PIAAC findings and other evidence, in Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity, the White House issued a call in 2014 for action by both public-sector and private-sector organizations. The plan was based on joint reports from the Departments of Education, Labor, Commerce, and Health and Human Services, and it was announced by the President in the State of the Union address.

The White House plan calls specifically for: (1) bringing 3 million nearly-ready-to-work adults back into jobs after more than 6 months of unemployment; (2) helping 24 million low-wage, low-skilled adults upskill themselves into better jobs; and (3) diversifying the ways that all Americans can be trained for the half million plus jobs that are unfilled today and hundreds of thousands of others that will soon emerge in information technology and other occupational areas. Its goals have been communicated to mayors and governors across the country.

OCTAE cites the White House effort and two other recent developments as the synergy for its effort to address the low skills needs of adults and narrow achievement gaps for minority groups. The other two foundational factors were the PIAAC assessment and related analyses, and the passage and implementation requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Who Would Benefit Most From Services?  Part I includes an analysis of who would most benefit from higher skills attainment. It does so with reference to the specific and differing gains (e.g., economic productivity and employability, better health, increased family literacy, higher wages, reductions in the cost of healthcare, education, and social services) that would accrue to three categories of people: individuals and families, business and industry, and communities


OCTAE's 7 Core Strategies. Part II of Making Skills Everyone's Business accounts for about two-thirds of the report. It sets forth in detail OCTAE's seven core strategies for achieving its four goals stated above. 

Each strategy is a priority area of action.  The report gives a rationale and discusses both needs and priorities. An impressive array of efforts already in process are highlighted throughout the document, reflecting commitments not only from OCTAE, but the Department of Labor and other federal departments...the federal Institute of Museum and Library Science and other library, state and regional groups...union groups (which have operated many model service programs for years)...and others. Although some of the models are carried out independently, there is strong emphasis given to collaborative initiatives. 


The exemplary work highlighted in the report not only illuminates a wide array of innovative and committed programming, but collectively it shows many of the new pathways through which significant funding is and can be made available for adult education and workforce skills development across the country--despite the profoundly negative pressures of sequestration on federal budgets at present.  

 OCTAE's seven core strategies are:


1.  Act Collectively to Raise Awareness and Take Joint Ownership of Solutions. This strategy focuses on the need for program alignment, goal-sharing across stakeholder groups, and increased awareness; on more funding and more collective impact models; and on strengthening connections between low skills and larger goals such as improving health, economic growth, meeting workforce needs, and family literacy. The strategy includes Title II programs but is not limited to them. [Links are provided to programs already in process to advance this strategy--for example, OCTAE's $1.2 million collective impact immigrant integration model in five sites...Tulsa's Career Advance...Partners for a Competitive Workforce (an initiative in a tri-state region that includes Cincinnati...and New York State's Literacy Zones initiative.]


2Transform Opportunities for Youth and Adults to Assess, Improve, and Use Foundation Skills. This strategy aims to expand and improve access and participation in skills programs for both youth and adults at all levels. It aims to increase access and opportunity through increased use of technology, accelerated program models, prior learning assessments, and such measures. [Links include Institute of Museum and Library Services...Connect ED...DOL's $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program...Jobs Madness...the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare NW Training Partnership...and Digital On-Ramps and other programs of the Mayor's Commission for Literacy in Philadelphia.]


3Make Career Pathways Available and Accessible in Every Community. This strategy aims to make pathways available in every community. It speaks about industry-relevant certifications, job acquisition and retention, professional development, and activities by college, states, regional areas, philanthropy, and the efforts of some 13 federal agencies including OMB. [Links: The Health Profession Opportunity Grant program of HHS...multistate foundation initiatives such as Breaking Through, Shifting Gears, and Accelerating Opportunity...the Moving Pathways Forward and Advancing Career and Technical Education grant projects of by the National College Transition Network developed in New England...and Texas' System for Adult Basic Education Support Integrating Career Advancement.]  


4.  Ensure That All Students Have Access to Highly Effective Teachers, Leaders, and Programs. This strategy focuses on the relationship between teachers and students. It calls for major improvements in professional development, leadership development, curriculum and instructional design, student assessment, and program monitoring and accountability, all essential if students are to have access to high quality programs. [Links: Minnesota's Student Achievement in Reading (Star)..the Literacy Information and Communications System (LINCS)...and work being undertaken by the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council and the City Colleges of Chicago.]


