OPI ABLE Updates Archive

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March April
















Attention Montana ABLE Programs! 

Click here http://svc.mt.gov/gsd/onestop/SolicitationDetail.aspx?SolicitationID=7213  to access information about the TANF Adult Basic Education RFP.  

The STATE OF MONTANA, Department of Public Health and Human Services, Human and Community Services Division ("State") has TANF Education Support funding available to provide grants to appropriate programs that offer adult basic education programs for TANF eligible individuals working to improve their educational skills, obtain a high school diploma, or obtain general educational development (GED) certification. Priority for funding must be given to adult basic education and programs or entities offering instruction and assistance during the months of June, July, and August.


HiSET Clarification from Amy Riker, HiSET Director High School Equivalency Testing

Click here to read HiSET response to GED Testing Service®  claims.

HiSET Presentation

Click here to access a pdf of the ETS Presentation for Montana ABLE

HiSET Webinar


ETS HiSET ABE Informational Session-20130423 1653-1
April 23, 2013, 2:06 pm New York Time
1 hour 7 mins

Alt Ed Summit

Note from Margaret Bowles: 

I am thrilled to be forwarding this email. Representatives from state ABLE programs are cordially invited to attend the first annual Alt Ed Summit. The Summit is being hosted by Superintendent Juneau, and it is a wonderful opportunity for ABLE staff to glean information on cutting-edge strategies and participate in conversation with our state education partners. It would be wonderful if we could have representation from each of our ABLE programs. 

Mark the dates on your calendar and hit the registration link. 

I look forward to seeing there. 


Where:  Paris Gibson Alternative School, Great Falls, MT

When:  June 9 & 10

On June 9 and 10, 2013, State Superintendent Denise Juneau is hosting Montana alternative education leaders at an Alt Ed Summit Designing the Future of Learning to be held at Paris Gibson Alternative School in Great Falls, Montana. Alternative education practitioners, educators, and administrators should consider attending. There is no fee for the Summit, and travel reimbursements for travel over 150 miles one-way are available. 

Preliminary topics for the Summit include: technology: tapping the explosive use of technology for greater student learning; policy: incorporating greater flexibility with sample variance to standards requests through Chapter 55; and student-centered learning: supporting strategies for student success in the 21st Century.

The Summit kicks off with an early evening reception on Sunday, June 9 at 5pm and concludes on Monday, June 10 at 4pm.

To register, please go to http://graduationmatters.mt.gov/resources.html?gpm=1_3

For more information, please contact Deb Halliday at dhalliday@mt.gov or 444-3559.


HiSET Clarification

Old Rule/New Rule 

Please continue to adhere to old rule until January 1, 2014. You must observe the current rules regarding retakes. New administrative Rule applies to the 2014 HiSET test. 

Acknowledgement Form 

Currently, your test candidates must sign the form acknowledging that their pre-2014 passing scores will not count when finishing their exam in 2014. I would advise you to continue this protocol, as the OPI has not completed negotiations with ETS. Until contracts are signed, and the process in which GED and HiSET scores will be combined is clearly defined, it is in the students’ best interest to have them understand their scores may expire. Test takers may be apprised of the possibility of banking scores, but it would be important to explain that negotiations are in process and the legal documents guaranteeing this is the case are not completed.

HiSET Facts

The 2014 HiSET will be aligned to the common core standards for math and English/Language Arts. The Phase II test will include alignment to the common core science and social studies standards. The science and social studies standards have not yet been adopted, so alignment will follow adoption.

Please contact Margaret Bowles, Adult Literacy and Basic Education Specialist, if you have any questions.

Directors' April Meeting Resources

Click here to access all information presented or click on the individual links below:

ABLE Directors Meeting





Summary:  4/11/13

I would like to thank each of you for your participation in our annual directors’ meeting. All meeting material will be posted on MTLINCS next week. 

I always value our time together, as your ideas and input truly lay the foundation for our work in the upcoming program year. I have listed a summary of the upcoming state level activities that was discussed.   

·        Develop MT ABLE Student Transition Policy to include

o   Common definitions

o   Best practices

o   State models

·        Create MT ABLE teacher effectives guide to include

o   Credential/authorization definition

o   Course work and support

·        Support standards-based instruction to include

o   Alignment with OVAE college/career readiness standards

o   Technical assistance for instructors (work with Susan Pimentel and provide follow-up professional development)

o   Work with ETS HiSET team

·        Funding formula review to include

o   Analyze impact of cohort designation

o   Review existing components

·        Data Support to include

o   Continued work with the data team and technical assistance for programs

·        EGrants

The standards, data, and teacher effectiveness review teams are in place, and during the next few months a transition and funding formula review team will be organized. If you would like to participate in any existing taskforces please contact me, there is always room for more! If you have ideas about the proposed activities or would like to add additional activities to the list please don’t hesitate to email the group so we can keep the conversation going.

Best regards,



Montana High School Equivalency

Montana High School Equivalency Test 

The Montana Board of Public Education unanimously approved the ETS HiSET as the high school equivalency test beginning January 1, 2014. I have listed below the major highlights of this assessment. The OPI will begin contract work with ETS very soon; all the details will be discussed at that time. Check out their Web site-the link is at the bottom of the page.

Margaret Bowles   

Highlights of the ETS High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) 


·    $50 (to include two free retests in a calendar year)

·    Services can include:  registration, accommodations, scoring, diagnostic score reports, and transcripts.  

Phased in Test  

Phase I

·    2014-15 test is similar to current GED.

·    Students will be allowed to use 2002 individual test battery scores to combine with HiSET test batteries.

·    Compatible with current professional development materials. 

Phase II

·    2013-2015 ETS will work collaboratively with MT to develop a college/career ready assessment aligned to the common core.   

Test Centers  

·   OPI will continue to be the entity that approves testing centers. 

·    Approved test centers can administer the new assessment within existing infrastructure.

·    Computer-based and paper/pencil test will be available. 

·    ETS plans to meet with each test center during the transition phase. 


·    ETS will help the state with the transition to include social media, radio, print, and television. 

·   ETS will schedule meetings with Department of Labor and other partners to help them with the transition.  

Smarter Balance 

·    ETS is working with the MT K-12 assessment developer; this will provide opportunity in the future to discuss connections between the HSE and the high school assessment. 

GED Close Out 

·       With the ability to combine scores with the 2002 GED series, MT can put energy and focus into the Phase II.

        For More Information Visit

 ·       http://hiset.ets.org/  

Please contact Margaret Bowles, if you have any immediate questions.

MPAEA Conference 2013

Click here https://www.mpaea.org/?page=conference to access MPAEA Conference 2013.

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/mpaea/MPAEA2013_LINCS_STRAND.pdf  to access LINCS Strand at MPAEA 2013.   

Montana Directors' Meeting

Logistics Reminder

Directors' Meeting

Holiday Inn Downtown

Elkhorn Rooms A & B

April 9-10, 2013

April 9th

8:30 A.M.

·        TABE Training

·        Bring a copy of the TABE Norms Book Complete Battery and Survey All Levels for Form 9 and 10 (extras will be available if you don't have one)

·        ABLE Business Meeting

·        Bring laptop

·        Bring your MABLE flash drive with the following downloaded

·        Cohort report (be prepared to discuss how many potential students in each cohort)

·        The classroom report

·        Table 4 (very recent)

 April 10th

Starting time tentatively set for 8:30

·        Bring a copy of your last extension application 2011

 See you soon,


Agenda Items

A busy two days are being planned for our directors' only meeting on April 9th and 10th. With so many significant changes it is important for us to have time to look at data, share ideas, and have information that will make a difference in the months remaining in this program year. 

Below is an overview of significant topics and pre-meeting activities for you to complete. As you read on you will note there will be a lot of time spent on laptops, so come charged!!

TABE: I am required to provide a TABE training each year, and the participant is obligated to be the TABE trainer for their program. This year the training is going to be geared for directors; each of you can return to your programs and share the information with a current designated trainer. You will be immersed in learning how to make the TABE work for your program.

Cohorts: We are going to be discussing cohort reports to determine how many students are potentially in each cohort and be prepared to discuss the impact on curriculum and partnerships.

  • Pre-meeting activity

    • Download your cohort report on your MABLE flash drive and be prepared to share how many students are in each cohort and what you are doing to track student progress.

Classroom Report:  Peruse the classroom report prior to the meeting; the report instructions are attached for you convenience.

  • Pre-meeting activity

    • Download the classroom report on your MABLE flash drive and bring all questions you may have regarding the report.

 State Targets and Student Persistence:

  • Pre-meeting activity

    • Down load your most recent Table 4 on your MABLE flash drive.


  • Pre-meeting activity:

    • Download your 2011 Extension Application and bring it to the conference. You will be using this application as a guide for your e-grant entries. You will likely want a paper copy for reference.

    • Create an e-grant account if you don't already have one with the state. Watch for Carol's email on setting up an e-grant account.

Other agenda items include the new HSE, funding, ESL updates, teacher effectiveness.



Good Morning,

We will be having our Program Director’s Only meeting on April 9-10, 2013 at the Holiday Inn Downtown.  I have sleeping rooms blocked for the evening of April 8 and 9 and you need to make your reservations  NO LATER THAN MARCH 24.  Please call Holiday Inn Downtown at  443-2200 at your earliest convenience.   Lauree tells me the hotel is sold out as are other hotels with so much going on with legislature.  The block of rooms are under OPI Adult Education.

We will be meeting downstairs in the Elkhorn rooms and we’ll start promptly at 8:30 am on April 9, 2013.

We will be walking through the E-Grants system with you so in order to do that you will need to do the following ASAP! ...


Please email me to confirm your attendance.



MABLE Assessment Standards and Guidelines Update

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/pp/mt_able_policies_and_procedures.htm for the update.

Attached please find the updated Montana ABLE Assessment Standards and Guidelines document. We removed the old Student Profile from the appendices of the document and inserted the new 2013 Student Profile form in the appendices in the document.
The updated 2013 Student Profile Form is also on the website as a standalone document that can be filled in electronically.
Our website is http://www.opi.mt.gov To find these documents and other related documents click on the Programs button, Career, Technical and Adult Education (CTAE), then Adult Basic Education and finally related documents.
Carol Flynn

Goal and Cohort Resources

Did you attend the Montana ABLE Cohort Trainings in Billings or Missoula?  Need a copy of the PowerPoint presentation?  Click below.

·       Goals, Cohorts, and New Reports, Oh My! – PowerPoint

·       Goals, Cohorts, and New Reports, Oh My! – pdf


January Meetings

Good Afternoon,

In our last Shop Talk  conversation, we confirmed we would be having two regional meetings to help  you with   NRS reporting changes (Cohorts for Enter Employment, Retain Employment, GED and Post-Secondary Education) that will go into effect July 1, 2013.  Additionally, we will be sharing lots of great new information to help you manage that data.

 We will be meeting in:


January 17 9 to 3


Lincoln Center Board Room, 415 N. 30th

Sleeping Rooms are blocked under OPI at:  Crowne Plaza, 27 N. 27th, 406-252-7400  

January 31 9:30 to 3:30


Dickinson Lifelong Learning Center, 310 S. Curtis Sleeping Rooms are blocked under OPI at:  Hilton Garden Inn - Missoula,  3702 North Reserve Street, 406-532-5300

Release date on the rooms will be 1/6/2013                      Release date on the rooms will be 12/31/12

Program Director and key data entry staff should attend.  Lunch will be provided.  We will reimburse lodging and meals not provided while in travel status.  One vehicle per site will be reimbursed for mileage. 

Please email me no later than December 21 and let me know who from your program will be attending each of the trainings.

Thank you!!

Carol Flynn 



Click here to access November Shoptalk.

GED Closeout Materials

Click here for GED Program Undergoing Major Changes.

Click here for Fact Sheet 2012.

Click here for GED PSA (radio).

Please find attached (above) documents to help all test centers in sunsetting the 2002 GED Test. These materials are intended to support you in reaching out to test takers  in your area; you are encouraged to modify or use this information to create material specific to your area.

The package includes:

·        PSA templates (these will need to modified to fit the exact time frames-it will be important to pick out the key message needed for your area)

·        Informational paper

·        Fact Sheet

The Fact Sheet, Redesign Paper, and PSA's were written in collaboration with the State Workforce Board staff; the staff understands the connection between a vibrant workforce and the GED. They want to support adult learners and help us reach out through the Future ForGED Initiative. Additional Future ForGED material can be requested from our office.

I understand that many of you are planning specific close activites in your areas, and if you have an event, or activity, that has a noted impact on getting people into your test centers, please let me know and I can share with other centers through the montanagednow.mt.gov web site.

Please contact me if you have any questions.


John Peterson

GED Education Specialist

Office Of Public Instruction



Math TATT Trainings
Good Afternoon:
I just want to remind those of you who are doing the TATT Training in Billings on October 18 during the MEA-MFT Convention to please get registered ASAP. You need to register with MEA-MFT and pay the $25.00 to MEA-MFT and I’ll reimburse you. The deadline to register is only 5 days away.
Then let me know who from your programs will be attending the TATT training so that I can get lunches lined up. As of today, I only have two individuals signed up for the TATT Training in Billings. If you have forgotten to let me know, please do so right away.
Thank you!

Good Afternoon,

I have had several calls asking for clarification on MEA-MFT registration and the TATT Training in Billings. For those of you who plan on going to Billings in October, please read the additional information that Kathie Daviau asked me to send out to you.
Montana Adult Education TATT 2012
Thursday, October 18
8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
7 Renewal Units Available
Course Location:
Registration for the Educators Conference will be at Skyview High School. You may register Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. If on-site registration is available, you will be informed before the conference.
Conference location: Castle Rock Middle School, Room 303
1441 Governors Boulevard, Billings
Course Description:
The Montana Adult Education TATT 2012 addresses topics that are pertinent today: the 2014 GED, ten principles of teaching math, the common core standards, and the Montana ABLE Tool box. To end the day, we will have a round table discussion of relevant topics.
Registration Information
· Go to http://mea-mft.org/and click on the Educators Conference tab.
· Select: Member of MAACE
· $25 charge for registration, which will be reimbursed after the conference. Remember to print your receipt.
Additional Information
· Lunch is provided. It is a working lunch.
· Your $25 registration includes a no-cost dinner to the Teacher of the Year Banquet on Thursday evening. This is a wonderful meal and an inspirational event.
· Your registration also includes the Friday sectionals. MAACE sponsored sectionals include development of the criminal child, Adobe Photoshop, and how to create effective crisis and behavior plans.
· OPI renewal units will be awarded for the TATT hours if you stay for the entire 7 hours of sectionals. MEA-MFT can award renewal units for individual sectionals. However, the $25 registration fee will not be reimbursed unless you attend the entire TATT training.
· If you do not preregister by October 9, the registration fee is $50. You will be reimbursed for only $25. So register today!

