WIA Community Conversations Transcripts - Assessment

WIA Community Conversations Transcripts


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Subject:  Assessment Questions
From:  Brenda Dann-Messier
Date:  Mon Jan 11 09:14:37 EST 2010

Assessment List Participants,

My name is
Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.
Thank you for planning time this week to participate in a virtual session of
the WIA Community Conversations (http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/discussions/10WIA).
I know it adds to your day to read and respond to discussion list posts, and I
deeply appreciate you giving so much of your time.

This week, I
ask that you discuss the successes and needs you see for adult education with
respect to this discussion list’s topic. I’m hoping that you’ll be candid and
honest, and that there will be an open and frank discussion on the list in this

I’m here to
listen, and to learn. This discussion is different from the typical discussion
list guest discussions. I’m not going to react to your suggestions or answer
questions. Please know, however, that what you suggest is worthwhile for the
Department to consider as it forms its policy position on WIA reauthorization.
Based on what I learn from the WIA Community Conversations, my hope is to be
able to say what the real issues are that impact the field, our students, and
our practitioners.

I will present all conversation comments to the State Directors of Adult
Education at their annual meeting in February. I will obtain their feedback as

If you are
interested in what others are saying across the country, in addition to what
you hear from this list discussion, please visit the Department of Education’s
blog http://www.edgovblogs.org/duncan/2009/11/workforce-investment-act-reauthorization/ .

transcripts from face-to-face sessions hosted by OVAE are linked to the blog.
We will link transcripts of these discussion list sessions to the blog as well.

start the discussion, please reply to this email with your thoughts on any of
the following questions:

  • What
    types of accountability measures are needed to successfully gauge whether adult
    learners are achieving their goals?
  • What
    do you see as some of the greatest challenges with our present accountability
    measures? What are some innovative solutions to those challenges?
  • How
    might WIA reauthorization support improving our present accountability
    measures? What are your hopes?

I look
forward to hearing from you,


Dr. Brenda


Office of
Vocational and Adult Education

States Department of Education

400 Maryland
Ave. S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202

Subject:  Student buy-in on
From:  Gregory Spooner
Date:  Mon Jan 11 16:02:14
EST 2010


One of the
biggest challenges we have had with our adult students is getting them to give
their best effort on our CASAS tests (CASAS tests are the tests we are required
to give in order to gauge our school's performance or

Our students
are not stupid. They are also oftentimes pressed for time; they want to quickly
complete their diploma program or GED preparation. When we give them these
CASAS tests, they oftentimes want to know why it is being given. It is obvious
to them it is not part of their diploma or GED work. When they find out it has
no bearing on either of these goals, they have little investment in the test's
importance. The results of these tests affect us, not them. Some of our
students still try their best, but many either don't care or do not have the
time. Humans, more often than not, act in their own self-interest. Judging by
completion times for our post-tests, I would estimate that about one-third to
one-half of our students simply randomly guess on the post-tests.

We have
discussed giving the students a discount on their cap & gown rentals if
they benchmark; however, this will only affect our diploma students, and only
those who go through our annual ceremony... this is only a small percentage of
our students. I'm interested to hear other ideas beyond stressing the
importance of the results for the school.

Greg Spooner

Long Beach School for Adults

Subject:  Student buy-in on
From:  Kevin O'Connor
Date:  Tue Jan 12 11:23:16
EST 2010

For our GED
and ESOL students, we explain to them how these tests affect us, and our
ability to provide free classes.  We ask them to do their best on these tests
because it is not them being tested, it is us, the school, and we need their
help.  They are adults, and we appeal to their sense of agency.  I cannot
recall anyone who did not at least seem to give it his or her best effort after
being told that this was a partnership and his or her help was needed.

Framingham Adult ESL Plus

Subject:  Student buy-in on
From:  Stephanie Moran
Date:  Tue Jan 12 14:40:01
EST 2010

Indeed, we
too come to our students and explain that we are able to keep our doors open in
part based on assessment outcomes, and so, when the students do their best,
that means that we'll be able to keep the doors open for all the other students
who need us. We have student assemblies and work hard to have authentic
relationships with our students (we have actual classes vs. drop-in), and they
very much respond well. As Kevin notes, the students are

adults and understand economic concerns when we are open with them.