5.  Create a "No Wrong Door" Approach for Youth and Adult Services. A key aim of this strategy is to foster seamless program alignment at the community level. Under WIOA, each state is required to submit a unified 4-year plan that coordinates and aligns services. WIOA also mandates that adult education should represent a quarter of stakeholders at the planning table. OCTAE notes that the unified planning provisions of WIOA are a "game changer." The plans must include alignment at the state and local levels and ties as appropriate to one-stops and other local community resources including WIBS, business and labor, community-based, and adult education organizations. The one-stops are to be the main hubs for education and training at the community level. They and other partners to the planning effort must see to it that alignments are handled in a way that give youth and adults suitable referral information to career and pathways development programs suited to their needs and circumstances. The onus of providing information learners need to make program choices will be on the program providers. 

[Links are provided to: the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (a collaboration of 18 federal agencies)...the Myth Buster series of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council...HUD's new Moving to Work demonstration project...the Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth launched in late 2014 and involving numerous communities and several federal agencies...the Welcome Back initiative...the SNAP-E&T program of the Department of Agriculture...and others.] 

6.  Engage Employers To Support Upskilling More Front-Line Workers.  This strategy focuses on the 24 million low-skilled working adults and the role of employers. Among the aims of this strategy are to enlist a higher level of involvement from employers to overcome barriers that low-skilled working adults face in participating in upskilling programs, especially programs offered by business itself (see note 2 below).  Attention is given to blended programs, peer and cross-level tutoring, contextualized and integrated programming, restructuring jobs to include skills progressions, worker scheduling flexibility, and other approaches. [Links: OCTAE's Employer Engagement Tool Kit...Walmart's Career Online High School...the English Works Campaign...the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (which involves several federal agencies)...the Wadhwani Foundation's Race to a Job Initiative...the Community Health Care Association of New York State...and others.]


7.  Commit to Closing the Equity Gap for Vulnerable Subpopulations.  At the core of this strategy is the belief that "we can no longer look away!"  It reflects a sea-change view about this nation's obligation to provide equality of opportunity in education to vulnerable subgroups in the population. The U.S. ranks highest in inequality of all the nations participating in the PIAAC survey, which means that a disproportionate percentage of individuals with low skills are minorities (as the statistics at the outset show). OCTAE calls this strategy "in many ways the most important" of them all. "The ladder of opportunity is broken is too many places. Doubling our skill development efforts for these subpopulations will be key to making sure the economic recovery is working for all Americans."  


OCTAE's most passionate call to action is given in this strategical area.  It calls on philanthropy and the business community to play major roles in "seeding collective action" at the state and local levels. And it lists from WIOA 14 subpopulation groups that have significant employment barriers. Recognizing that the needs of various vulnerable groups require often unique customized interventions, it calls for "focused investments in research, development, and evaluation" to support and identify appropriate interventions and program models. [Links: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correction Education (Rand Corporation report)...New York City's Young Men's Initiative...OCTAE's partnership effort with Benetech...Young Males of Color...Silicon Valley's Alliance for Language Learners' Integration, Education, and Success...the Federal Workforce Innovation Fund, an initiative of the Gila River Indian Community...and others.]

~ ~ ~ ~

In preparing this coverage of Making Skills Everyone's Business, ALP interviewed the Acting Assistant Secretary of OCTAE, Johan Uvin.


We spoke about the variety of efforts in which OCTAE is already proactively engaged in relation to the report goals. In addition to the kinds of activity noted above, he noted that on an ongoing basis OCTAE is "co-leading the Career Pathways and Upskilling work stream of The Skills Working Group, which consists of 13 federal agencies, the National Economic Council, and the Office of Management and Budget."


We also spoke about the huge funding challenge the field faces as we work to advance adult education and workforce skills development. OCTAE is well aware of this funding need, but we live with the reality of sequestration and he observes that "achieving it is likely to take time and we need to do some things now that lead up to and support that goal." 


"Local, state, tribal, and national organizations and agencies can take a few steps. One is to better align funding so that we can get to greater access with the funding we have. A second step is to leverage and bring together various public and private sector resources. The private sector's investment in education and training is many times the public investment. A third step is to start thinking about using available resources differently. The evidence for certain program models and technology innovations is growing. Some of these innovations appear to get more people to higher levels of outcomes in relatively short periods of time. As the evidence base solidifies, it would be wise to redirect resources away from unproven interventions and towards programs that work."


"In addition to addressing the requirements under WIOA, OCTAE will continue its investments in several of the strategies such as career pathways. We are also interested in aligning our investments over time more tightly with the strategies. For instance, OCTAE acknowledges that there is a need for technical assistance in the area of place-based strategies including technical assistance around collective impact and network development approaches."  