Hope this answers more of your questions.


Click below on region for more information.


October 18th in Billings
November 2 in Missoula
Good Afternoon:
Open the attachments above to get the information on the fall TATT Trainings that Kathie Daviau and Kathy Jackson will be doing again this year.
Thank you,


Data Quality

Click here for Data Quality 2012 agenda.

BEST Data Quality Conference Ever

MABLE and Much, Much More!

The conference committee has designed a fast-paced conference that weaves data, curriculum, and assessment together. Directors and staff will return to work with a plethora of ideas to link data analysis and program improvement in innovative ways that will ultimately enhance student retention and educational gains.

Each program should plan on bringing at least one laptop, as we have a very special group activity that will require teams to look at information on a computer. If several people are coming from your program, you may want to bring more than one laptop.

See you September 18th and 19th in Helena!

Please see attached agenda for a sneak preview.

Margaret Bowles



MABLE Users Manual

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/pp/MABLEUserManualJuly2012.pdf to access MABLE Users Manual.

As promised, attached is the new Mable User’s Manual. We have made some changes to MABLE per the new NRS Guidelines that took effect on July 1, 2012. The Personnel section (pages 4-8) is new. Pages 14-15 in the student section cover the new fields.And, we also updated the information on the Goals page 18. The rest of the document is basically the same as before.
We hope you will find this document helpful and that it walks you through the new fields that have been added. The document will be posted in MABLE under the Help Menu, Useful Forms and General Information early next week.













December January


October November


August September



CTE Reform

Click on OVAE Connection http://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/ovaeconnection/2012/06212012.html to access more information about Career and Technical Education Reform.

CTE Innovation: Career Academies

President Obama’s 2013 budget request, as well as the Blueprint for An America Built to Last and Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education, propose the establishment of more high-quality career academies across the country. The request for the academies is $1 billion over three years with $200 million designated for FY 2013 ...

Click here http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/cte/transforming-career-technical-education.pdf to access Investing in America's Future:  A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education.

NRS Changes/MABLE Resources

Click below to access resources from Adobe Connect meeting.

Good Morning,

Thanks to everyone who joined in the meeting this morning, and as promised we have material for you. The Adobe Connect recorded session and Q & A will be forthcoming.

Attached are the PowerPoint, new student Intake Form, and the definitions of the optional student measures you can now enter into MABLE. I am sorry we haven't been collecting all of these measures through the years, as it is compelling information when describing our student population to stakeholders. The good news is we will now have this to report.

Please contact us if you would like an additional MABLE session in the coming weeks, as we are eager to assist in the new reporting.




NRS Changes



TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012

9:00 AM TO 11:00 AM

Good Afternoon:

We would like to visit with as many of you as possible via an Adobe Connect meeting on next Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 9:00 am.  We have blocked  two hours for the meeting but I’m sure we will not take the full two hours.  We want to show you the new fields in MABLE and discuss with you what you need to know about the NRS changes that will take place on July 1.

Please let me know who from your program will be participating in the Adobe Connect meeting by Thursday, June 21, 2012!  We need  at least one person from each program to participate.

 A few things we’ll be sharing with you will include:

·       Updates to the personnel page and student page

·       Professional development page

·       Cohorts

·       New intake form will be available July 1

More information  will be available at the Data Quality meeting September 18-19, 2012 to be held at the Holiday Inn Downtown, Helena, MT. 

If there are some of you out there unfamiliar with Adobe Connect, Linda Gardner is willing to visit with you prior to next Tuesday to make sure you are comfortable getting into the meeting.  You can email her at ligardner@mt.gov  or call her at 406-444-0281.     

To join the meeting:


Once the page opens up, click to enter as a guest and type in your name or program name then enter the room.  If you have not done Adobe connect before it may be a good idea to test your connections before Tuesday.  Click on the link below to test your connection or to get a quick overview of what adobe connect is all about.



If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:

Test your connection: http://connect.opi.mt.gov/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm

Get a quick overview: http://www.adobe.com/go/connectpro_overview

Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat and Adobe Connect are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

Look forward to chatting with you next Tuesday.


We will use this time to introduce the changes to MABLE. More information will be coming on the delivery system we will use.

Thank you,


CollegeNOW/Best Practices Conference Summary

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/ABLENext_Steps2012.pdf   to access a summary ABLE Next Steps based on Best Practices Conference.

Good Afternoon,

I want to thank all of you for your participation in the Best Practices Conferences; it was ground-breaking for ABLE. I will continue to visit with Sue Jones, Darren Pitcher, and John Cech regarding the important role of ABLE in the P-20 education system. I definitely hope to include creating a focus group to discuss ABLE rebranding on the next College!NOW sub-committee meeting agenda. 

I am attaching the summary of the next steps for ABLE that was discussed at the end of the conference. The list includes immediate steps that can be taken at the local level, as well as State level work.

One immediate State level activity was to update the memos we are including in all mail to GED test takers; on both the congratulatory message and the message to individuals who have not passed, or have to take additional tests, I have added a note to contact a local adult education center to help him/her in planning for the next steps. If you have any suggestions regarding the message, please let me know by Friday, June 22nd, ideas for modifications are welcome! The updated memos will begin going out next week.  

Also on the list of immediate State level activities was for me to contact DPHHS regarding any changes in the TANF education rules. I did contact Hank Hudson, and he confirmed there have been no changes. Some local case workers may work collaboratively with local education providers; these would be local level decisions. 

I look forward to our future work with postsecondary. We have outlined some very pro-active steps.



Bridge Curriculum

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/CP/cp_resource.htm#Bridge Program  to access DRAFT VERSIONS of the Bridge Curriculum.

Good Afternoon,

Attached is the draft Bridge Curriculum that has been developed for ABLE instructors to use to assist students in their transitions from ABLE to careers and postsecondary.  The Power Point and Word document contain the same information; we just wanted to offer the material in more than one format. Please encourage your staff to peruse through the curriculum over the summer months, as we would like to hear suggestions and comments from the field. At the conclusion of the summer these draft documents will be finalized and reviewed at the Data Quality Conference in September.

The intent of the curriculum is to have abundant free resources available for teachers to use to assist students in moving through ABLE. The curriculum builds on the PEP Talk Process and all the other wonderful, creative strategies teachers are using; once the student's PEP Talk Plan and specific academic needs are identified teachers can differentiate instruction using the Bridge Curriculum when needed.

We look forward to hearing from you, 

Margaret, Suzette, and Michelle



ESL - BEST+ Trainer

Good Afternoon,

I am happy to announce that Katya Marandino Irish has received her BEST Plus Certification; she is now a member of the small cadre of national trainers.

This certification is a very rigorous and long-term process; Katya invested many hours and submitted volumes of documentation (including a video showcasing her instruction). We are very fortunate to have our very own state trainer!

Congratulations, Katya!

Margaret Bowles


Click here http://www.mdrc.org/publications/629/full.pdf to access Returning to Work after Prison.

A link to Returning to Work After Prison; good information for those of you working with corrections. 

CTE Blue Print and PBF; adult education is ahead of the curve. 

Have a great Thursday, May 31, 2012 


GED Website

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/GED/URL_Key_New_GEDTS_Website_May20121.pdf  to access list of new URLs.

Good Afternoon,

GED Testing Service hosted a conference call this morning for state administrators, and they did inform us that this summer the goal is to start rolling out instructional material for the new test. The item sampler is still scheduled to be released in July.

Regarding the price list for the 2014 test, they have not made a determination on the cost per battery. The price will stay at $120 for the entire test for the 2014 year; but, with the change from five to four tests, they are not sure what each battery will cost. The language arts will be significantly longer, so this test may cost more.

They have created a list of all the new URLs on the GED Testing Service Website, which I have attached.

Texas, Missouri, and New York have released RFI's asking for vendors to respond regarding development of a high school equivalency test. These states will share the results with other states that are interested. I will keep you posted as this moves forward.

 Please contact me if you have any questions.



CollegeNOW Agenda

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/ServingUnderpreparedStudent_Agenda%20Final%205%2016%2012.pdf  to access agenda.


Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/shoptalk5-22-12.pdf  to access May ShopTalk.


TABE Training Postings

ABLE Application




If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:

Test your connection: http://connect.opi.mt.gov/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm

Get a quick overview: http://www.adobe.com/go/connectpro_overview






GRANT ACTIVITIES:       Adult Basic and Literacy Education

GRANT AGENCY:   Office of Public Instruction

AUTHORITY:              Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (1998)

RELEASE DATE:   April 16, 2012     http://www.opi.mt.gov/pdf/ABE/12ABE_RFP.docx



DEADLINE:               Applications are due Friday, May 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm                                                               Mountain Time

GRANT PERIOD:   July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013


ELIGIBLE                 Local educational agency, community-based organization of demonstrated

APPLICANTS:             effectiveness, volunteer literacy organization of demonstrated

                        effectiveness, institution of higher education, public or private non-profit

                        agency,        library, public housing authority, other non-profit institutions

                        providing literacy services to adults and  families.  A consortium of the above                                .

                        listed eligible applicants may also apply.


DEFINITION OF           The term “adult education” means services or instruction below the post-

ADULT:          secondary level for individuals who have attained 16 years of age, who are

                        not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under State

                        law; who lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable the

                        individual to function effectively in society; who do not have a secondary

                        school diploma or its recognized equivalent, or have not achieved an

                        equivalent level of academic performance; or who are unable to speak, read,

                               or write the English language.


BIDDER          A  Bidder’s Conference will be held April 23, 2012 at 9:00 – 11:00 am at the

CONFERENCE:             following link:  http://connect.opi.mt.gov/mable/      

                        The Bidder’s Conference will be the main opportunity for potential applicants

                        to ask questions.  All questions and answers will be posted on our website after

                        the conference call no later than the following Monday.


HOW TO APPLY:   Application will be available April 16, 2012 at http://www.opi.mt.gov

                               or by contacting the Division of Career, Technical and Adult Education at

                        (406) 444-1691

Best Practices Conference

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/BestPractices4Serving_UnderpreparedStudents.pdf for more information.

Dear Directors,

More follow-up information from the directors' meeting; a three-hour meeting is a bit rushed!

Preliminary conference calls with the presenter/resource person, for the Best Practices in Serving the Underprepared Student, Bruce Vandal, (who, by the way, is with ECS, the Education Commission of the States), suggested that he could contact Jobs for the Future to identify a resource person for the ABE attendees.  We said “Sure!” ---and the good news is that he received word that a representative from the Accelerating Opportunity project will be available for our workshop.  He says that person will help us with the Adult Basic Education conversation part of the workshop. This will be a great opportunity to glean information from the national perspective and a successful project.

The conference will be free-of-charge and will include a continental breakfast and buffet lunch on both days.

An agenda will be for sent soon; registration and lodging information are included in the attachment.

Another terrific opportunity!




Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/mtlincsguide2012.pdf  to access MTLINCS Guide 2012.

MPAEA Awards to Montanans

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/mpaea/MPAEAAwards2012.pdf to see your Montana MPAEA Award Winners.

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/mpaea/mpaeafaces2012.pdf to see more faces from MPAEA 2012.

MABLE Data Team

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/data/MontanaABLE_Data_Team2012.pdf to see your MABLE Data Team.

State Directors' Meeting PowerPoint by Margaret Bowles

Click here  http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/Montana_Adult_Basic_and_Literacy_Education2.pdf for a pdf of the PowerPoint.

Summary of Montana Data Trends by Renee Bentham

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/data/Data_Trends4-13-12.pdf  for a pdf of Montana Data Trends.

State Directors' Meeting

State Directors' Meeting

April 12, 2012

Red Lion, Helena, MT

1:45-5:00 p.m.


Good Morning,

I am looking forward to our State directors' meeting, as there are many important topics and opportunities to discuss. Although the directors' meeting is in the MPAEA Conference schedule, this is a place-holder for the conference planning committee to ensure we have a meeting room for the afternoon. The meeting will begin at approximately 1:45 (after the luncheon) and last to approximately 5:00 P.M.

I have attached a draft agenda for our meeting. Please let me know if there is any specific topic(s) you would like covered that is not on the agenda.

One agenda item I know you will all be very interested in is Renee's technical assistance summary. She will present a state summary, as well as summary by program size (small, medium, and large). She would like each of you to bring the data summary spreadsheet she prepared for your program, as it will be very helpful if you have your summary in hand to compare with the statewide data.






March ShopTalk

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/shoptalk3-20-12.pdf  to access March ShopTalk.

New MABLE Features

Good Afternoon,

Our programmer, Joe, has been a VERY BUSY guy.  By tomorrow, or Monday, two new features will be moved into production in MABLE.

A GED report will be added to MABLE (perfect time to help find those folks who need to complete their GED test), and the site summary grid on students needing testing will be a little different.  The only names remaining on the summary page will be students needing pretests and those in the 30 day window.  By clicking next to the student list that will remain on summary page, you will see a link to the Site Summary Active Student List.  The report will provide detailed student information. 

More information on these features will be forth coming. The data team has given incredible guidance on these enhancements; and I you can look forward to hearing from them in our upcoming meetings.




February ShopTalk

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/shoptalk2-21-12.pdf  to access February ShopTalk.


Thank you for your time this morning; attached is a summary of topics discussed.