Subject:  Student buy-in on
From:  Laura J. Chardiet
Date:  Tue Jan 12 12:51:42
EST 2010

We recently
created a standardized letter that explains the assessment and what the
student's part in it is. The letter has been translated and with it we hope to
create more student buy-in. We have found that even though we have stressed to
the teachers that they need to explain to the students why they are taking the
test and how this will help them and their instructional program the
information was not being delivered to all of the students. We hope the letter
to the students will standardize the message better.

students need to get their test results. They need to be shown their test
history and acknowledged when they make learning gains. Otherwise the test is
just a piece of paper flapping in the breeze.

Los Angeles Unified School District

Subject:  Student buy-in on
From:  Jackie Coelho
Date:  Tue Jan 12 13:30:07
EST 2010

I think
another positive spin on the tests is the idea of improving test taking skills.
If you point out to students that taking a test is a skill and any skill
improves with practice, then they are more likely to see the test as something


Subject:  Student buy-in on
From:  Stephanie Moran
Date:  Tue Jan 12 14:29:20
EST 2010

In response
to motivation and test results, I believe that Delaware has one of the highest
pass rates on the GED because it has strict requirements about pass rates on
the practice tests before a student is even allowed to take the GED. While I do
not want to bounce any student, the truth is that in terms of transitioning
successfully into college, a 450 is nowhere near college-level work--more like
a 9th grade level. Thus, when we pass students through the GED quickly and at
low scoring rates, their chance of survival let alone thriving in college is
dim at best because they are invariably stuck in several DEV/remedial
courses--perhaps half a dozen-and we all know what that means: money and time
and effort for non-credit-bearing courses unrelated to a student's actual
program goals.

Stephanie Moran

to Assessment Questions and Comments

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Ajit Gopalakrishnan
Date:  Tue Jan 12 16:21:58
EST 2010

I offer the
following suggestions for consideration in order to make the National Reporting
System (NRS) reflect more completely the outcomes achieved by our learners.

  • Evaluate
    learner progress based on ‘significant scale score gain’ instead of ‘level
  • Include
    the attainment of a secondary school credential as an indicator of success at
    least for the ABE High Intermediate and Adult Secondary Low levels (in addition
    to the Adult Secondary High level);
  • Evaluate
    learner gain across fiscal years (where applicable);
  • Display
    the post-test rate alongside the NRS results.

I concur
with others who have already mentioned the importance of sharing standardized
test results with learners. This feedback can be more meaningful to the learner
if research can highlight the relationship between learner performance on the
NRS levels and the successes they aspire to after adult education (e.g. GED
attainment, employment outcomes, postsecondary success, etc.). We have done
some research along these lines in Connecticut but much more is needed.

A piece I wrote for the Literacy and Numeracy Studies Journal titled Extending
Accountability: From compliance to learning discusses these and other issues in
more detail. It can be accessed online.

Thank you. 

Ajit Gopalakrishnan

Connecticut State Department of Education 

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Janet Isserlis
Date:  Tue Jan 12 16:36:51
EST 2010


Thanks for these wise words and for the link to your article ­and those of

Excellent resources, thanks.


Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Barbara J Struble
Date:  Tue Jan 12 15:08:17
EST 2010

I have been
involved with TABE, CASAS, and BEST Plus for more than 15 years. In addition,
most CBI programs included pre-assessments and post-assessments. The pre
assessments are sometimes used too automatically select lessons. These are my
thoughts on assessment.

  • Proper
    assessment is vitally important for adult learners who do not want

    to cover ground unnecessarily.
  • The
    assessment tool must have reliability and validity.
  • The
    assessment must be done in a proper environment with a trained monitor.

1. QU - What types of
accountability measures are needed to successfully gauge whether adult learners
are achieving their goals?

1. ANS - Employability
skills, workplace skills assessments should be mandatory under WIA. Writing
assessments should be mandatory under WIA. Assessment tools must match the ABE/ASE/ESL program goals under NRS levels. Reading assessment tools are good. Math assessment tools
are fair.

