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Date: Thu Jun 23 2005 - 21:28:42 EDT

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1132] Re: FW: RE: Literacy needs
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Hi Nancy and all,
Yes, I do understand the inhumanity of what we do and do understand the reason for change. However, our state requires that we use the TABE to measure educational gains or else we lose funding, and then students are in worse shape because there is no program at all for the students.
And I certainly understand why the state requires that we use the TABE. Otherwise we would have unsuccessful programs receiving funding, quality of education may lag significantly without accountability, and students may be cheated one more time. There is no perfect solution, just as there is no perfect way to assess. The TABE is totally objective--multiple choice.  Having a subjective portion such as writing an essay in response to a specific question, would improve the ability of our instructors to measure student ability.
I have indeed have students TABE higher than their ability as well as lower when comparing their designated score to the list of competencies that go along with such labels as pre-lit, ABEI, ABEII, and so on.  Labeling is a major topic I studied in grad school as a Rhetoric major, and I do understand completely the inhumanity of telling a 47 year old city employee that he is third grade level, for example. These are the bits of information that I try not to share, but the students are smarter than we give them credit for. 
I am really glad that others are seeing the need to revise the way we do things, but change must be taken seriously because there is, I still believe, no perfect way to do what we do. Consequences for making change will always affect those we chose to teach and to encourage on the path to success.

Tina Luffman
Instructional Specialist, ABE-GED
Verde Valley Campus
634-6544 wrote: -----

To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Sent by:
Date: 06/23/2005 04:05PM
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1131] Re: FW: RE: Literacy needs

Quick comment to add to what Nancy says. We don't prestest students
either, and we do have a large Spanish GED program. We welcome anyone
interested and we've had students who had 3rd and 4th grade education
from Mexico enrolling. The instructors assess students while in the
class. Once students have been in class for a while the instructors
give them the sample tests in the Spanish GED books. Not using any
pretest has not been a deterrent for us. In fact, we have very mixed
classes with students with various academic levels. They work in groups
and help each other a lot. We have high retention and completion rates.

What we do do, is we ask the students to fill out an entry form with
questions such as name, address, telephone number, personal interests,
background, etc. these types of forms are very useful and much more
precise at assessing the literacy level of a person than a commercial
standardized test. By looking at penmanship, use of capitals,
punctuation, syntax,orthography, etc. you can get a very accurate

I do not have any ABE funding for GED nor I want any for the reasons
articulated by Tina and Michael. NRS has reduced learners to producers
of meaningless numbers. We have a small EL civics grant and we must
report gains for NRS. The testing detract us from focusing on important
things like language competency gains and retention issues and it takes
precious time away from students and teachers. We do it cause we have
to, not because of any pedagogical benefit.


Please take a look at my artwork:

-----Original Message-----
From: Marie Cora
To: Multiple recipients of list
Sent: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 18:32:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1129] FW: RE: Literacy needs

 Hello everyone,

The following post is from Nancy Hansen.

Nancy Hansen
Executive Director
Sioux Falls Area Literacy Council
605) 332-BOOK
Dear Michael and Tina et all,

I have a real problem with the value system that drives the process
that you both implement.

I am a literacy provider who doesn't test the community-based
literacy-level registrants who come to us for help.  Instead I evaluate
their reading, writing and life skills.  I do not have GED students
either.  So perhaps that's where my philosophy goes off-to-the-left of
many instructors/administrators like you.

Michael commented << If you need to demonstrate gains among a percentage
of students being pre-and posttested, it's good to test them on intake,
as you will likely get lower scores than you would once they're
To which Tina replied <will probably decide to continue giving the TABE at intake is
. because we are likely to get lower TABE scores from them when they
are first entering ...>>
Have either of you considered the inhumanity behind your decision?  Have
either of you thought about the learners' self-image and what it does to
their confidence failing immediately at intake?  And all for the sake of
a number that can be placed in a report.  Where a post-test won't even
show a significant level change (much less 2 grade levels in literacy
level students.)
I get the literacy-level adults who are, for the sake of numbers, tested
like your learners are.  They come to our program from GED-prep programs
like yours where, after the student has been subjected to the above
process, leap/jump/flee ship !!!  They've come with their heads hung
low, thinking they cannot succeed in *this* program either.  I have even
had men and women (mostly men) say to me *directly*, "I must be dumber
than I thought I was because I couldn't even pass their TABE test."
And they don't come immediately!  It can be months (up to a year) later
before they "dare" try again somewhere else.  It takes a very long time
for the Testing Wounds to heal after standardized, timed tests knock the
pins right out from under them.
I realize that funding drives *you* because testing is required by the
fed's.  And there may be a sensible reason to test GED students.  But do
all of the adult education entrants come wanting to achieve a GED and
enroll in classes to do so?  Don't you have men and women who want to
increase their personal capabilities and improve their life skills?
Their needs are not being met by giving them a low score that they have
to raise in the post-testing timeframe.
They know they've received a poor score.  And my belief is they hurt
because they are ashamed of that number their pracititioner has just
given them.  It's way more than "discouragement" as Michael puts it.
It's a loss of self-esteem.
I feel so strongly that there needs to be a broad base of advocates who
value people more than numbers among those who have the power to change
the assessment systems in our adult education field.  Is that a
fantasy?  Must be.  There are more like you than like me who come here
to chat.
Nancy Hansen
Sioux Falls, SD wrote:
Hi Michael,

I agree with you that the reason our program will probably decide to
continue giving the TABE at intake is not only to locate the students
into curriculum as soon as possible, but also because we are likely to
get lower TABE scores from them when they are first entering the process
rather than later when they are back into school mode.


Tina Luffman
Instructional Specialist, ABE-GED
Verde Valley Campus
634-6544 wrote: -----
To: Multiple recipients of list
From: "Michael & Sunay Gyori"
Sent by:
Date: 06/22/2005 02:41PM
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1113] RE: Literacy needs

Hi Tina,

If you need to demonstrate gains among a percentage of students being
and posttested, it's good to test them on intake, as you will likely get
lower scores than you would once they're comfortable. Under the Adult
Education & Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), students can receive up to 10
of instruction before they are tested.


Michael A. Gyori, Educational Linguist
Language Development & Technology Director
Language and Literacy Resource Center
Hui Malama Learning Center, Inc.
375 Mahalani Street
Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, 96793, U.S.A.

Tel: (808) 249-0111
Fax: (808) 249-0119


From: [] On
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 11:07 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1112] RE: Literacy needs

Hi Michael,

I agree with you that giving the TABE test on the first day of
is a discouragement for students. Because our funding requires that we
initially and then after a period of study, and then show educational
we feel it is necessary to maximize our potential for showing student
progress and maintaining our grant program by giving the exam first. I
see good rationale behind waiting a few weeks and having students begin
group lessons to create a community atmosphere, especially for those
with a
negative educational background. I will consider your ideas and find out
my program is willing to try this out.


Tina Luffman
Instructional Specialist, ABE-GED
Verde Valley Campus
634-6544!> <

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