Distance Learning Reminder

Please confirm with Carol by tomorrow afternoon who will be participating in the Distance Learning Refresher from your program. In one hour Melinda will share all of the tips and tricks that make GED Online work; a second session will be scheduled with instructors within two-to-three weeks following the March 2nd session. Even more tips and tricks, and a chance to discuss questions that arise between the first and second session.

MPAEA Update

A tentative conference schedule is on the Web site. Brenda Dann Messier is definitely on for Friday, April 13th luncheon keynote.

Thanks for your great work,


MABLE Site Performance Summary

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/pp/MABLEFAQCurrentUpdate2-14-12.pdf  and go to p. 11 for an explanation of the Site Performance Summary

Good Morning,

I am happy to share the latest update to MABLE; directors and teachers who have access to MABLE now have a Site Performance Summary. If you go to the Summary Tab in the upper left-hand corner, you will see Site Performance Summary in the drop down. The summary will give you data on:

·        Core goal completion

·        Level completion

·        Goals and goal setting

·        Enrollment and attendance

Attached is the MABLE FAQ that we now use to keep a running log on updates and changes to MABLE (You can also find the FAQ in MABLE and in the ABLE Handbook in MTLINCS). 

The site performance description begins on page 11.

The OPI MABLE staff is very grateful to the field data team (Norene Peterson, Betty Botnen, Sarah Ghicadus, and Renee Bentham). Their input in the development of the Site Performance Summary was invaluable!

Best Regards,



MPAEA 2012

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/MPAEA2012_activities_state_support.pdf  for Montana Logistical Update for MPAEA 2012.


GED Update


With January 2012 just around the corner, I would like to share the progress that is being made to prepare Montana for transition to a GED computer-based test with content aligned to the common core standards.

·        A task force with representation from higher education, K-12, GED examiners, and the State Workforce Investment Board will be meeting on January 9th to review Administrative Rule.

·        There will be no changes in GED fees or test administration until the Rules have been reviewed and adopted. This will likely be a 6-8 month process.

I will keep you apprised of proposed changes as the work proceeds.

GED Testing has informed me that there may be information on the content of the new test by the summer of 2012.



Surveys:  Bridge Curriculum and MABLE Data

Good Morning,

It is the season for surveys!

Staff Survey-Please forward

I would like to remind you that the Bridge Curriculum Survey should be distributed to staff and submitted to Suzette Fox. I am becoming increasingly aware of the importance of having a statewide transition course. Please have your instructors complete this survey; curriculum developers need to have a clear understanding of program needs and existing resources.

Directors, Data Personnel, MABLE Users Survey-Please forward

Below is the link to the survey Renee Bentham discussed in our November Shop Talk. This survey is going to be used by the MABLE team to guide them in the development of a Best Practices Manual for all MABLE users. The committee would like this survey to be completed by directors, data entry personnel, and staff who use MABLE or who may be very interested in becoming more involved in working with the data.

Here is the link for the MABLE DATA SURVEY:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6MVPDVF

Both surveys are to be completed by December 16, 2011.

We know that everyone is incredibly busy, but the surveys are only way we can receive the feedback needed to create resources that will make work easier for everyone.



Directors Meeting

Good Morning,

I would like to thank all of you who submitted an e-mail sharing your preference for a January director's meeting or rescheduling the directors' meeting to coincide with the MPAEA Conference. The overwhelming majority prefer to meet in the spring.  

As things are evolving a spring meeting will be very timely; the OPI staff had a Webinar with OVAE/NRS yesterday to learn more about the new NRS guidelines and programming changes that are going to be required by July 1, 2012.   After this meeting, I am confident we need to set aside time for staff training to help you prepare for the upcoming changes. OPI staff will be participating in more Webinars over the coming months to receive guidance on implementation of the new rules. By spring we will have completed all meetings with OVAE/NRS and will be able to begin the implementation conversation with all ABLE programs.

Beyond NRS changes, I am hoping we will know about our state allocation and other important topics in April.  

Currently, we have a Shop Talk Scheduled for January, and if need be I will extend the time of this call to adequately cover all agenda items.  We will not schedule another conference call or meeting in January. We will make the January 17th Shop Talk meet our needs.

Margaret Bowles

Employment Goals and Employment Status

Click here for explanation about Employment Goals/Employment Status.

Good Afternoon,

Many of you were in attendance at the MABLE break-out session during the September Data Quality Conference. During the conference a question came up regarding employment status that is reported in MABLE. Our MABLE experts spent considerable time looking at the employment status question. I am happy to report there is no glitch in MABLE; your employment data match is working very well.
Attached is an explanation entitled Employment Goals/Employment Status.
I want to extend special thanks to the folks who spent considerable time addressing this issue: Norene Peterson, Char Hurd, Betty Boten, Erin Niedge, Renee Bentham, Linda Gardner, and Carol Flynn.
If you have any questions, please contact me.

MABLE Update on Student Goals from Year to Year

November 1, 2011:  Displaying Student Goals on Student Pages

Mable will only display current year goals at the top of the Student pages. As always, a complete list of the student’s goals can be viewed in a grid at the bottom of the Student Summary page.

This is a fix that has just been completed in MABLE; we added this fix to the attached FAQ. Beginning this program year, we decided to track all changes to MABLE in an appendix at the end of the FAQ. You can always find the FAQ in LINCS, and it is also in MABLE.

Kudos to the field that brought this needed fix to our attention.




Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research Report

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/research/Improving_Adult%20_Literacy_Instruction.pdf for a pre-publication copy of the report.

Learning to Achieve Agenda



Good Afternoon,

Attached please find the agenda for the L2A trainings. CLICK HERE FOR THE AGENDA. The agenda is the same for both trainings.

I want to remind you if you do not  already know, all participants must bring a 1 ½” binder to the training.

Please share this email with your colleagues who will be attending the training.  My email is not all inclusive because I do not have emails for some individuals who will be coming and I want to make sure they come to the training with the required binder.

For those of you attending the Western Training/MEA/MFT, I need a copy of your confirmation  that you are attending MEA/MFT so that I can reimburse you the $25.00 registration fee.  I need proof that you attended  in order to reimburse you.

Thank you for your attention these matters.


Learning to Achieve Training Update

Hello Everyone!

I have attached the logistical information on the Learning to Achieve Trainings that will be coming up in Missoula and Billings in October. Training days will start at 8:30!

Select the region closest to you that fits your schedule. This training is directly connected to Standards in Action because you will learn additional strategies to make EFL gains for lower level learners.

OPI will reimburse up to four participants per program and directors are strongly encouraged to attend. We want every program represented at one of the nationally recognized trainings. An agenda will be forthcoming.


Thank you,


Click here for Eastern Regional Training information.

Click here for Western Regional Training information


Data Quality 2011 Resources

Click here to access DQ 2011 resources.



Good Morning,

I would like to thank everyone for your participation in the Data Quality Conference last week. It was a very rewarding conference; evaluations confirmed that teachers and data entry staff found the information relevant and the foundation for future program improvement decisions. Below is a summary of important activities and dates for you to mark on your calendar:

Data Clean Up-Getting Ready for Data Match

·        September 30th

·        Per the training at the Data Quality Conference, this is the date to have completed data clean-up.

Revised Extension Plans-Optional

·        October 6th

·        After reviewing program improvement plans at the Data Quality Conference, several of you determined that you would like to modify your extension plans. Please send updated program improvement pages to Carol Flynn.

Standards-in-Action Training-Let us know if you are interested in quality professional development delivered to your area! The Traveling Technical Assistance Team (TATT) is ready to travel the state to bring outstanding instructional ideas your way!

·        October 3rd

·        Evaluations confirmed teachers were energized and motivated by the Standards-in-Action strand at the Data Quality Conference. We need confirmation on the number of programs that would like to participate in regional trainings that will assist instructors with implementation of standards-based instruction for math. Once we have confirmation of programs, a schedule of site visits will be set up. After the visits, you can set back and watch math achievement soar!

Learning to Achieve (two trainings to choose from)-Learn the strategies to effectively work with adults with learning disabilities; a nationally recognized training that makes a difference!

·        October 3rd

·        Send list of participants for L2A training to Carol Flynn. OPI will need the list of participants in order to set up reimbursements with fiscal. Participant numbers are also needed for finalizing our materials order.

Programs will be reimbursed for up to four participants. Directors are encouraged to be one of the four participants.

·        October 20th:   Missoula training

·        Registration on MEA Website September 27th if you are paying by check.

·        Registration on MEA Website by October 11th if you are paying by credit/debit card.

·        Attachment has links for MEA registration.

·        October 27th:   Billings training

·        No official registration required (participant list to OPI is all that is needed)

I look forward to getting the TATT teams out to various regions in the state and seeing everyone at the L2A trainings,



GED Conference 2011 Agenda

Click here for the agenda.

Data Quality 2011 Agenda

Click here for the agenda.



Data Quality

Good Morning!
I can’t believe we are talking about September!!  I’m not done with summer yet!
Would you please be so kind as to email me as soon as you can, and no later than  August 18, to let me know who will be coming to our DQI/Standards meeting from your program.  The date of the meeting is September 21-22, 2011.
Also, please be sure you call the Red Lion at 443-2100 and reserve the sleeping rooms you will need for your group.  They are blocked  under “OPI – Adult Education”.  Red Lion will release any rooms not called for on August 21.
We will be meeting at the Red Lion in the Legislative Room.   The hands on MABLE work will be done in our OPI Training Room, 1227 11th Avenue.  More information will be forthcoming!!
See you on September 21 and 22, 2011!!

Learning to Achieve Conference Calls



As requested, I have changed the conference call to Wednesday, September 7, 3:30 to 4:30 pm.

Please call 1-888-224-5891 and give the password 2047.


I have sleeping rooms blocked at the Country Inn and Suites. They are located at 231 Main Street. Take the Metra Exit. Call them at 245-9995 and guarantee a sleeping room. They are blocked under OPI – Adult Education. The release date on the rooms will be October 11, 2011.




As requested, I have changed the conference call to Tuesday, September 6th  from 3:30 to 4:30 pm.
Please call 1-888-224-5891 and give the password 2047.  Camille, if you are in Helena, you will be local so you call 444-7957 and give the password 2047.  Otherwise use the long distance number.


I have sleeping rooms blocked for the evening of October 19 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula.  They are located at 3720 North Reserve Street.  Please call them at 406-532-5300 and guarantee a sleeping room.  They are blocked under OPI.  You need to make your reservations no later than September 20, 2011 as that is the release date of the rooms.



Career Pathways

Dear Directors,

I would like to encourage you to register for the Career Pathways Summit in Helena on August 16th. You received the invitation in mid-July, and many of you have already registered to attend.  I believe this will be an important conference for each ABLE program to have representation. I will reimburse one person from each program to attend this one day meeting; this would include travel, meals and lodging, if necessary.  You will be receiving another invitation from Adrienne Piccono at the State Workforce Investment Board tomorrow or Monday. We have extended registration to Wednesday, August 10th; you can register when you receive the invitation, or you may click on the lick below and register now! An agenda will be attached to the new invitation, and I think you will be impressed with the caliber of the presenters. I am especially excited that Willa Panzer, ABE Director from Wisconsin, will be presenting. Wisconsin is one of the premiere states in pathways implementation; I am certain we will glean some ideas from the work they have accomplished.

Career pathways are mentioned in the recent reauthorization bill numerous times, and during meetings with the Career Pathways Technical Assistance Team, I have been advised that future grants will require collaborative pathway work between agencies. I believe there are definite action steps Montana ABLE can do to position our programs for upcoming grants. First, we can glean ideas from the presenters and participants at this conference. Secondly, following this summit we will begin development of a statewide ABLE pathway curriculum.  The instructors that volunteered to work on the National Career Awareness Project team last spring will begin work this fall on a Montana Career Pathway Curriculum that can be incorporated into instructional and counseling activities.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss career pathways, please contact me.

I do look forward to seeing you at the conference. It is going to be a terrific jumpstart to the pathway work that lies ahead.


Montana Career Pathways Summit

“Ideally, career pathways are not a separate program, but a framework for weaving together adult education, training, and college programs that are currently separated into silos and connecting those services to employers’ workforce needs.” Funding Career Pathways and Career Pathway Bridges: A Federal Policy Toolkit for States, CLASP

Where: Gateway Center 1710 National Ave, Helena, MT

When: August, 16th 2011

Time: 9am until 5pm

Free Registration: (August 5th deadline)



April May












Post Testing Protocol

Click here for help with Post Testing Protocol.

Good Morning,
We had our Director’s Shop Talk call this past Tuesday and there was lots of discussion about trying to post test as many students as we possibly can between now and June 30 so that we can meet our performance targets for 2010-2011.
Open this document to discover a fast and efficient way to find these students!  Together we will meet our negotiated targets.
Kudos to Renee in Missoula and Linda for pulling together a document to guide the process of finding students who are eligible for a post test.

TABE Locator White Paper

May Shop Talk

Good Afternoon:

Thank you all for participating in this morning’s Shop Talk.  As promised, please find attached the TABE White Paper, May Shop Talk notes, the updated MABLE FAQ document and the PowerPoint  on Effective Teachers that Margaret received in DC at her director’s meeting.

If you have any questions on the spreadsheets I sent you, don’t hesitate to call or email me.  I  looked at your TABLE 4 for students with 12 or more hours and included any satellites you may have as of last Friday, May 13.  I did the same on TABLE 5 to look at our GED outcomes.   Column A lists the functioning levels, Column B shows you the percentage we need to meet as a state, Column C shows you your current outcomes on NRS TABLE 4 and 5 and Column D tells you how far you have to go to meet the target in the next six weeks.  If you have “SUPER” In Column D, you have met the target for that particular functioning level.

I’ll be looking at data in hopes that I can help you catch things that are missing so that we can be sure we meet our statewide targets.  Good luck with lots of post testing.  