2. QU - What do you see as some of the greatest challenges with our
present accountability measures? What are some innovative solutions to those
2. ANS: Coordinating the
post assessment tool with the ABE/ASE/ESL program goals to complete the NRS
level or GED exam. SOLUTION: I base each education program for the next NRS
level / GED exam / BEST level and also the assessment post test. This takes
longer, sometimes too long for the June 30 deadline or semester end, but it is
the most successful one that I have found.

3. QU - How might WIA reauthorization support improving our present
accountability measures? What are your hopes?
3. ANS: More funding for
research that includes nation-wide data gathering. Funding for program grants
to purchase assessment tools for use on the computer instead of the paper.

Barbara J.

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Di Clark
Date:  Tue Jan 12 14:46:12
EST 2010

Because the
CASIS does not give specific literacy needs and because it doesn't give grade
levels, we must give a diagnostic reading and language battery written for
adults. Instructors need a graded reading level to locate instructional
material by grade level and they need to know specific needs such as ability to
decode multi-syllabic words. The CASIS is an extra

burden on staff and students. It takes up an extra hour and half.  Instead of
giving a monopoly to one or two test publishers, the government could set up
criteria for diagnostic tests such as: a K-12-Adult test from a major
publisher, used in universities and in at least the third edition. Tests as
these always yield the same grade levels regardless of publisher and they have
validity and reliability established by blind reviews. In addition they give
information useful in identification of learning disabilities. (Many adult
learners do have undetected disabilities.)We have a successful GED program, but
for years we have been following our students and in many cases cannot locate
them. They move without a forwarding address or a phone number. In our area
jobs are difficult to find. At one time we offered a $10 gift certificate for a
response and only seven out of seventy responded. Tracking people by Social
Security Numbers seems invasive and punitive.

Identity theft may increase. When we take a person who can't read and write the
alphabet and move him to the second grade level, it doesn't count as a gain in
the CASIS system. If one of our students obtains a GED or learns English, they
should be counted as a success. Is it our fault that Michigan has a significant
unemployment rate and they student can’t find work? Does

it count if they move out of the state looking for work elsewhere?

Di Clark

Capital Area Literacy Coalition

Lansing, MI

Subject:  WIA Assessment
Questions Participant Status
From:  Jenny Schlukebier
Date:  Wed Jan 13 11:51:23
EST 2010

I recommend
that NRS change the definition of a "participant" from students with
12+ hours of instruction to students with 20 or 30 hours of instruction.

Currently NRS defines "participants" as those students with 12 or
more hours of instruction, while testing manufacturers and states recommend
post testing after many more hours of instruction. Minnesota requires 40-60
hours of instruction and CASAS claims that most programs post-test between
70-100 hours of instruction. This creates a huge gap between obtaining "participant" status for NRS reporting purposes (12+ hours
of instruction) and when a student actually takes a post-test.

In addition we have a highly mobile population and students with life, work and
children commitments, we know that students often leave our programs well
before 60 or 70 hours of instruction.

Increasing the hours of instruction required to define a student as a "participant"
would close the gap a bit and allow us to report on students who have more
hours of instruction, have had more opportunity to learn and are more likely to
have post-tested.

Jenny Schlukebier

St. Paul Public Schools

Subject:  Accountability
From:  Anne Greashaber
Date:  Wed Jan 13 12:34:00
EST 2010


I manage a GED preparation program at a community college in Michigan. Our goal
is for our students to complete their GED, and then transition to postsecondary
education, hopefully, with us.

Our measures of success are simple: GED completion, college transition. We are
a GED testing center so we are able to get actual completion numbers and
transitions. Ideally, those would be our measures of success.

We are also asked to TABE pre and post test our students and call them five
times after completion or leaving our program to see what they are doing now.
The TABE testing especially the post testing is a distraction. Our students
take five practice GED tests (at least) five actual GED tests and they take
COMPASS before transitioning to college. Regardless of what we tell them, they
see TABE post-testing as a nuisance. With all this testing, you can see why.

Also, in Michigan, our WIA information is stored but not shared with adult
education entities. As a result, we are asked to call each student who leaves
our program to see if they have gained or improved their employment. We are
asked to call four times. We simply do not have the staff to complete this
request. I would like to see if the two recordkeeping systems in the state
could talk to each other so this information could be retrieved electronically
like it is in some other states.