ALP asked Mr. Uvin how state and local groups could best help advance the OCTAE vision and specific agenda. He said: "States can incorporate the principles and strategies of Making Skills Everyone's Business into interagency discussions related to talent development including discussions relevant to planning under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act."


"In addition," he said, "states can work with leaders in business, industry, and labor to expand opportunities for advancement of frontline workers and find ways to backfill those positions with low-skilled job seekers. They can also consider how their State Leadership resources can be used to find new ways of creating opportunities for more low skilled adults to assess and improve their skills."


"At the local level, there are many opportunities. One is to work with employers, labor unions, industry, workforce development and human services partners, libraries, housing authorities, public broadcasting organizations, and others on creating local career pathways that are physically and programmatically accessible. Another option or example would be for a local community to launch a community skills challenge. A third option would be for local providers to create partnerships with employers and unions to expand access to high-quality education and training. These partnerships can create internships and work-based learning opportunities."


Making Skills Everyone's Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States is available from OCTAE. Readers are also encouraged to regularly check for updates in OCTAE's new Blog. OCTAE will use the Blog to report on developments in this initiative, tagging updates with the words "Making Skills" so that readers can easily find new items.


OCTAE's plan is visionary and comprehensive. It distills what we have known for some time and heeds the advice of many informed sources. It is an ambitious attempt, despite federal funding constraints, to put it all together and reach to the future.


This comment in OCTAE's report resonates above all others: We can no longer look away!



Note 1. According to PIAAC, level 2 and below indicates limited ability to engage in text, work in numbers, and solve problems in technology-rich environments.

Note 2.  The February 6th final newsletter issue #50 of the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy covered a new report just put out from The Center on Education and the Workforce of Georgetown University.  The report, College is Just the Beginning: Employers' Role in the $1.1 Trillion Postsecondary Education and Training, provides information on the currently low percentage of low-skilled workers who are beneficiaries of employer E&T programs.  

Adult Learning Partners

Gail Spangenberg

8. Corrections:  Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS) has another groundbreaking program underway

Taken from LINCS Correctional Education

Tune in: NPR’s Marketplace highlights the transformative power of blended learning in juvenile justice facilities

CEEAS announces that today NPR will be running a feature story on how the Wyoming Girls' School has used the power of the Internet and blended learning to help it transform its school culture.  NPR will run an introduction to the pieces Monday on Morning Edition, a ten-minute segment that afternoon on Marketplace, followed by a shorter piece Tuesday on Morning Edition.  In addition, NPR will feature the story with photos and supplemental interviews on its Learning Curve website as each piece launches.

Heather Erwin

9. ESL:  Citizenship Education Discussion

Taken from LINCS Adult English Language Learners

Discussions snippets below from Adult English Language Learners:

Snippet #1

USCIS - Adult Citizenship Education Content Standards and Foundation Skills

Let’s start by discussing one of our newest resources, The Guide to the Adult Citizenship Education Content Standards and Foundation Skills. Adult education program administrators and teachers will find this guide helpful in developing a comprehensive adult citizenship curriculum and thematic lessons, selecting textbooks and supplemental materials, and creating effective learning activities.

The guide is organized around the three naturalization content areas:

  • Naturalization Pre-Interview Components
  • Naturalization Interview and Test Components
  • Naturalization Post-Interview Components

These specific sets of content areas represent citizenship knowledge that applicants need to increase their chances of success during the naturalization interview and test.

For each content area, the guide provides relevant content and progress standards. Content standards are broad statements indicating what knowledge students will demonstrate or what they will be able to do after teaching them the specific content.

Each content standard includes a list of related progress standards. These progress standards provide specific information about how students can demonstrate their mastery of the content standard. Progress standards are sometimes called indicators or benchmarks.

In addition to the content and progress standards, each citizenship content area is organized by English foundation skills. These are the overarching skills that facilitate learning of the related citizenship knowledge. The English foundation skills are speaking and listening, reading, writing, as well as locating and using information needed for the naturalization test.

Let’s take a look at one of the content standards to get a better idea of how USCIS organized the guide. On the Civics Test portion (page 11), you will find a description of the test, including that it is an oral test. This indicates that the foundation skills students will need are speaking and listening.

You can also see there are eight content standards (Content Standards 5-12) that correspond to the civics portion of the naturalization test. Within each content standard, you can see the related progress standards students need to demonstrate in order to show they have mastered the content.

Paul Kim

Snippet #2

The USCIS Naturalization Interview and Test Video can complement the activities you design in helping students master the naturalization pre-interview components.