MT TABE Training Documents

MT ESOL Conference 2001 Review

GED Initiative Update

Dear ABLE Directors and GED Administrators,

Many of you attended the GED Initiative meetings in December to share in the cross agency discussion on reaching out to youth who have left school and do not have a GED. The meeting helped shape the Future ForGED Initiative. This month is a soft launch, time to get the materials you selected out to the field. Attached is the cover letter that will accompany the package you will receive. Note the Web page at the top of the letter. ( http://www.montanagednow.mt.gov/ ) It is live and linked to valuable information.  This fall a GED promotion will be announced on this page, and Future ForGED is already on Face Book!

Today I will be joining colleagues from the Department of Labor, Job Corps, and Youth Corrections to package the material that has been purchased to promote the GED. Materials are also being sent to numerous other agencies, businesses, and libraries. The Youth Council hopes to see these materials being readily distributed all across the state to encourage and support future GED test takers.

You will be receiving the following: pencils, stickers, bookmarks, post cards, and brochures to distribute. The brochures have a place on the back for you to put contact information.  Once all of these materials are distributed, there will be a link for you  to print additional materials.

It is an important time to promote the GED very aggressively. GEDTS and Pearson Vue are committed to the new test by 2014, and they are promising increased rigor and a much more expensive test. It is very important that GED candidates understand that the new test is coming, and test scores will not be carried over to the new test.

Please join the Youth Council in sharing the materials you will be receiving along with the message that the time to take the GED is now!

Thank you for all that you do to transition adults to productive lives.




Post Testing

Click here for information about Post Testing report.


New Language on Pre/Post Test

Click here to access MABLE change.

GED Update

Click here http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Press_Releases2&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=40286  to access the complete article about the new GED venture.

ACE and Pearson Collaborate to Transform GED Test, Aligned with Common Core State Standards, Based on GED 21st Century Initiative

Enhanced GED Testing Program Will Validate Career- and College-Readiness

Washington, DC (March 15, 2011)—The American Council on Education (ACE) and Pearson today announced the creation of a ground-breaking new business that will drive the future direction, design, and delivery of the GED® testing program. Building on the goals of the GED 21st Century Initiative, the two partners will combine their collective expertise and resources to develop a new GED Test aligned with Common Core State Standards that will assure colleges, universities and prospective employers that adults who have passed the GED Tests are prepared to compete and succeed in a global economy ...

ESOL Conference

ESOL Conference

Who:  All ESL teachers invited


May 3:  Pre conference meeting 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Macaroni Grill

May 4:  9:00 am to 4:00 pm at Red Lion


Macaroni Grill and Red Lion Colonial Hotel

Helena, MT

Other Information:

Registration Deadline:  April 1  Contact Carol Flynn.

Sleeping Rooms are blocked at Red Lion under OPI Adult Education, 443-2100.

Sleeping rooms need to be guaranteed by April 3, 2011.

BEST+ and TABE Training

Best Plus Training

Who:  For new staff or a refresher


May 3, 2011

9:00 am to 3:00 pm


OPI 1227 Training Room

Helena, MT

Other Information:

Registration Deadline:  April 1  Contact Carol Flynn.

Sleeping Rooms are blocked at Red Lion Colonial under OPI Adult Education, 443-2100.
Sleeping rooms need to be guaranteed by April 3, 2011.

TABE Training

Who:  Required Training – one trainer from each program


May 5, 2011

9:00 am to 4:00 pm


Holiday Inn Downtown, Elkhorn B Conference Room

Helena, MT

Other Information:

A block of ten sleeping rooms are at the Red Lion, guarantee by April 3, 2011.
A block of ten sleeping rooms at Holiday Inn Downtown, 443-2200 guarantee by April 14, 2011.

Student Profile Form

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/data/Student_Profile_Form_March_2011.doc to access updated form for March 2011.


Good Afternoon:

Attached please find the most current Student Profile form. The latest corrections are:

  • Word processing corrected a few typos that slipped by.

  • You can now check a yes or no box if a student has or does not have a signed social security waiver in their file.

  • On the very last page, we added a yes and no box to the question: “Have you been enrolled in another ABE program in the past program year?” This should help those of you who forget to check if a student is already in the MABLE data base before you test them only to find out the student has current tests on file.

I have requested that this documented be put on the ABLE website. Since Janet is out this week, it will most likely be posted early next week.


National Career Awareness Project

Click here http://lincs.ed.gov/pd/NCA for more information.


    MUSWA Training

Good Afternoon,

Jan Clinard would like MUSWA Workshop registrations from ABLE staff no later than March 3rd.  ABLE instructors who register can be reimbursed; just let Carol know which workshop your staff will be attending. She will take care of your paper work.

Last year's ABLE instructors said this training had a positive impact on their writing instruction, a great learning experience!

The deadline was today, but Jan understands that we have been very busy lately.



GED Statistical Information

We have some GREAT news to share with all of you regarding the Annual Statistical Report!

The number of test takers for the state went up 9% from 2009. In 2009 there were 3,458 test takers and in 2010 we had 3,700.

The total number that took the test and passed also went up 9% from 2009. In 2009 2,150 students passed and in 2010 that number jumped to 2,371.

This is great news for the state of Montana and all GED students. Keep up the good work and let’s make 2011 an even more productive year!

Thank you all for making this happen.

Margaret & Debbie

Programming Priorities Clarification

Good Afternoon,

It has come to my attention that this e-mail may have caused some confusion. I would like to clarify that Carol and Linda's work with MABLE has not changed. They will continue to respond to all of your inquiries. They welcome your MABLE questions.

The change is the programming priorities. We will only send emergency programming issues to Mandy. We know you are very anxious to implement the new approved hours, and we want to make this available to students as soon as possible. If your inquiry will require programming, we will ask that you keep a log so the request is not forgotten.



PBF Formula Model and Summary

Dear Directors,

Attached is the PBF formula model (below) that we reviewed at our meeting last week. I have also attached the summary report (below); the summary report does explain how each section of the formula was determined.

This is the model; the dollar amount for the upcoming year will not be the numbers in the model.

Thanks to everyone for a very positive meeting last week. 


Pre/Post Test Hours Change

Good Morning,

Announced at the directors' meeting last week were the new pre-post test hours that have been approved for TABE testing.  I am asking our programmer to make this a number one priority, and the programming changes will be quite daunting. However, once programming is complete, we can implement the new approved hours.

It would be most helpful if you could keep a log of MABLE questions/requests that do not need to be addressed immediately until after the programming is completed, and please do not cc Mandy on e-mails.  Our goal is to be ready for the new rules to be implemented sometime in April; this can be accomplished if Mandy can focus primarily on programming for the new rules.

Please adhere to the 60 hour rules until further notice. This is great news!!! I have attached the new post test rules for you below:

New Language on Pre/Post Test

Section G – Post testing Administration ((PAGE 9)

Levels 1-4 (ABE)

The recommended number of instructional hours between a pre and post test for Levels 1-4 (ABE) is 50-60 hours of instruction, with a minimum of 40 hours, or after the completion of one continuous term of instruction.

Levels 5-6 (ASE Low and High

The recommended number of instructional hours between a pre and post test for Levels 5 and 6 is 30-59 hours of instruction.

Each student's term of instruction is unique. It begins at the date of enrollment and concludes one year from the date of enrollment.  At the end of one continuous term of instruction all TABE tests taken during the term will be expired.  However, if a student post tests within 30 days prior to the end of the continuous term of instruction, test scores may be reentered as pretests for the new instructional year. Students may post test within 30 days of the end of their continuous term of instruction, even if they have not completed the minimum number of hours of instruction.

MABLE Conference Call


3:00 PM TO 4:00 PM

Good Afternoon:

Please find attached an agenda for tomorrow’s conference call along with the parking lot questions that came out of the MABLE User’s Conference.

We’ll be discussing:
Mable User’s Update
Calendar of Upcoming Events
State of the State Update

I sent you the numbers to call in but just in case, I’ll give them to you again:

Helena folks are local so you call 444-7946 and give the password 4727.

Out of Helena folks call 1-888-556-4635 and give the password 4727.

Talk to you tomorrow.



MABLE Conference Final Plans

Click here for the agenda.



MABLE Conference Assignment

Good Morning,

The number one item on today's MTLINCS Newsletter is a very important reminder for you.

Last week in our directors' Shop Talk Renee did an excellent job explaining how the MABLE Users' Conference will assist you tying your submitted program improvement plan directly to MABLE for data quality checks. The link below will take you to all of the submitted plans. You may want to read plans from some of the other programs before the conference.

An agenda for the conference will be forthcoming, but the first item on the agenda is set. This will be sharing time. Each of you will have the opportunity to share your plan, successes and challenges to date.

We look forward to providing an excellent professional development opportunity.

Planning committee,

Norene, Renee, and Margaret

 1.   Montana ABLE Action Plans Posted

 Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/data/mt_able_action_plans.htm  to access Montana ABLE Action Plans.  Look at what other programs are doing!

 Margaret Bowles

Montana ABLE Action Plans Now Posted

Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/data/mt_able_action_plans.htm to review Montana ABLE Program Action Plans.

GED Online Update - Times

Good Morning:

I just wanted to give you heads up that Mandy has updated MABLE with the new times for the distance learning classes.

Merry Christmas everyone!! Enjoy the down time!


Learning to Achieve

Good Morning,

Attached you will find an information sheet (See below.) on an upcoming training for Learning to Achieve: Research-Based Training on Serving Adults with Learning Disabilities. 

 This training is offered in three locations  this summer, and Montana and Idaho were selected as the Western states to receive this training. We are able to send a team of 6-9 (or more) instructors, directors, or other support service personal. I would like to send representative staff from as many programs as possible, and it is important to get teams together as soon as possible.  The attached document describes the details of the training and expected follow-up activities. I would ask that you encourage someone from your program to participate in this training.

Below are some of the initial facts about the logistics (location and week of training will be finalized once we know who will be attending)

Location may be Spokane, Coeur D"alene, or Billings

All expenses will be paid by OVAE

Training can be the week of June 27th, July 11th, or July 25th.

Please contact me if you have further questions, and we will fill the slots on a first come- first serve basis. This is an incredible opportunity to enhance our efforts in working with this special population.

I look forward to filling the Montana slots, and then we will ask to include additional participants.

Thank you for your consideration.


Learning to Achieve Information

GED Online Update

Click here for update.

Career Pathway

Please note the article on last week's Career Pathway Technical Institute. (See below.) It is fortunate that Montana was selected to participate in this historic co-hosted training. It was the first time that the Department of Labor and OVAE have put together such an intense training. The Montana team has representatives from a variety of agencies, and we are determined to develop a strong pathway system. After our November Shop Talk, Margaret Girkins was asked to serve on the team. We will provide a detailed update during next week's Shop Talk.

Also, the new OVAE hires are putting together the Learning To Achieve Institute that I sent information on yesterday. They have hit the ground running.

Great things are happening, and I am thrilled that Montana is in the mix!


Posting from OVAE

OVAE and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) co-hosted the Career Pathways Technical Assistance Institute Nov. 30–Dec. 2, 2010, in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the institute was to provide technical assistance to grantees in the development of career pathway systems for low-skilled adults and dislocated workers. Nine states and two Indian and Native American entities received grants to convene the necessary partners, including local employers as well as representatives from the workforce, education and human services arena, to build effective and comprehensive career pathway systems. The grantees are: Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Gila River Indian Community and Tucson Indian Center in Arizona.

OVAE and ETA have drafted an organizing framework, Six Key Elements of Career Pathways Systems and an assessment tool, Career Pathways Readiness Assessment Tool for the initiative, both of which will be disseminated across the workforce and education systems through the participating agencies in the near future.


MABLE Noted at NRS


Please scroll down to the link to Great Data Systems, Great Data. The link is to the NRS Resource Guide to Data Systems.  They are featuring five states, Montana, Utah, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas.  It is good to see the hard work in the development of MABLE has been noticed. This paper validates that good data systems are ongoing work; looks like we will never be done!

Kudos to state staff (Linda, Carol, and Mandy), and all of you in the field; it is your continual input that is making our data system one of best!


Click here http://www.nrsweb.org/docs/DataSystemsResourceGuide.pdf  to access NRS Resource Guide to Datasystems.

GED for Future Initiative

Click here for more information.

PBF Taskforce Meeting Summary

MABLE Users Conference Update

Good Afternoon,

A lot of planning has been going on since our October meetings, and I am happy to share the latest information on upcoming trainings.

First, I would like to thank everyone for the hard work you are doing on your Planning for Success data-driven program improvement plans. The plans submitted to date are exemplary (Mary Ann and Larry will be impressed). For those of you who have not submitted, the due date is Monday, November 8th. As we discussed at the Data Quality meeting, you will get to spend some time during the January MABLE Users' Conference discussing your plans and gleaning ideas from other participants. I am pleased to inform you that Renee Bentham and Norene Peterson are putting together an incredible agenda for this meeting. Since they want this meeting to be a quality professional development experience, they will be getting a little more data from each of you to help them finalize the meeting agenda. Norene will be sending a survey to everyone before the end of November.

I can assure you this will be better than the October Data Quality Conference because these ladies are conference planners extraordinaire. Below is the important logistic information you need for the MABLE Users' Conference:

MABLE Users' Conference



Renee and Norene have assessed the training room available at the Lincoln Center, and due to limited computers, each program will be limited to three participants.

Lodging information will be forth coming.

Update on Annual Directors' Meeting

The annual directors' meeting will be in February, as it will require more time than will be available during the January conference. The facilitators from MPR & Associates who have worked with the Formula Funding task force are able to come to Montana in February. The task force and the MPR facilitators will be planning an in-depth presentation on the work of task force. At this point, we think the training will last a minimum of one full day. Dates for this will be announced when a contract with the facilitators is finalized.

I am looking forward to sharing everyone's great work!


Note From Kristen and Ruth

Dissemination Planning - November 22nd from 10-11:30am MT (Margaret, Ruth, Kristen, TF volunteers)

  • Review draft February agenda

  • Agree on February meeting outcomes

  • Agree on February meeting content

Call in information will be sent closer to the time of the call.




Good Afternoon,

Since our last meeting, I have been waiting to hear from Kristen and Ruth regarding their extended contract with Montana. They e-mailed yesterday to inform me that the contract should be finalized soon.