Ideally, I would like to be measured against the purpose of our program. I
think outcomes should match assessments. Any thoughts?

Anne Greashaber

Washtenaw Community College

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Subject:  My take on the WIA
Assessment Questions
From:  Jim Schneider
Date:  Wed Jan 13 13:10:01
EST 2010

adults who were left behind as children is my passion. I was somewhat resistant
to the accountability process back in 1998, but soon bought into it. Having
worked with it since the inception I am VERY aware of the shortcomings of the
system. The following is by no means comprehensive, but hits most of the major issues as I see them. My apologies for the following lengthy diatribe. Thanks for this opportunity.

Q: What types of accountability measures are needed to successfully
gauge whether adult learners are achieving their goals?
R: More authentic accountability measures that reflect the realities of
and adult literacy student as oppose to imposing NBLB-like educational standards
created for the K-12 system. Respect adults literacy students have a myriad of responsibilities to fulfill
and their own unique goals when they enroll in a program. As a result, the
accountability measure requirements need to respect their time and not force
them to spend extensive time hopping through hoops that have little to do with their personal goals.

Q: What do you see as some of the greatest challenges with our present
accountability measures? What are some innovative solutions to those

The present accountability measures have too many provisions stacked against
the programs and learners. For example:

  • Holding programs accountable for any learner who attends over 12 hours, but
    not allowing post-testing to be done until after 40 or more hours.
    • Solutions: Make accountability & required instruction prior to
      post-testing the same #. If accountability starts at 12 hours, post-testing
      should be allowed at 12 hours. If post-testing isn't "authentic" or "realistic" until 40 hours, then programs
      should only be held accountable for learners who attend instruction for this
      amount of time.
  • Artificial & arbitrary "educational functioning levels" that
    require broad learning gains before recognizing the learning that has occurred.
    A learner at the lowest point of a level has to make
    significant gain to achieve the next level.
    • Solution: Eliminate EFL's. Recognize the learning gains that occur
      irrespective of the artificial & arbitrary levels.
  • Artificial & arbitrary "educational functioning levels" that
    recognize a learning gain when minimal learning has been attained. A learner at
    the highest possible point in an EFL only has to make a 1 point improvement for
    a gain to be recognized.
  • The GED and official practice tests probably do not meet all the psychometric
    requirement for accountability measures as defined by a NCLB system.
    Nevertheless, they are meaningful for a large portion of the learners we serve
    and ought to be recognized and utilized
  • Limiting the use of the GED for only the top EFL is ridiculous. Limiting the
    program from "counting" a student with less than xx hours is
    ridiculous. Anyone who has actually worked with adults knows that there are a
    myriad of reasons that people might not do as well on an assessment at
    orientation. It is a frequent occurrence that we help an adult overcome their
    anxiety and insecurities and they progress much more quickly than would have
    been expected by the all-knowing standardized assessment. This is yet another
    example of how the current system is stacked against the realities of the learners and programs.

How might WIA reauthorization support improving our present accountability
measures? What are your hopes?

Like most adult literacy professionals my wildest dreams would be that
reauthorization recognizes the tremendous cost to society of the adults who
were left behind as children and establish meeting their educational needs as a
priority. Adults who were left behind as children have little hope of competing
in the modern workforce. This lack of hope affects everyone around them from
society at large, their local community, and the children. Educated adults will
be contributing adults who are committed to the education of their children.
I lie awake at night dreaming of reauthorization in which legislators would
fund adult literacy programs at the level where part-time, low pay
instructors/staff would be the exception rather than the rule.

Reauthorization ought to establish a maximum number of students and managed
enrollment to be served by the available funding similar to what TRIO Programs are subjected to. As it
stands, some programs operate with very little to no state or local funds,
subsisting entirely on the
federal allocation, spreading it as far and wide as humanly possible. As a
result, programs are over-enrolled, learners are under-served, and effective
outcomes are miraculous. Or, require a local/state funding level so that local
program coordinators aren't trying to meet a Cadillac accountability system
with a Yugo budget working with a never-ending stream of students.