Snippet #3


In our program we use the following books:
1. Civics and Literacy (Citizenship Passing the Test) by Lynne Weintraub (student books)
2. Citizenship: Ready for the Interview, by Lynne Weintraub (teacher resource)
**3. Citizenship Now! Student Book with Pass the Interview DVD and Audio CD: A Complete Guide for Naturalization, by Karen Hilgeman and Jennifer Cooper (previous book)

Originally, the Weintraub CPTT book was used for the Beginning and Intermediate levels; the Advanced levels used the Citizenship Now! book/CD/DVD.  However, the instructors found the Citizenship Now! book to be overly complex and it didn't address the needs of students preparing the test.  The Weintraub book serves as a great launching pad for expanding subjects with supplemental materials.  We also supplement with books like Heroes of American History, etc.

After students have studied the 100 questions and submitted the N-400 application, I meet with them one-on-one.  We spend about 2 hours reviewing the materials and also walking through the process of the interview, as it is described in the "RFTI" book and also exhibited by the many resources online at the USCIS web site and YouTube.  The best way to reduce nerves is to plan in advance.  Every student I have tutored (over the past 6 years) has passed the test!

10. ESL:  Discussion on Helping Adult English Language Learners Who Have Learning Challenges

Taken from LINCS Notice

Need help assisting your adult English language learners (ELLs) who may have learning challenges thrive in the classroom? Then save the date for next month’s Helping Adult English Language Learners Who Have Learning Challenges special discussion.

From March 2-5, 2015, special guests Robin Lovrien, Lauren Osowski, and Alicia Broggio will lead an in-depth discussion on learning challenges among adult ELLs who may or may not have undiagnosed learning disabilities. We’ll spend the week uncovering effective classroom management and instructional practices for your adult learners experiencing learning challenges.

With the goal of enhancing differentiated instructional components for teachers in mixed level ESOL settings, this event will be of particular interest to teachers, teacher aides, and tutors of adult ELLs in the LINCS Adult English Language Learners and Disabilities in Adult Education groups. The discussion will focus on strategies for effective instructional practice in the classroom.

11. GED® Discussion Continues with Posting about HSE Math Tests:  How I See the New HSE Math Exams

Taken from LINCS Assessment

[My comments here are focused on math because that is my expertise. I have worked in adult education for 10 years, across many states—as a math teacher, educational researcher, professional developer, curriculum developer, and as a consultant giving feedback on a number of federal adult education projects.]

In my view, there are deep tensions lying underneath the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the OCTAE-recommended subset of those standards for adult education, and the new HSE exams that are being discussed here.

On the one hand, it makes sense that there should be a relationship between what adult learners are doing, and the standards that we imagine are guiding instruction in the K-12 system. It’s important to remember, though, that the CCSS remains an aspiration. We do not have a large share of K-12 students meeting these standards, and we shouldn’t expect to see this any time soon.

The tensions I see in adult education stem from three competing expectations. Firstly, federal/state governments and testing companies want to project that adult numeracy teaching and HSE math tests are “aligned” or are “aligning” over time with the CCSS. Secondly, practitioners and governments believe that adults should not be held to a higher standard than high school learners (who are largely not meeting CCSS standards at present). And thirdly, practitioners and governments don’t want to see pass rates plummet on HSE exams. Simply put, these goals cannot be achieved at the same time.

The testing companies are in a heated battle for market share around the country, and some or all of them are likely tinkering with their tests to reach a “sweet spot” in the pass rate—not too high, and not too low. They can do this on the math test in a few ways. One way is to change the average difficulty of the questions, but there is a tension here because they want to project the image that they are a rigorous test aligned with the CCSS. Another way is to keep lots of difficult content, but change the number of correct answers needed to pass (the cut score). Normally, I would not expect any of the companies to admit that they are tinkering with the average difficulty level of the questions, with the cut scores, or with both of these to reach a particular pass rate, but I think we have this when one of the companies apparently claims that its pass rate will mirror the pass rate on the old GEDTS exam.

Even when company representatives say their math test is guided by a norming study done of high school students, the way those studies are designed gives the company lots of flexibility in how they ultimately set average question difficulty and the cut score.

What we do know is that none of the companies can afford to have a test that becomes known as one that students can’t pass. To avoid this, a company will likely make adjustments so that they are not very different from the pass rates on the other HSE exams. [Of course, there also is an incentive to keep a challenging test that students need to take multiple times to pass, because that leads to more profit from the extra tests students pay for. However, there has to be a limit to how low the pass rate can go before students just give up trying and states decide the test isn’t viable.]