So they will be scheduling a conference call to discuss our February meeting very soon (before Thanksgiving). They will have a definite date very soon.
The good news is they will be able to present at our directors' meeting. I know this will help all of the directors who were not involved in the task force understand the level of expertise and guidance that was provided by MPR.

I will send a note to all the directors apprising them of the February meeting.

Have a wonderful weekend,



We have completed our PEP Talk Best Practices report which you can find at: http://www.ourfactsyourfuture.org/admin/uploadedPublications/4169_PEPTalkBP.pdf
It will also be posted to the http://smartaboutcollege.org/ website in the next week or so.  The PEP Talk team wants to thank everyone who provided their best practices to us. There are some innovative uses of PEP Talk and some great success stories. If you have something you’re doing with PEP Talk that you would like shared, let us know.
Just a reminder, we still have plenty of brochures and intake cards left. Our supply of Blueprints and skills cards is getting low. Contact me if you need any of these supplies.

Annette Miller, Information Resources Supervisor
Research & Analysis Bureau
PO Box 1728
Helena MT 59624www.ourfactsyourfuture.org406-444-2741

MABLE Update

Good Morning,

We continue to receive excellent questions from the field regarding MABLE, and we would like to share responses we have sent to individuals since the Data Quality Conference last month. This document may help you finalize your Data Quality Plan, as well as provide background information for the MABLE User's Conference in January. In this document you will find explanations on
student hours,
the primary area of instruction,
gains for the ASE high, and
a brief history of the instructional year.

The Frequently Asked Questions in MABLE is not available, because many of the responses were outdated after recent required changes to our assessment policy. The information in this document will be included in a soon to be released Frequently Asked Questions. In the meantime, keep sending in your questions.


Margaret, Linda, Carol


NRS Proposed Changes

Below is the link to the proposed changes in the NRS, each state is being allowed one response in a survey that is being sent to each state director.  After reading the proposed papers, please send your comments directly to me, concerns or things you like. Respond no later than Monday, October 11th ... If you don't have comments, that's fine but for those of you who may be concerned about how you are going to collect this information or other concerns, let me know.

Thanks, everyone, I am glad we have an opportunity to respond.

See you all this week,


All Attendees of the NRS Congress of Adult Education State Directors:

As indicated in the e-mail from Assistant Secretary Brenda Dan-Messier, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) has revised the six issue papers on proposed NRS changes presented at the NRS Congress. OVAE is now offering you one more opportunity to provide additional comments on their potential impact on your state.

We have put the revised papers on NRSWeb at the following location:


On this web page you will also find two additional papers on a topic that was not discussed at the Congress, two proposed sets of measures on students’ prior education and teacher qualifications.

After the 2010 NRS Congress, OVAE engaged in discussions about collecting data on teacher credentials and student educational attainment.  The new papers include tables that are proposed as required data to be reported annually to the NRS.  Please read the introductory paragraphs to the proposed new NRS tables and provide OVAE with your comments to those as well. 

After reviewing the papers, OVAE urges you to share the papers and discuss the changes with your state and local program staff. 


Data Quality 2010 Agenda




April May
February March


October November
August September





STARS:  Schedule Tracking Attendance Reporting System

Shop Talk for May

TABE Workshop


MUSWA Survey Results

Performance Based Funding Meeting



 Monday, May 24th, 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Tuesday, May 25th, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm


Shop Talk Minutes Posted


GED Annual Conference and Data Quality Institute


GED Annual Conference

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Red Lion Colonial Hotel, Helena, MT 

Call and reserve a sleeping room at the Red Lion, 443-2100.  Sleeping rooms need to be guaranteed by September 4, 2010.  Closer to the actual date, we’ll get an agenda out to you.  For now, please mark your calendars!!

Please note:  There will not be a GED/ABLE combined meeting this year!

I am looking forward to meeting with you.





Wednesday and Thursday, October 6-7, 2010

Red Lion Colonial Hotel, Helena, MT

Call and reserve a sleeping room at the Red Lion, 443-2100.  Sleeping rooms need to be guaranteed by September 4, 2010.  Closer to the actual date, we’ll get an agenda out to you.  For now, please mark your calendars!!

Please note:  There will not be a GED/ABLE combined meeting this year!


MT ABLE Assessment Standards and Guidelines

Click here for Assessment Standards and Guidelines

Good Morning,

As explained at the directors' meeting last month, some of the language regarding instructional year in our Assessment Standards and Guidelines was not approved. The modification to policy does require programming changes, and the state MABLE team has spent considerable time outlining the programming specifications.

I have attached the proposed specifications to this e-mail, as well as the approved assessment policy. Please note in the specifications we have referenced the Assessment Policy and NRS Guidelines. Both documents were carefully reviewed in building the guideline for programming changes, we are hopefully this alignment will ensure ongoing policy approval.

We would like you to read the guideline, and please let us know if you see potential problems or have questions. In order to keep everyone involved in the discussion, please Reply to All when e-mailing.

Due to time constraints, we would like all feedback by Wednesday, April 7, 2010. The Race and Ethnicity programming is being worked on simultaneously. Cindie will be scurrying to meet the July 1st deadline.

Thank you for your time; we look forward to hearing from you.


Margaret, Linda, Cindie, and Carol



ESOL Conference

Second Annual ESOL Conference:  May 20 – 21, 2010, Red Lion Colonial Hotel.  This training will go 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on May 20 and 8:00 am to  12  noon on May 21.  We encourage all ESL teachers and Program Directors to attend.  Also, we encourage ABLE instructors to attend, as this conference is focused on strategies that can help ESL  and ESL students who are transitioning to TABE. 

Survey Results

Click here to view results of the Montana OPI ABLE Survey 2010.



TABE Training/Assessment Policy:  May 12, 2010, Red Lion Colonial Hotel.  Sleeping rooms are blocked for those who may need a room.  Guarantee sleeping rooms by April 11, 2010 by calling 443-2100.  An individual from CTB McGraw Hill will conduct this training.  Anyone who is the TABE Test Trainer at your site must attend this yearly training along with anyone in your program who has never been TABE trained and who wants to be TABE trained. Each program should have a train-the-trainer.  I anticipate the training will go from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Yvonne Hauwiller’s Best Plus Training:  May 19, 2010, Helena College of TechnologyAnyone in your program that has never been Best Plus Trained or who needs a brush up training should attend.    We encourage all TEST PLUS examiners to participate in order to update their skills. This training will go from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.  For those that want to attend the ESOL Conference the following day, sleeping rooms have been blocked at Red Lion Colonial Hotel.
Second Annual ESOL Conference:  May 20 – 21, 2010, Red Lion Colonial Hotel.  This training will go 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on May 20 and 8:00 am to  12  noon on May 21.  We encourage all ESL teachers and Program Directors to attend.  Also, we encourage ABLE instructors to attend, as this conference is focused on strategies that can help ESL  and ESL students who are transitioning to TABE.  Sleeping rooms have been blocked at Red Lion for the nights of May 19 and 20 and need to be guaranteed by April 19, 2010.
Carol Flynn

Directors' Meeting pdf

Grant Applications


Distance Learning and Pep Talk Grants

Good Afternoon,

WIA incentive grant dollars will soon be available for two project grants.  Awards will be available March 1, 2010, and the allocation must be expended by June 30, 2010.

Project One: Building infrastructure for GED Online.

Project Two:  Building infrastructure for implementing PEP Talk and supporting student transitions to employment or postsecondary.

At the directors’ meeting, time will be scheduled for discussing how programs can use this one time only money to strengthen GED Online and support student transitions using PEP Talk.

I encourage you to consider applying for both projects.



Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/Retooling_GEDmath.ppt  (right click and save) to check out a PowerPoint created by by Tom Mecham, the GED Chief Examiner for Massachusettes, entitled Retooling the GED Math Classroom for College Success.


Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/COABE_teneasy_steps.ppt (right click and save) to check out a PowerPoint created by the Kentucky Jefferson Publish Schools and Adult and Continuing Education for 2009 COABE:  Creating a Successful Transitions/Concurrent Enrollment Program in Ten Easy Steps

Student Highlights

Click here to check out the Student Highlight page to access article on the Billings Gazette related to New Beginnings.



Wow, take a look at this Web page. We are one of the first states up on this site. What a celebration of our work with CAELA. I truly believe we are building a powerful professional development model.

Stay tuned, conference planning for this year is now underway. Dates to be announced soon. In the meantime, stay connected with CAELA on LINCS.

Hooray for Montana. 


Conference Calls

Two Important Dates!!
Thursday, January 21, 2010 - Connect Pro meeting on MABLE Changes, 9:00 am to 9:30 am
Friday, January 22, 2010 - ABLE Shop Talk - 11:00 am to 12 Noon
(we had a conflict here on January 19 so needed to reschedule this call)
Good Morning:
Please put these two important dates on your calendar.
CONNECT PRO:  We will be doing our second Connect Pro meeting on the recent changes to MABLE on January 21 from 9:00 am to 9:30 am.  Once Linda has a link for us, I'll pass that on to you.  For now, please just mark your calendars.
JANUARY SHOP TALK:  We had to reschedule our January Shop Talk to Friday, January 22 because of conflicts here. For those of you who do not normally work on Friday, we hope you will call in from home.  We have a lot to visit with you about and we would appreciate your participation.  Please let me know who from your program will be participating.  We'll get an agenda to you prior to the call. 


WIA Community Conversations

The Obama Administration is preparing for WIA reauthorization and has asked the National Institute for Literacy’s Discussion Lists to engage in a candid and constructive discourse about what the field’s successes and needs are in providing adult education programs and services.


Click here http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/wia_conversation.htm for specific information on how to participate! 



Click here http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PW88B27 to access a brief, nine-question online survey regarding MTLINCS services.  The survey will remain open until Saturday, January 16


PEP Talk Integration

I am sending this message as a follow-up to the e-mail that Annette Miller sent to all PEP Talk participants last week, as I am excited about the professional development you will receive. The facilitator will assist each community with PEP Talk integration and the agency collaboration that will be necessary to fully implement PEP Talks and readily transition our students to meaningful careers.

Currently, we are in the process of hiring the facilitator and planning the on-site meetings. I will send further updates after the first of the year. You can look forward to a meeting in your community very soon.



Pep Talk Integration:  Next Steps


PEP Talk Information

Needing to access the videos and materials from the PEP Talk Training?  Click on the information below.


MABLE Help Desk Now Available

... You can access the Q & A form at the top of your MABLE site summary page. The form is under the HELP tab in Useful Forms and General Information. Click the yellow bar at the bottom of the page to submit your question. I encourage you to check the MABLE FAQ frequently to review the questions and answers. There are two post test questions in the Q & A already ...

Margaret Bowles

PEP Talk Training

In just a few weeks, each ABLE program will have the opportunity to participate in a PEP talk training. Immediately after the training, your students will be able to begin the PEP talk process.
Who should attend the PEP talk training?
  • Every program director should plan on attending.
  • Staff members who will be directly involved in helping students with the PEP talk process. This would include:
                -Counselors, or
                -The lead teacher who will be the site administrator for this process. Every local program must have one person designated as the site administrator who                    will be in charge of passwords and getting students started in the process.
                -Other staff who will be also designated as the contact for students when they have questions or would like to discuss any thing they have learned during                  the PEP talk modules.
Since this is a collaborative effort between the Department of Labor and the Commissioner of Higher Education, we are making every effort to track participation and set up appropriate working groups at each training. Therefore, we would like all participants to register for the site that has been assigned to their program at the following link: 
. https://app.mt.gov/cgi-bin/confreg/register/index.cgi  
Programs that have to travel to a designated site will be reimbursed for one car per program. Lunch will be provided and with regional meetings no lodging will be necessary.
This is really going to be a wonderful opportunity for our students.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Margaret Bowles
Adult Literacy and Basic Education Specialist
Office of Public Instruction
Box 202501
Helena MT 59620-2501
(406) 444-4443


Montana ABLE Conference 2009

Handbook for MABLE

Click here for the MABLE Handbook.

Message from Margaret Bowles

MABLE programming updates are nearly  complete! Extensive testing will be going on for the next two weeks, so you can look forward to the new version of MABLE after the fall conference.  Going live is scheduled for September 14th. MABLE will be down on September 14-15, 2009 for moving the updates into the  program.
I am attaching the draft document, ABLE Student Information System Guidelines that has been created simultaneously with the program development. It became very clear over the past several months  that a document explaining how MABLE is working behind the scenes is very important. The goal of the document is to reduce MABLE questions and give you more time to focus on student instruction. You will no longer have to guess what MABLE is doing. In the document you will notice a lot of repetition. This was done purposefully, as you may just want to read only one or two sections of the document; therefore, some specific information will be repeated throughout the document.
It is important to understand that the OPI team has untaken this programming project based on the assessment policy changes required by the U.S. Department of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE). Although mandated to make changes, our OPI team has worked diligently to do what is best for your programs and the students. We have also taken the opportunity to clean up some areas that were causing confusion. 
MABLE is now much more student focused, we have worked to tie MABLE and students more closely together to better manage student hours and ensure all educational gains are captured. Due to the wide discrepancies in program calendars, all students will now have their own instructional year/continuous term of instruction. By individualizing the instructional year for each student, you will be given increased flexibility in managing student progress. Another significant change for our students is their ability to select a primary area of instruction (PAI) when they have a need to focus on one area of instruction.
In order to make the rule for self-selection of PAI retroactive to July 1, 2009, we will need to manually adjust some student records.  We will explain the process for requesting changes at the conference, as we will now be formally tracking all requests for technical assistance.
We have blocked time at the fall conference to address all of the questions you may have after reading the ABLE Standardized Testing Guidelines and Policy. In order for this time to be well spent, we would ask that you send all questions to Linda Gardner at ligardner@mt.gov. no later than September 11, 2009. This will give Linda time to prepare a more complete answer. She will also walk through the program, pointing out where you will see some changes and explaining the reasoning behind them.
This has been a daunting project to complete in such a short time. Our ABLE program is fortunate to have such a capable and dedicated staff. Kudos to Carol Flynn, Linda Gardner, and Cindie Tenneson.
Margaret Bowles
Adult Literacy and Basic Education Specialist
Office of Public Instruction
Box 202501
Helena MT 59620-2501
(406) 444-4443



ABLE Conference 09


Click here for more information.