Below are relevant thoughts that I wrote one day when I was particularly
frustrated with the accountability measures and marginalization of my program
throughout all levels local, state, and federal.

Does anyone remember any of those wacky Doctor Dolittle characters from their
childhood books? As many as there were, the one I remember the most was the
Pushmi-pullyu (pronounced Push-Me-Pull-you). The Pushmi-pullyu was the
two-headed llama whose two halves were so connected that they had to work
together to go anywhere. I bring this up
because it seems to me that it is an appropriate metaphor for the state of
Adult Literacy Education during my 16 years as a local program coordinator.

are a myriad of competing forces that we face on a daily basis.

  • GED
    Completion vs. adequate academic preparation for Postsecondary Education
  • Research
    based instructional practices vs. part-time, low pay, limited
  • Enrollment
    based goals of heads & hours vs. educationally sound practices
    or focus on outcomes
  • Student
    Want What They Want When They Want It vs. part-time, limited
  • Students
    want what they want vs. NRS Benchmarks & Goals
  • Narrowly
    defined NRS measures vs. Adult Literacy Education Realities.
  • Learner-based
    instruction vs. Accountability Measures - Benchmarks
  • What
    we have vs. What we want
  • Who
    we are vs. Who we could be
  • What
    we accomplish vs. What we could accomplish


Career Assistance Center

Davenport, IA

Subject:  Assessment
From:  Valerie Fischer
Date:  Wed Jan 13 13:23:48
EST 2010

reauthorization should maintain a high accountability system and measures for
student outcomes. The success of adult education is valued because of what data
is kept on outcomes. It's a necessary evil sometimes, but it works.
Reauthorization needs to look at the development of a secondary system for
those learners who make significant progress but do not advance from one ELF to
another (i.e., ESL). While it's a positive growth, if it isn't from one EFL to
the next, then it doesn't count and that doesn't seem right. Each state will
continue to have those learners and a secondary system would allow states to
report gains in another manner that can actually expand the success of adult
education. Lastly, there must be flexibility for testing before 60 hours - if
we could do so, we'd have better data to report, especially in the situations
where students leave, etc.

Valerie Fischer

ND Department of Public Instruction

Bismarck, ND

Subject:  Assessment
From:  Susan Sherard
Date:  Thu Jan 14 15:13:56
EST 2010

We are a
small community organization which supports about 100 student/tutor pairs at
any given time. Most of the students are low functioning, and all of the tutors
are volunteer. All but a few of the pairs meet weekly, and some students
utilize the computer lab in addition. In past years, on average, our students
have consistently met state targets for advancement, which means that the
one-to-one, weekly model is an effective practice for some adult learners.

The new assessment requirements - which require a minimum number of hours for
post-testing - do not take into account the effectiveness of the one-to-one,
once a week model, which derives its benefit from something other than hours.
With the new requirement, in fact, only a few of our 100 students will qualify
for post-testing within a year, even though many will have progressed
(according to past record).

Our suggestion is that we return to the practice of using the minimum hours for
post-testing as guidelines rather than requirements, so that we can continue to
use the one-to-one, weekly model where it is clearly effective. Otherwise, the
lowest functioning adults, and adults who are working two and three jobs, will
eventually find themselves without access to basic education, because there
isn't adequate funding to support that model of community-based service.

Susan Sherard

Moore County Literacy Council

Southern Pines, NC

Subject: Final Day of WIA
Community Conversations
From:  David Williams
Date:  Fri Jan 15 18:23:50
EST 2010

What types of accountability measures are needed to successfully gauge
whether adult learners are achieving their goals?
Adult learning theory
tells use that adults need to be able to see progress toward their goal(s) if
they are going to persistence in any program. Therefore, we need to be able to
provide some system of benchmarks that will show the learner as well as the
instructor that progress is being made. Instructional programs need to be
continuously reviewed to determine if they are meeting these goals by using the

What do
you see as some of the greatest challenges with our present accountability
What are some innovative solutions to those challenges? Unfortunately, our
present system of standardized tests is inadequate as a benchmark tool in
measuring progress in short enough periods to satisfy most learners. They are
designed more as summative assessments. We have begun using a series of
formative assessments (designed by instructors) to aid in measuring progress.
Again, unfortunately, these benchmarks do not serve as "pay points"
for WIA funding and they are time consuming and labor costly to develop and
use. Because we, in California, are not presently driven by attendance as the
principal determination for funding with general adult education funds, we were
able to move to a managed enrollment in the majority of our WIA program
classes. This has allowed instructors to use these formative assessments in a
more managed environment (and typically with slightly smaller class sizes), but
funding resources still drive the number of classes/sections we can operate, so
they may be many learners who are forced to wait to enter into instruction.