When companies include math questions that reach far beyond the content that has been tested in the past (and that lies beyond the content knowledge of current high school seniors and the adult numeracy teaching force), the only way they can keep pass rates up is to reduce the cut score. A concern is that the cut scores in one or more of these HSE math exams could get (or are already) so low that students will pass the test even when they guess randomly. We don’t want a test that has become so challenging (in terms of the content) that it becomes easy (because a non-trivial percentage of students will pass even when guessing). A math test that can be passed by guessing should never be considered a rigorous test, or one that signals that a student is ready for college. National press reports and what we’ve seen from the companies themselves suggest this may already be happening.

Unfortunately, most state government offices in charge of adult education do not have experts who could demand information from the testing companies and analyze it from a critical perspective. Government-employed assessment and content experts should decide when items test meaningful content, not just when they are statistically reliable. Assessment experts should identify instances when cut scores get unreasonably out of whack. And content specialists should guide the companies on the appropriate subset of CCSS content to assess, and how to do that. Sadly, these decisions have and are being made almost entirely by private companies, with government officials and the public on the sidelines. We are mostly stuck with talking points from salespeople.

I would like to think the field has improved a great deal in one year, and that this explains why current pass rates on some or all of the HSE math tests might look similar to the pass rates on the old GEDTS exam. That’s not realistic, though. I think the pass rates (and how they may be changing) have much more to do with what the companies are doing behind the scenes. And this is unfortunately where we are now in adult education—private companies are in charge of high stakes assessments, and folks in the field (governments included) are on the outside trying to figure out what is going on, and what the best course of action is in our teaching. It shouldn’t be this way.

Steve Hinds

Director, Active Learning in Adult Numeracy (

Adult Numeracy Educator, Truman College (The City Colleges of Chicago)

12. Technology: - How to Get Access for Your Students

Taken from LINCS Notice

NOTE Montana!  More access on appears to be available. 

Check out your zip code!  Have your program listed by becoming a partner!

I have to share how delighted a teacher was this week to learn just how easy it was to set up a modem with a built-in Wi-Fi router. He plugged in the power cable and waited for devices to pick up the signal. Then he walked through how to connect and add in the password on the side of the modem.  Now he can give Internet access to 10 students in his class.  He was using the CLEAR Hub Express available on for teachers and programs for only $39 and $10 dollars a month.  If students have the laptops or tablets, depending on the setting, it can be well worth the dollar a month to give ten students Internet access.

Steve Quann, World Education

13. WIOA and Youth:  Expanding Opportunities Webinar

Taken from LINCS Notice

A webinar, Expanding Opportunities for Low-Income and Out-of-School Youth, is being offered by CLASP on March 5, 2015 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.  This webinar is part of a series offered in CLASP's WIOA Game Plan for Low-Income People.  You may register via this link:

Description:  WIOA offers new opportunities to focus on the most vulnerable workers—low-income adults and youth who have limited skills, lack work experience, and face other barriers to economic success. It requires that at least 75 percent of youth funds available to local areas be spent on workforce investment services for out-of-school youth ages 16 to 24. Learn about important changes to the law and how you can maximize opportunities for low-income and out-of-school youth. Hear from national, state, and local experts about strategies to help shape your state plan and make important connections to your local workforce board, as well as examples of effective education and employment interventions for this population.

Presenters will include:

  • Kisha Bird, Director of Youth Policy, CLASP
  • Susan Lange, Vice President of Youth Pathways, Commonwealth Corporation
  • Local Organization, TBA

Other topics CLASP will cover in their webinar series include transitional jobs; priority of service; youth with disabilities; connecting WIOA to human services programs; adult education; combined planning; dropout recovery and postsecondary strategies for out-of-school youth; and performance measurement and racial equity.

Click the following link to visit the website for resources relating to CLASP's WIOA Game Plan for Low-Income People.

Gail Cope

14. WIOA Webinar on March 4

Taken from LINCS Notice

A webinar, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Vision and System Update, will be held on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

You may register for this webinar at this link:

Gail Cope, LINCS Program Management Group


Please join U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for an update on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Agency leadership will share the federal vision for the workforce system under WIOA, discuss urgent actions states and local workforce areas are taking to support implementation, and take your questions.  We encourage core partners at the state and local level to participate together where possible, and to use this as an opportunity to advance your collaboration around this landmark piece of workforce legislation.


Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education

Janet LeBreck, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education

Mark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Joe Barela, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration


March 4, 2015


1:00pm ET (12:00pm/Central, 11:00am/Mountain, 10:00am/Pacific)


90 minutes

Registration for this webinar is limited and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please register today!

Register Now

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