Good Morning,
I would like to remind you that the cut off date for rooms for our fall conference, Building the Power, is August 14th. Once again, I encourage you to bring a team to the  conference on September 15th and 16th. Many cutting-edge program improvement strategies will be covered that will positively impact your instructional delivery for the year. Also, all adult educators will benefit from Art Ellison's training on how to build statewide support for ABLE.
As last year, The GED Annual meeting will be held the day after the ABLE conference. We welcome ABLE representation at this meeting; ABLE representation should include the ABLE program director and one staff representative. This will guarantee that the GED Chief Examiners and Examiners have a one ABLE staff and a program director from their area to discuss GED concerns.
Agendas will be sent out in August.
Please contact Carol Flynn after making reservations to let us know who will be on your team for the ABLE Conference and the GED annual meeting.
Have a wonderful weekend,




August September
October November
December January
February March
April May
June July



August September
October November
December January


April May


June July
  • Conference Call Summary for 7/14/09




Click here to access the following July 09 information provided in the 7/14/09 Conference Call.


Click here to see follow-up of ESL Conference by Margaret Bowles.

Click here to check out ESOL Conference Professional Development Tasks.


Montana ABLE Funding Formula

Research #15: Promoting Success of Multilevel ESL Classes

Budget Memo

Shop Talk 5-19

Research Item #14:  Working with English Language Learners


Research Item #13:  Using Authentic Materials Continuation

Research Item #12:  Authentic Materials

Conference Call Summary from 4/1/09


Research Item #10:  Reading and the College Student

Math:  Are fractions outdated?

Economic Stimulus Job Bill Signed into Law

Official E-Mail from the Montana Office of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, Superintendent

Subject::  Economic Stimulus/Jobs Bill Signed Into Law

Today, February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in Denver, Colorado.  This is the Economic Stimulus or Jobs Bill that has been making its way through Congress the last few weeks.  The Conference Committee Agreement that comprises the final bill contains some changes from the House and Senate versions that we posted details on in the past.  On our OPI Web site home page, you can visit the latest information we have under the blue box on the right side of the page labeled "Economic Stimulus Bill News".  The chart posted there under Related Documents gives the latest update on expected state by state amounts under the various provisions in the final bill, and we will soon have district by district estimates for Title I Part A and IDEA Part B.  These are prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and are not final but give a ballpark figure of what districts can expect.

By clicking on either the link to Senate Information or House Information, you can find the full text of the Conference Agreement.  Select Division A and scroll or pull down to page 168 for the Department of Education language and to page 425 for the State Fiscal Fund Stabilization language.

We previously posted estimates for School Modernization, Renovation, and Repair (called "Construction" on a previous estimates chart).  That specific stream of funding was eliminated from the bill as a separate funding component.  However, funds under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for Education (81.8 percent of the total after set asides at the federal level) can be used for school modernization, repair, and renovation, including "green" projects, but not for new construction.  These funds must be distributed to districts on the existing state primary formulae (plural) for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education to address shortfalls in state funding.  The funds may also be used by districts for any activity authorized under the ESEA, IDEA, Adult and Family Literacy, or Carl Perkins Acts.

We will keep you informed as more details become known.   In the meantime, please visit our Web page on the Economic Stimulus News for new information that will be posted there as we receive updates and further guidance.

Distance Learning Math Videos

Content Standards Team Video

Click here for a video of the CS team at work!


Conference Calls Set

Leadership Academy Resources

More Distance Learning Tools Posted 2/09

Several more items from the Distance Learning Protocol Guide have now been posted as individual documents on MTLINCS.  Click below on the categories.


Response #1 to Research #8

Thanks Renee and  Norene for the great resources posted!
RE: MI question: We use a lot of graphic organizers (from you) to help scaffold information for learners and encourage use of highlighters, post-it notes, small group, and summarization to help students retain information. However,  overall, I feel that  I am not tapping into MI strategies as much as I would like. I end up using packets more than I should , mostly because I feel I don't have the time to really individualize instruction beyond setting up a learning plan and offering canned curriculum. I did do a unit for a small part of my Masters on autobiographical writing  where all language instruction was integrated into the context of their writing. They loved it, and great things happened in the room through the small group sharing and writers workshop. I also taught four students how to use power points and two ended up teaching several other students how to import pictures and sound to create these great autobiographical presentations. I would like to head in that direction more, but time and staffing are real life constraints that I  experience as obstacles to innovation at this time.

Ellen Guettler, Bozeman

Research Item #8:  2/1/09

Adult Multiple Intelligences

Participants of the Leadership Academy discussed several research items the last time they met.  They will soon be surveying your interests in research studies.  Here's just a snippet from one such research study:    

"It's not how smart you are, but how you are smart."

Dr. Howard Gardner

The February 2001 Adult Multiple Intelligences Study sponsored by NCSALL was the first systematic application of multiple intelligences (MT) theory to adult literacy education.  The Adult Multiple Intelligences Study says:

Students whose instructors utilized the Multiple Intelligences theory took more control over their learning, were more engaged in classroom activities that used authentic materials, and, in some cases, attended class more regularly.

MI reflection enhanced students' perceptions of their abilities.

Program Administrators' Sourcebook, A Resource on NCSALL's Research for Adult Education Program Administrators, NCSALL, December 2005, p.21. http://www.ncsall.net/?id=1039

Multiple Intelligences and Adult Literacy, http://store.tcpress.com/0807743461.shtml


    • Do you consider the variety of ways students learn when you are working with them?  If so, what ideas do you have that you can share with other Montana ABLE instructors?
    • Put the MI in context to Distance Learning.  Do you think Distance Learning will bring a different dimension to your students' learning?  Do you think they will feel more in control of their learning? 

Click here to mail a response to MTLINCS.

Summary of 1/28/09 Directors' Meeting



Distance Learning Tools

More tools have been posted on MTLINCS!  Check them out!


Response #4 to Research #7

Looking back over our records, our lowest level reader in GED online had a GE of 4.7.  She struggled in Skills Tutor reading but was unable to come to class due to living 90 miles away; she ended up dropping out and going back to high school.  Most of our online students were 8.0 GE or higher in reading.

Melinda Lynnes
Miles Community College
Center for Academic Success

Response #3 to Research #7

In response the need for higher level reading scores for on-line learners.  It is important to remember that GED on-line is specifically designed for those students with a reading level of at least 8th grade.  Our experience showed that 8th grade was too low.  My suggestion would be that any student scoring below ASE on the TABE would not make a good candidate for GED on-line.  SkillsTutor is geared toward a much lower reading level than GED on-line and is a good alternative.  
It is important to remember that on-line learners must possess a high level of self motivation.  Many, but certainly not all, low level readers are easily frustrated and they quickly loose their drive to complete on-line assignments.  What’s best for the learner needs to always be in the fore front of our thoughts, on-line is not for everyone.

Jerry Guay

Response #2 to Research #7

I would be curious to know from those who implemented the Montana Distance Learning Pilot Project if or how they used it for the low-level reader.  We have been using SkillsTutor in our program for approximately three years.  However, we do have some of the lower-level modules that aren't available in the GED Online program.  Mike Rea has suggested below, "Those readers, however, would probably benefit more from the direct instruction at an adult education center."   

So my question is two-fold:

  1. Did any of you encounter students who wanted to work on the GED Online but were unable to do so because of insufficient reading skills?

  2. Did any of you implement suggested reading levels as was done in North Carolina?

Thanks for your input! 

Norene Peterson, Billings


Response #1 to Research #7

While the consideration of reading level is important, wouldn’t it make the need for SkillsTutor unnecessary to use with GED Online since SkillsTutor is geared towards students with lower reading levels?  That means those students with reading difficulties would have little chance to qualify for GED Online.  Those readers, however, would probably benefit more from the direct instruction at an adult education center, thus supporting the North Carolina study.  At the very least, SkillsTutor could possibly be used as part of the instruction at an adult education center; otherwise, it wouldn’t seem to serve a purpose with GED Online. 

Mike Rea, Lewistown

Research Item #7:  Distance Learning and Literacy

Is distance learning for everyone?

The Reach Higher, America report states the following:

With 73 percent of adults already online in 2006, including those at lower levels of literacy, online learning can be a powerful way to assist adult learners. Touch screens and other userfriendly technologies can provide lower-skilled adults—even those with little or no computer experience—with access to electronic instruction. Bill Gates predicts that voice-activated computers will be the next revolution in technology. That technology may hold promise for lowskilled adults, including nonreaders. 

Reach Higher, America:  Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, Report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, June 2008. National Commission on Adult Literacy, http://www.nationalcommissiononadultliteracy.org/, p.25. 


Should you consider reading level of the online learner?  Participants in the GED online program at Vance Granville Community College in North Carolina must demonstrate a 9th grade level or higher in order to be enrolled in online courses.

For all new online students, Reading scores must be at 9th grade level or higher. For all returning "active" online students with a lower than acceptable score to continue in their program, they will be given two months to raise their Reading score to the 9th grade level. Failure to reach a 9th grade Reading level will result in that students being removed from the online program; however, they will be given the opportunity to continue their education program in a literacy lab (classroom) setting until a 9th grade reading level is achieved.   http://www.vgcc.edu/Literacy-Online/literacy-expectation.cfm

Students desiring enrollment in one of our Literacy Online programs but not reading at a 9th grade level can expect to be assigned lessons designed to improve reading skills. The objective is to first raise those reading skills to a 9th grade or better level. A similar program will also be available to provide improvement in basic math skills.


o    Should you consider a student's reading level in relationship to online learning?

Click here to mail a response to MTLINCS.


SkillsTutor Scope and Sequence

The scope and sequence is located in the Montana workroom.  Click the FAQ button and it is located in the Quick Reference folder.  The file was just scanned into the system and the font is a little weird - but it will give the information you need.  You can save the document to your computer by right clicking on the file and choosing "Save."

Mary Grott
GED Online

MABLE and Distance Learning

I just wanted to give you heads up that programming set up the Distance Learning classes for me in MABLE.  I've gone into each of the new Distance Learning Sites and set you up so that you should now be able to see GED Connections, GED On- Line with all of the lessons and Skills Tutor.
Pick a student and click on their summary page.  Go to add attendance and pick today's date.  You should see the three Distance Learning classes you need in the drop down of classes for your site.  If you choose GED On-Line you will also see all the lessons you need.  I see everything you should have so please check to make sure this  works for you.
I've also copied in the data entry folks not in my DL distribution list so that they realize the new classes have been added as well.
Let me know if you have any problems.  Have a great weekend.


Important Message from OPI

There is a problem with Skills Tutor.  I had an email from Melinda today saying she wanted to check her students work in  Skills Tutor and went to check a class and there are no classes to check.  I sent off a quick email to Mary Grott and she contacted Skills Tutor.
Any teacher with a Montana login can change a password and manipulate classes.  We are guessing that someone was in practicing with Skills Tutor and did something by accident.  The bad news is any student data that was in the class is also gone.
Given this, PILOT SITES PLEASE EMAIL A LIST OF STUDENTS THAT ARE CURRENTLY USING SKILLS TUTOR TO JERRI AT crowdercollege@yahoo.com.  She will add them back to the class!
We’ll keep you posted!!



Distance Learning January Meeting

Quotes from January Distance Learning Training

  • It doesn't work for everybody.  Hardin

  • If you (the employer) show that you care about the employees, it keeps them from making a lateral move to another business.  Havre

  • I don't want to become a faceless avatar.  Kalispell

  • It may be a good idea to go to the smaller communities and talk about what adult ed money they have and what they can contribute.  Missoula

  • Distance learning can be time intensive.  Miles City

  • Distance learning can get students into the door that have never been there.  The goal is to hook them!  OPI

  • Marketing should be separate from partner agencies.  Roundup

  • If we provide incentives for students to get their GEDs, then they become more literate and better employees.  Salish Kootenai

Resources from DL Meeting


Response #1 to Research #6

We are currently using GED online with two students.  Both have small children, so it allows them to stay home with their children and work at their own convenience.  One also works outside the home during the day so she can work on the GED courses in the evening.  We are currently in the process of setting up the online program for some students who live out of town so that studying for the GED is more convenient for them.


The main challenge is that many of our students do not have computers, or if they do, they do not have Internet access.  This keeps the student from even participating in the online program.   Another challenge is that students do not have the immediate assistance from an instructor when they have difficulty with the assignments.  The last challenge is that it does not provide the face-to-face instruction that students often need in order to be successful in adult ed.  Sometimes students don’t make it in for the weekly visits so keeping track of student success is difficult.  

Mike Rea, Lewistown

Research Item #6:  Distance Learning 

Beginning in January 2009, several Montana ABLE programs will be added to OPI's Distance Learning Project as a way to provide another educational delivery method for students. 

The Reach Higher, America report states the following:

Technology should be used in all its forms to make learning a continuous process of inquiry and improvement that keeps pace with the speed of change in business and society. It can be used to create new models for teaching and learning, provide greater access and knowledge resources to adult students in real time, help working adults with childcare and transportation issues improve their education, provide training to instructors, improve program management and data collection, allow students to work and learn in virtual teams with video conferencing and collaboration software, and much more. It can put the highest quality teachers in the world at everyone’s doorstep.

Reach Higher, America:  Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, Report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, June 2008. National Commission on Adult Literacy, http://www.nationalcommissiononadultliteracy.org/, p.24.


o    How is your program using technology to enhance students' learning? 

o    What challenges do you see with distance learning?

Click here to mail a response to MTLINCS.