How might
WIA reauthorization support improving our present accountability measures?
First, we need to
connect the WIA programs. As an example Title I and Title II programs are
entirely disconnected, but in many ways are serving the same populations. If we
are to better provide transitions for adult learners we need this connectivity
among all WIA programs.

What are
your hopes?
Our regional WIA networking group met today and I asked this question to them.
The previous response was based on some of that feedback. Additionally, if we
are going to emphasize and require transitions through program levels as a
principal WIA goal, we are going to need funding to develop tracking systems
across a variety of programs and we are going to need start up funding to
create benchmark assessments (much the same way that EL Civics was initially
funded at start up). Funding based on level/program completion would come
at too large a time period to be able to provide adequate instructional
programs for most adults.

David Williams

Beaumont Adult School

Beaumont CA.

Subject:  Assessment
From:  Allison Pickering
Date:  Wed Jan 13 21:30:40
EST 2010

Hello all,
In California we receive "pay points" for statistically significant
learner gains, two-level completions in ESL(on CASAS), and for those who set it
as a goal regardless of entry level, GED completion. I would like to see a
national policy. What is reasonable? I do not object to pre- and post-testing
with a valid and reliable, standardized assessment four times a year to capture
most of the students who pass through our program. Alas, also in California, in order to get all the WIA funds available we also have to conduct EL Civics
performance-based assessments. These are designed by each agency and are in no
way standardized, reliable or valid; yet we have to expend HUGE amounts of
staff time and energy in creating and administering the assessments. Although
we do make some money on it, the cost / benefit ratio is very low. Also, no
other division of education has to test so much to get their money. The EL
Civics carrot (or stick depending on perspective) means classroom-based,
teacher-created assessments get omitted because we are chasing dollars. Some
agencies try to meet the intent of the law; others are less conscientious. A
slap dash approach to accountability is easier with these agency created
assessments than with one that has been field tested and the results passed
through psychometric analysis.

types of accountability measures are needed to successfully gauge whether adult
learners are achieving their goals?
Learner educational gains and goals can be
two different things. Learning is one of a student's goals. As in other
divisions of education a simple, reliable and valid standardized assessment,
such as CASAS or other similar instrument, meets accountability needs. It is
easy to administer can be compared across programs, and is far less burdensome
than performance-based or one-on-one assessments. As far as post-AE goals are
concerned, funding for counseling and transition classes will assist in
tracking students' success in attaining goals--provided we can track them down
as has been pointed out.

How might
WIA reauthorization support improving our present accountability measures? What
are your hopes?
I would hope for a simple, national assessment policy. Although the original
law mandates multiple assessments, only one, perhaps from a menu of choices, or
not, --even if administered several times in a year-- should be THE
accountability instrument for receiving the WIA dollars. GED completion
regardless of entry level should count. Agencies should not have to create and
administer EL Civics assessments.

Allison Pickering

Escondido Adult School

Subject:  Assessment
From:  Jan Forstrom
Date:  Thu Jan 14 11:44:07
EST 2010

I agree with
all of your comments, Allison, especially those related to the lack of
standardization in EL Civics implementation and assessments across the state.
This is not due to lack of effort on the part of CASAS. They've done a stellar
job to provide pre-approved assessment plans, networking opportunities,
training, etc. to promote standardization. There is just no feasible method to
really check up on what each and every agency is actually doing in their EL
Civics programs. I'd like to note that California is the only state in which
agencies are required to do additional assessments in order to access EL Civics

Jan Forstrom

Continuing Education San Diego Community College District

Subject:  Assessment
From:  David Williams
Date:  Thu Jan 14 19:42:02
EST 2010


Just wanted to clear up some confusion. Agencies do not have to participate in EL
Civics to receive WIA funds. There are many agencies in California that did not
submit for the EL Civics grant, but still participate in the WIA grant. While
it is true that in order to qualify for an EL Civic pay-point a learner must
have a complete SOD (Student Outcome Data set) which includes an appropriate
pre and post CASAS test pair, they do not have to have an EL Civic assessment
for a WIA pay point.

David Williams

Beaumont Adult School, CA

Subject:  Assessment
From:  Allison Pickering
Date:  Fri Jan 15 12:28:56
EST 2010


Of course, we don't HAVE to participate in EL Civics. I object to having to do
all that testing to get *available* funds. The EL Civics money should be rolled
back into regular WIA, Title II funding and distributed to all agencies through
the regular pre- and post-testing not this ridiculously burdensome, invalid
hoop jumping.

Allison Pickering

Escondido Adult School

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Vincent Szymanski
Date:  Wed Jan 13 09:22:06
EST 2010

The GED as
a Measure of Achievement

I'm not sure
if this has been said yet, but I understand that the GED test itself used to
act as a post test. If this was the case, I think that it must have served as
an excellent way to show student gain, especially with students who may have
disconnected from an ABE program without taking a retest. Would there be any
consideration to reinstate such a policy that could very well work to
demonstrate student progress?

Vinnie Szymanski

Adult Learning Center

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Amy Peritsky
Date:  Wed Jan 13 09:52:55
EST 2010


I agree that passing the GED should count as a measure of educational gain,

regardless of the entry level of the student.

Amy Peritsky

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Kathleen Kelly
Date:  Wed Jan 13 10:01:58
EST 2010

I'm sorry to
disagree with you, but a large number of our students already have HS diplomas
and are taking ABE courses because they cannot read or do math at a high enough
level to enter vocational or post-secondary education. I do not believe that
the GED was designed to measure progress or gains in specific areas the way
reading or math assessments are, so we should be very careful about using such
a lengthy, costly and stressful test for that purpose.



Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Rick Burgin
Date:  Wed Jan 13 11:12:51
EST 2010

I can see
both points. If a student already has a GED, then it’s certainly not
appropriate to use the GED test to measure gain. If a student is a GED student
and tests at an NRS level 6, the GED test is used to show completion of level
6. If a student’s pretest at a level 5, and only needs a few hours of REVIEW,
we get penalized because they don’t need 60 hours of attendance (required by
test mfg.) to give a post-test. If the student is ready to take the GED and
scores high on a teacher made test, we should be able to show level gain or at
least a completion when we send them to take the GED.

Rick Burgin

Casper College

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Amy Peritsky
Date:  Wed Jan 13 11:33:42
EST 2010

I completely
agree that using passing the GED exam as a measure of educational gain would
not be appropriate for students who do not have the goal of obtaining a GED.
However, for programs where obtaining the GED is the student's goal, students
sometimes do not show gain on their post-test (we use the TABE), or may fail to
post-test, and still take and pass the GED exam. (In NY students can self-refer
to take the GED exam.) Under current WIA regs, if the student's entry level is
level 5 (Low Adult Secondary Education) or lower, passing the GED exam does not
count as an educational gain. I am suggesting that for the students described
above, it would be helpful if passing the GED could be used as an alternative
method of measuring educational gain.

Amy Peritsky

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Rick Burgin
Date:  Wed Jan 13 13:01:50
EST 2010

Thanks Amy
for clarifying this issue. I’m afraid I was inarticulate when I responded to
this earlier. Of course the student needs to have a goal of GED. We would never
send the student to take the GED test solely to measure educational gain!