Content Standards



Good Morning,
I know the holidays are rapidly approaching and you are thinking, what will I ever do with my free time. Well, I have a deal for you:   http://online.onetcenter.org/skills. This is a Department of Labor site that you may want to refer to when you start filling in the work place skills dots. Also, http://ourfactsyourfuture.org has a link to
"What Skills are most Profitable for the Montana Economy?"
by Barbara Wagner
"Who is paid more, a worker with a high level of science skills, or one with problem-solving skills? This article determines which skills are the most profitable in Montana."
Check out the Economy at a Glance publication or
Listen to the EAG Podcast
The article talks about onetcenter, and good information on workplace competencies. When I saw these sites, I instantly thought of the standards.
I do want you to enjoy the holidays, so perhaps you can bookmark these sites and look at them after Christmas.
Merry Christmas to an exceptional team of professionals,


Meeting Date Rescheduled

Good Morning:
Content Standards are meeting at Red Lion all day January 6 and half day January 7. Sleeping rooms are set aside at Red Lion for January 5 and then rooms are set aside for January 6 for those Content Standards folks who will participate in the Distance Learning Training.
On January 22 I have the 1201 Conference Room here at OPI reserved  from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm for those who choose to meet.  Sleeping rooms are blocked for January 21 at Red Lion.  (Given folks wanted to meet January 6-7 in conjunction with the Distance Learning to save a trip to Helena, I'm not sure the Standards team will want to meet January 22 but I didn't want to cancel anything at this point.)  Stay tuned!
On February 19, the Content Standards will meet in the OPI 1201 Conference Room from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and sleeping rooms are reserved at Red Lion for the evening of February 18.

        Carol Flynn

Distance Learning

Agenda for Training on 1/7 & 1/8

Click here for the agenda.

Preparing for Training

Good Afternoon,
I am sure that even with the busy holiday days, you have had time to figure out that the distance learning training will occur early in January. Not a minute to rest in the New Year!
The new semester will be a perfect time to begin your distance delivery, yet I am sure you have dozens of questions in your mind regarding implementation of distance learning. The planned training on January 7th and 8th should address all of your concerns. You can look forward to learning about the online process, student orientation, teacher resources, enrolling and engaging online students, 2007-08 student data profiles, and much more. Prior to attending the training, it is important that you read the Distance Learning Policy that was included in the Protocol Guide, or go to http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/DL/dlpolicy.pdf on the LINCS Website.
Beyond reading the Distance Learning Policy, there is work that you should be doing in the next few weeks to prepare for distance learning. Pursuant to each of your applications, work force partners and agencies have been identified to contact with distance learning information, so it is time to begin to prepare for you initial site visits. The work that can be done prior to the training includes:
  • Fill out potential employer/partner agency contact sheet (page 51/54 of Protocol Guide) to prepare for your on site time.
  • Prepare newspaper article to announce distance delivery (sample on page 51 of Protocol Guide).
  • Telephone potential partners to schedule a January meeting (page 53 of the Protocol Guide).
  • Create marketing packets for your onsite visits (page 55-58 of the Protocol Guide).
The Montana Distance Learning model is more than a curriculum, it is a process. It is imperative that directors and distance delivery instructors attend the training in order for your program to become enrolled in GEDOnline and experience success with distance learning. Each of you can look forward to lively conversation as ideas and future plans are shared during your time in Helena.
It was exciting to see the commitment and vision that was apparent on each application. The application was the first step in planning for an effective instructional model. You can look forward to building on your model next month.
Have a blessed holiday with visions of distance learners dancing in your heads!

Margaret Bowles, OPI

Leadership Academy

Integrating Research Agenda

Click here for the January 29 Agenda.

How to Access Interim Activities

Look on the orange card stock “Points of Contact” handout that we got at the Leadership Academy.   Directly under the chart of contacts, there is something called “Technology Tips” (with a photo of a computer screen besides it).  It has the address for the library:

1.       Open http://leadershipliteracy.net/. 

2.       Click on the link that is circled in red on the picture of the front page.

3.       Access LEA Participant Library

4.       Scroll down to 08-09 Training Materials Year 1

5.       Choose Self Assessment Interim Activity

6.       The form can then be saved as a Word document, filled out and saved on your computer.

7.       Finally, go back to LEA software, chose your team and upload!

Good luck.  Call me if these directions aren’t clear (823-6356)


ESL Resource - 12/7/08

A very interesting article:  "The Effect of Music on Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition"



Katya Irish, Great Falls

Research #5:  Low Parent Education - 12/2/08

Response #1 to Research #5

I wouldn’t say that we have an “influx” of people, but the students we have had lately seem to lack the skills necessary to earn a decent wage. 

Mike Rea, Lewistown

Research #5:  Low Parent Education

RISK 2: Low Parent Education Deters Children's Learning

Today, one in four U.S. working families is low-income, and one in five American children lives in poverty.  And in many of those households, the parents or caregivers are employed, but they lack the education and skills necessary to earn family-sustaining wages.

Reach Higher, America:  Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, Report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, June 2008. National Commission on Adult Literacy, www.nationalcommissiononadultliteracy.org, p. 5


With the economic problems that our country is experiencing, is your program encountering an influx of individuals who, as the report above states, are lacking "the education and skills necessary to earn family-sustaining wages"?



Meetings Announced (See Calendar.)

Formula Funding Meeting

Our next Funding Formula Meeting will be on December 11, 2008 in the OPI 1201 Conference Room (same place as the last meeting).  We'll start at 8:00 am. 
I reserved a block of sleeping rooms at state rate at Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive for the evening of December 10, 2008. PLEASE CALL AND RESERVE A SLEEPING ROOM AND GUARANTEE IT WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD PRIOR  TO  December 1, 2008. The number to call is 443-2100.  The block of rooms are under OPI Funding Formula.
I'll reimburse your lodging at state rate, meals not provided at state rate and mileage.`

Carol Flynn

Distance Learning Meeting

Welcome to Distance Learning!  I have reserved a conference room at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive, in Helena on January 7 from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm to discuss and plan Distance Learning.  This portion of the meeting will frame your distance learning for the program year.
I have reserved 30 sleeping rooms at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel for the evening of January 7.  YOU NEED TO CALL SOON AND NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 12 to reserve a room in the block and guarantee it with your own credit card!  The number to call is 443-2100 and ask for the OPI/Distance Learning block of rooms.
Mary Grott from GED On Line will conduct our training on January 8 beginning at 8:00 am.  We have computer labs set aside at the Helena College of Technology,  1115 N. Roberts Street.  Leave the Red Lion Colonial Hotel and travel west to the stop light at 11th Avenue and Fee Street.  Stay in the left hand lane driving north past the Albertsons Grocery Store to the next light on the corner of Fee Street and Prospect.  Turn left off Fee Street on to Prospect Avenue.  Work you way to the right hand lane and continue on Prospect Avenue to the stop light on Roberts Street.  American Federal Bank is on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Roberts Street.  Turn right on to Roberts Street and go down the street three blocks.  The College of Technology will be on the right hand side of the street.
We will reimburse lodging at state rate, meals not provided at state rate and one vehicle per site.
We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Carol Flynn

Content Standards Writing Meeting

We have set up two Content Standards Writing Team Meetings.  One in January and one in February.  Margaret will contact each content area to confirm who is coming in January.
We will meet on January 22, 2009 in the OPI 1201 Conference Room from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  I have reserved a block of  sleeping rooms for the evening of January 21 at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2310 Colonial Drive.  Please call them at 443-2100 before December 31, 2008 to reserve your room.  
The second Content Standards Writing Team meeting will be February 19, 2009 from 9:00 and to 3:00 pm in the OPI 1201 Conference Room.   I have reserved a block of sleeping rooms for the evening of February 18, 2009 at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel as well.  Please call them at 443-2100 and guarantee your room no later than January 19, 2009.
All ABLE teams should plan on attending;  ESL may come if they wish to have this work time.
Reimbursements and substitute pay will be the same as the last meeting.
Thanks to everyone for their commitment to this project.

Carol Flynn

ABLE Directors Meeting

The annual Program Director's Meeting will be held in Helena on January 28, 2009 I have a conference room reserved at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel for January 28 and a group of sleeping rooms for the evening of January 27.  Please call Red Lion at 443-2100 and guarantee a room with your credit card.  Red Lion is located at 2310 Colonial Drive.  We'll start our meeting at 8:00 am.

Carol Flynn

Leadership Academy

The Leadership Academy group will meet on January 29 in the OPI 1300 Conference Room.  Since a number of you are both a director and a Leadership Academy member, you should also reserve a sleeping room for the night of January 28.  I have rooms for you for both days and rooms for the Leadership members that are not program directors.  Meet at the OPI 1300 Conference Room at  8:00 am.
Release dates on these sleeping rooms is December 31, 2008.

Carol Flynn

MABLE Updates



We just added new features to your Site Summary page. For each student needing an assessment, you will notice a button that says Assessment Report. This report will show you all the tests the student has been given in all content areas. Also, the last assessment on the site summary is now referring to the last assessment given. It is no longer referring to the original primary area of instruction, and the hours since the last test refers to hours since the last test (not just the last test in the primary area of instruction).
These improvements will definitely assist you in tracking student achievement.
Coming soon an Assessment Report for all students (not just students on the Site Summary).


Response #4 to Research #4

The first four research snippets on MTLINCS have been taken from the Reach Higher, America report and the Reach Higher, Montana conference.  What really has created the change in education?  Mass education for all?  What is it we really value any more?  What changes do we need to make now at both the local and state level in order to positively affect the most recent statistics?  To be honest, in order to move forward, I just don't see how we can do things in isolation.  If this isn't a time for collaboration, I don't know what is.

Norene Peterson, Billings


Response #3 to Research #4

I liked that the conference addressed many of the issues dealing with getting people ready to enter post-secondary ed or the workforce and that we identified several ways to make improvements.  It will be interesting to see what our next plan of action will be. 

One other thought:  If out-of-school youth do not obtain a GED, post-secondary education will not be an option for them.  Getting a GED needs to be a primary goal for anyone without a diploma.  It seems as if this issue could have been discussed more thoroughly during the conference.

Mike Rea, Lewistown

Response #2 to Research #4

The "Reach Higher Montana" conference reminded me of "The good, the bad and the ugly"
  • The Good:  Educators at the post-secondary level are beginning to understand what ABLE represents and the importance of our programs to their success. 
  • The Bad:  As near as I could ascertain , there were no tribal colleges represented at the conference.  They need to be a vital part of the solutions.
  • The Ugly:  Many of the statistics presented were not only ugly, they were frightening.  If we are truly going to be competitive in a global market our educational systems need to make some major changes.

    Jerry Guay, Hardin


Response #1 to Research #4

The Reach Higher, America report does a wonderful job of sharing the economic impact of education for every citizen.  With the economy being the focus of the political arena at present, I would encourage every adult educator to read this report and share the economic impact of raising the literacy levels of all adults with our politicians, legislators, business leaders, and parents!!!  If every one of us makes it a priority to share what we do and how important our work is to the lives of our students as well as our local economy, more students will find our centers and access our services.

Suzette Fox, Billings Adult and Community Education


Check out the new website USALearns at www.usalearngs.org.


Response #1 to Our Treacherous Path

I downloaded the Executive Summary of “Reach Higher…” and was a little skeptical.  It states, “Young adults are less educated than the previous generation”.  I’d like to see the data that came from.  The percentage of college graduates has steadily increased since World War II and still shows minor increases each year.  It also states, “88 million adults have at least one major educational barrier…”.  This equates to nearly 60% of the workforce.  Personally, I find that a little hard to believe.  Also, define “major barrier”.  We all have barriers (mine is the fact that I’m not a millionaire).  Finally, the report states “One in three young adults drop out of school…”  I’d love to know where that came from!  I live in an area with one of the highest dropout rates in the state and we don’t even come close to that number.  Even our minority students graduate at a much higher rate than that.

I don’t have the time or inclination to read the entire report.  I would hope some of these claims are substantiated in the complete report.

I look forward to attending the Time for Action conference in Billings, perhaps some of my skepticism will end.

Jerry Guay, Hardin


Research Item #3:  Percentage Lacking Literacy Skills

Our Treacherous Path

Americans should have been stunned when the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), released in 2005, revealed that a staggering 30 million American adults scored at "below basic" - meaning they could perform no more than the most rudimentary literacy tasks.  Another 63 million adults could perform only simple, basic everyday literacy activities.

The NAAL findings are ominous because most good jobs require at least some education beyond high school.  The NAAL found that of the approximately 222 million adults aged 16 or older living in households or prisons in the United States, some 93 million lack literacy at a level needed to enroll in the postsecondary education or job training that current and future jobs require.

Reach Higher, America:  Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, Report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, June 2008. National Commission on Adult Literacy, www.nationalcommissiononadultliteracy.org, p. 2. 


Whoa!  Is this the conclusion you all draw from the information above?

Approximately 42% of America's adults aged 16 or older LACK literacy skills in order to get a good job.   

Does that figure bother any of you?  What do you think?  Please tell MTLINCS to take a math class!

Click here to mail a response to MTLINCS.


Reflections of Professional Development Activities


Norene, thanks for encouraging us to share.  I enjoyed many unique sectionals at MEA.  It was an informative conference.  I would like to thank those who took the time and effort to allow MACCE to be a part of MEA.    

M.J. Hamling did an excellent sectional on “Ideas for Struggling High School Math Students”.  I particularly like the “rule of four” note-taking sheet.  It is setup so that students can take thorough notes on math concepts in different formats (i.e.; algebraic (if applicable), numeric, verbal and geometric).  If you are interested in learning how this is done, please email me at jacksonk@billings.k12.mt.us

M.J. also told us about a book called, Tear Soup by Schweiber, DeKlyen, and Bills.  It is an excellent book that explains in simple terms how different people deal with grief.  What’s unique about it is that it is easy to understand.  The illustrations are excellent, a must for any adult education program.

Finally, I did not learn this at MEA, but I used it during my sectionals.  Moourl.com is a website that allows people to shorten and personalize urls.  For example, this is a website for math facts: http://home.indy.rr.com/lrobinson/mathfacts/mathfacts.html

I went to moourl.com, shortened and personalized it to: http://moourl.com/mathfacts 

It goes to the same website but the second one is easier for the students to remember. 

So, check it out and impress your friends.  I guarantee you will use it more than once.

Kathy Jackson, Billings Adult Education Center

Click here to access information from MAACE at MEA-MFT Sectionals.

Leadership Academy

I have always dreaded welcoming people to orientation and saying I am sorry but one of the things we are going to do as a part of orientation is test you.  Listening to Lennox share what West Virginia found when they did Student forums and the adjustments they made to their orientation as a result inspired me to talk with our staff about making changes as well.  The Missoula ABLE staff was excited about making a significant change to our orientation process.  We are in the midst of making the changes now and hope to implement them in time for winter quarter.  Testing won’t be a part of the first contact students have.  Instead they are going to get to learn about their learning styles and preferences and how to use those in the classroom. 

Renee Bentham, Missoula

Montana was fortunate to have Lennox McLendon onsite to host the first Montana/Idaho LA meeting.  The self-assessment piece should be a very interesting one for the Billings staff to complete since the staff has several new members.  Looking at what we do well and want to improve upon will be good for all of us.

Norene Peterson, Billings Adult Education Center

The first meeting of the Leadership Academy demonstrated the commitment and willingness of the participants to share their time and expertise to improve the delivery of adult education across the state.

Margaret Bowles, OPI

Halloween Activities for ESL


Click here for activities at http://bogglesworldesl.com/halloween_worksheets.htm.

Katya Irish, Great Falls

Second Response by Woody


The Adult Education budget coming from OPI to ABLE has gone up and still needs to go up even higher to allow us to provide even more adequate services and grow our enrollment.  That OPI allocated budget to Adult Education as further allocated and used by Margaret still comes from a total OPI budget.  The total OPI budget for public education (K-12 & adult education) has ever increasing demands not matched by incoming revenue growth.  What we get as adult educators from the State (not federal, not local taxes) is still in competition for resources with K-12 public education.  It’s the same pot of money that K-12 and adult education draw upon that become separate line items.  There are some State Statute requirements relative to whom adult education money can be spent on.  Those regulatory requirements generally say 16 or older and not public school enrolled.  There are things that adult education can do in terms of credit recovery, alternative high school credit acquisition, transfer high school credit, and diploma completions for high schools with their ex-students or those disenfranchised for the moment (16 and older, not enrolled, 10 day absence rule victims, counseled out, etc.).  Some un-enrolled high school age youth that fall into the dropout category could, would, or do reintegrate to high school enrollment as favorable statistics, if there were adult education services available them enabling that sort of transition or bridge.  With the AA High Schools all struggling to meet AYP, they might be looking for help from any source to include adult education.

Marketing adult education, as being able to do just that function, is what I am proposing.  We need to sell our potential contribution to K-12 education as self-advocacy allowing us to get more State adult education funding for ourselves, as one of many approaches, to include transition to post-secondary and what we can do for job skills training also.  Going proactive may be a whole lot more beneficial than a “poor me” or I need more money approach.

Those types of services would benefit a high school’s AYP, at-risk services, alternative education services, etc. if utilized and perceived as such.  In times of economic crunch for public schools, the very programs designed to handle at-risk services and alternative education initiatives of a proactive nature are the first to go.  They are the first to go as part of cut-backs, because they are the last added or not deemed as “absolute essentials.”  I suspect that if the pending funding court case does not infuse substantial funding for Montana public education K-12 that is not a one time or short term event, then lots of the bigger school districts in Montana will go into a financial “melt-down.” 

Please be aware that Helena and Billings both are pursuing other ways of earning a HS diploma outside of the K-12 budget using locally generated adult education funding in conformance with the law, but being a different application and true alternative education as compared to at-risk educational services.  Actually, many of the AA High School Districts are interested in the initiatives going on primarily in Helena.  Helena has already gotten the State’s Board of Public Education’s “okey dokey” to proceed.  For further info, you may want to dial in David Strong working for Helena Public Schools.

If the State wants to allow certain dual enrollment functions by law for greater budget flexibility, effectiveness, and efficiency that would also be a major common sense application.  I might add that “common sense” isn’t that common around here or for how we have historically done things in Montana public education.

Woodrow H. Jensen, Billings Adult Education Center

ESL Resource:  CAELA


We have so many amazing resources on the CAELA and CAELA Network Web sites that it would be hard to know which ones to begin sending you.  Check out Working With Literacy-Level Adult English Language Learners at http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/collections/literacy.html   .

Sarah Young, Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA)


Response #5

Dear Colleagues,

I just read the comments on MTLINCS and had a couple of observations to add.

First, looking at trends over time, we have seen two additional kinds of dropouts in addition to the litany of reasons that most people leave school. We have a few students each year who drop out because the work is not challenging and they simply want to get on with their lives. Those showed up after NCLB implementation and they are not a very large number of our students. We also have more students who have a high school diploma (and an IEP) who are seeking basic skills so that they might be employable or even just to be better parents.

Still, most of the students we see do not fit into either of those categories. I was intrigued by Renee's comment about liking to see their youth portion of their student population around 25%. We advertise and serve those who are eligible for services. Our young adult population exceeds 50% of our students, and that does impact the other students. Don't Federal and State laws prevent us from discriminating on the basis of age once folks reach eligible age?

Woody, I have to disagree with your funding comments for a couple of reasons. First, the state dollars for ABLE are a drop in the bucket compared to funding for public schools. The Federal dollars clearly state that they cannot be expended on students enrolled in public education. The State dollars that are put up to match the Federal dollars are subject to the same restrictions as the Federal dollars. State law also prevents expending the state funds on students enrolled in public schools. So, I guess my question is, how can Adult Education funds be spent to help districts "capture" additional enrollment counts without breaking the law?

Dixie Stark, Literacy Bitterroot, Hamilton


High School Dropout Rate:  Has the drop-out rate impacted your ABLE program?  If so, how?

Responses to Woody Jensen's Post on 9/23

The new youth dropout impacting the ABLE programs are those with good literacy skills and sometimes exceptional ones who are bailing out of high school because the high school pacing, requirements, and learning environment are limiting, irrelevant, not challenging, and often not done in the way they learn best.


Response #4

Even though we aren't a large program, we are seeing a small rise in the number of youth with good skills dropping out and just wanting to take the GED test.  If they're at a 12.9 grade level, they are in and out of here sometimes without 12 hours (we do TABE survey, not complete battery) so it impacts our statistics of students with 12 or more hours.  I would say the impatience and need for instant everything is a change I see in serving the younger dropouts we're serving.

Melinda Lynnes, Miles City

Response #3

ABSOLUTELY!!!!  In night school we have some students who can complete all the requirements for a specific class in half the time it would take them in a traditional class. However, some need more time to complete curriculum and deadlines are the reasons they fail. I have 2 students who are very bright, but need extra time; they weren't afforded that option in traditional schools.  The majority of my students come to the program with a need to connect requirements to how they pertain to them.  Without the relevance there is no buy in, and without the buy in even some of the brightest students want no part of it.

Vicki Mattingly, Great Falls

Response #2

We see students with a wide range of literacy skills from exceptional to very poor.  They drop for a variety of reasons, not just ones Woody stated.  They might drop for those reasons, but they don't articulate them exactly as Woody stated. 
The reasons I usually hear include-- "Well, I got into some problems (ie. trouble), or I need to be working more hours, or my family split up and I'm living with a friend and just need to get this GED done asap, or we just moved (mid year) here and I can't catch up to get my credits to graduate, or I have to take care of my child, my sister (or sometimes a parent)--The list goes on.

Cathy Smyers, Missoula

Response #1

Those are not the students we are seeing in Missoula.  Some of the students who leave have very good skills but they are more likely leaving because they have missed too much school, they are uncomfortable socially in the high school environment or there is a family situation not because of the pacing, requirements and learning environment.  That being said, I agree that some of those things should be looked at but it is not causing the drop out problem in Missoula.

Renee Bentham, Project Director Dickinson Learning Center, Missoula


ESL Website


I would like to share with the ESL instructors the site below.  It is really nice!


Katya Irish, Great Falls

High School Dropout Rate:  Has the drop-out rate impacted your ABLE program?  If so, how?

9/30/08    Response #2 to Question

The dropout rate has impacted Missoula.  We work hard to be a program that serves adults.  We are not funded to have the staffing required to serve a large population of youth.  We have an influx of youth in the fall and winter after the ANB count and when grades come out and students see that they aren’t going to be able to earn enough credits to graduate.  We are happy to serve youth, however we like to keep them at no more than 25% of our total program at any given time.  When we have more than that it tends to impact the adults and we are challenged with not having the staff to provide the supervision needed to work with the students. 

Last winter our population of youth ranged from 31-35%.  When that happens I have to spend more of my time walking the halls.  We have incidents like all of the spray bottles in our gym being emptied on the floor and other kinds of mischief both more and less serious in nature.  In addition, often the youth are not ready to be in a classroom where they are required to be self directed and focused so they are disruptive simply due to a lack of maturity.  It is a challenge we deal with regularly as we attempt to sort out how best to serve this population given the resources available.

Renee Bentham, Project Director Dickinson Learning Center, Missoula

9/23/08    Response #1 to Question

ABLE programs have always served young and beyond young dropouts needing a GED as a secondary credential.  Traditionally those drop-outs have had poor literacy skills and a lack of success in public schooling.  ABLE has always served an adult population having a GED or HS diploma knowing that even with the credential that what they had in their literacy toolkit for being really ready for post-secondary training or having the skills for career advancement was not good enough.  The new youth dropout impacting the ABLE programs are those with good literacy skills and sometimes exceptional ones who are bailing out of high school because the high school pacing, requirements, and learning environment are limiting, irrelevant, not challenging, and often not done in the way they learn best.

Knowing the bigger ABLE centers in MT are aligned with and part of public schools and realizing that public schools are struggling, one good marketing approach for ABLE centers through ABLE or community adult education funding is to provide services under a broader concept of public education cooperation to youth 16 or over that the high schools would value or need to help them succeed.  Right now, in trying for more state dollars from the K-12 public education budget, if Adult Education gets more, then public high schools get less.  That’s a hard thing to sell to OPI budget authorities where adult education should get more when public education is fighting for its own survival.  If Adult Education wants more of the state’s budget pie, then they have to provide services and graduate completions, credit recovery, or transition services leading to a return to high school or alternative HS diploma options supporting public school graduation rates.

Woody Jensen, Director of Billings Adult Education Center

High School Dropout Rate Research


Good Morning,
Research item number one in the 9/22 MT LINCS email gives you the link to Reach Higher America: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce. This is the report the Gary Eyre referred to throughout the ABLE Data Quality Conference and the GED/ABLE Annual Meeting.
I urge you to read this document. I believe it is going to shape our work in the years to come.
Margaret Bowles
Adult Literacy and Basic Education Specialist
Office of Public Instruction

Distance Learning PowerPoint


... I have a favor to ask...Could you provide a link to the Distance Learning PowerPoint (from last week's data quality workshop) on the Distance Learning webpage of the MTLincs website?

Victoria Clark
Literacy Bitterroot staff and
Bitterroot Valley Community College Effort spokesperson

Done!  The PDF of the PowerPoint is now posted on the Resource link of the Distance Learning page at http://www.nwlincs.org/mtlincs/opi/DL/dlresources.htm .



Content Standards


Things to Bring to DQ

Team Members,

As you can imagine, I am very excited to begin the content standards process. My work with our facilitator continues, and as you might expect, I did ask what you would need to bring to the conference. At this point in time, we would ask those of you that have access to a laptop to please bring it along. We will be using laptops on the 17th in the content standards break out room.

Below is a quick overview of the work we will do on the 16th and 17th:

DAY 1: September 16th

Overall Workshop Goal for Day 1

The goal of this presentation is to increase the awareness and knowledge of standards-based education and to recognize the importance of developing content standards for Montana’s adult learners. This will be achieved through a slide presentation with hand-outs and a participative discussion.

Specific Workshop Objectives-Day 1

  • Recognize the importance of  standards-based education
  • Identify the goals of standards-based education for adults in Montana
  • Define and differentiate commonly used terms (content standards, indicators or benchmarks, performance standards)

DAY 2: September 17th

Overall Workshop Goal for Day 2

The goal of this workshop is to assist the writing teams in the standards writing process. This will be achieved by:

  • Organizing and orientating subject area writing teams for coordinating, developing and reviewing content standards
  • Delegating team leaders who will be responsible for coordinating their content area teams
  • Brainstorming how to adapt or develop content standards after review existing content standards in other states that use TABE as their assessment system
  • Reviewing resources that will guide in the development of the standards
  • Identifying potential challenges and solutions to obstacles so that contingency plans can be prepared if difficulties arise during the standards writing process
  • Developing an action plan for estimating the timeframe when each subject area’s first draft of the content standards will be completed

Specific Workshop Objectives-Day 2

  • Appoint a team leader for each writing team who will be responsible for coordinating the team
  • Determine the specific roles of each team participant
  • Decide which resources need to be reviewed before the standards writing process begins along with a timeframe for reviewing these resources
  • Determine how often teams should meet during the standards writing process  which should include the logistics (when, where, how long)
  • Form a consensus on what needs to be aligned to Montana’s adult education content standards (NRS, GED test, TABE, college placement tests, EFF)
  • Identify  potential challenges and solutions to obstacles so that contingency plans can be prepared if difficulties arise during the standards writing process
  • Develop an action plan for estimating the timeframe when each subject area’s first draft of the content standards will be completed

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer!


Margaret Bowles, Adult Literacy and Basic Education Specialist, Office of Public Instruction



Survey Clarification

Good Afternoon,
It has come to my attention that there needs to be clarification of the term instructors in regards to who needs to fill our the  ESL Instructor Professional Profile and Needs Assessment. An  ESL student is a non-native speaker (NNS) of English, who is enrolled at our ABLE sites for ESL, GED, Even Start, or any type of  transition class or any combination there of.
Thus, any instructor who logs contact hours with such students should complete the survey.
The CAELA team is eager to compile the responses and begin building a long term professional development plan.
Please contact me if you have any further questions.