Rick Burgin

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Bonnie Odiorne
Date:  Wed Jan 13 12:10:28
EST 2010

I wouldn't
advocate using the GED as a testing instrument unless that was a student goal,
and they needed to obtain it for their futures. However, for those whose goal
it is to obtain the GED, it should be a measurable achievement, outcome, met
goal, whatever  you want to call it. I've heard of programs that used the
GED pre-tests (informally) in this way: as measures of progress and the ability
to pay for this costly time consuming and stressful test. Believe me, I
have now in post-secondary education many students with high school diplomas
who cannot function at a level sufficient to do much of anything. Hence the
need for ABE even  for HS graduates. Entering post-secondary education may
or may not be an appropriate goal, but the successful completion of a
legitimate job training program as a measurable outcome can and should be

Bonnie Odiorne

Post University, Waterbury, CT 

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Lynda Webb
Date:  Wed Jan 13 13:13:09
EST 2010

The largest
gap in testing is the state's minimum graduation standards and GED scores do
not meet the college readiness/entrance exam standards. If you have a chance to
look at Lexlie.com and compare the test's reading requirements, then the gaps are more clearly
defined. It seems all students, GED and high school graduates, who enter a
community college, need some remediation. The GED test as an indicator of
ability is not at fault, the whole assessment of college readiness is not

One in seven
students at a community college is a GED student. In Texas, GED graduates were
tracked to see if any GED student who enrolled into college placed outside of
developmental math--not one in 9 years. On the other side, 1/3 or about 1 in 6
high school graduates entering a community place in developmental math.
The GED exam is not the culprit of student's lack of college readiness. It is
an indicator of their lack of readiness.

Lynda Webb

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Bonnie Odiorne
Date:  Wed Jan 13 15:51:23
EST 2010

Lynda, Thank
you for clarifying that. In fact, the problem now appears much broader than
before regarding "entering post-secondary education" as a valid
educational aim. Where, if anywhere, is there a listing of college preparedness
standards. We would not be doing a service to our students to tell them they
are prepared when they are not; if the standards are not aligned, whether in
relation to the GED or not, we must try to target those skills most in need of
remediation before they enter post-secondary ed; either that, and this is not
under the auspices of WIA--though, to the extent that WIA-funded educated
students are referred to us, it is--post-secondary institutions must be ready
to realistically face this lack of alignment.

Bonnie Odiorne

Post University, Waterbury, CT

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Susan Kidd
Date:  Thu Jan 14 16:44:23
EST 2010


I don't know of a compilation of college preparedness standards, but here's a
link to the Washington State College Readiness Standards for Math: http://www.transitionmathproject.org/standards/index.asp .

Susan Kidd

State Board for Community & Technical Colleges

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  David Fowler
Date:  Wed Jan 13 10:06:14
EST 2010

Surely the
GED test itself...since it is longer than the other instruments (with more
questions in each area, standardized grading of essays, etc.) is the best
estimate of achievement that we use with the ABE students.

To then NOT use the GED test results, and to offer some test that means nothing
to the student other than to "help us" measures something other than
achievement...perhaps gratitude. :-)

The GED is our best measuring device, it is a stated goal of our programs, and
we're not using it to measure achievement????

Dave Fowler

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Kelly Okerlund
Date:  Tue Jan 12 10:45:59
EST 2010

In my
opinion one of the greatest challenges we face is the fact that only the
students who pretest at the High Adult Secondary level can be counted as having
obtained the GED credential.  Many of our students pretest at a lower
level (we use TABE) and, despite this are in fact ready to test – as shown by
their success on the Practice GED and their class work.  In the past when
we were able to use the Practice GED as a pretest, more of our students fell
into the High ASE category so it wasn’t as much of an issue.  This year,
however, we cannot use the Practice GED and it is really going to hurt
us.  To reiterate what someone else already posted, our main concern is
with student outcomes and perhaps we shouldn’t be concerned that these folks
don’t “count” for program accountability.  But the fact is that we are
being held accountable (as we should be) and I don’t think our programs should
be penalized for working with students at the lower levels and helping them to
pass the GED tests…we should instead be recognized for bringing these students
who enter at lower levels to the place where they can be successful on the GED

Kelly L.

Highlands Intermediate Unit 9

Smethport PA

Subject:  Assessment
From:  Carolyn Chelsvig
Date:  Wed Jan 13 11:44:27
EST 2010

While I agree
that assessments are very important and provide the instructors and students
with guidance to the students’ individual educational path, these assessments
really need to be utilized following the test makers recommended guidelines. I
know that the assessment

policies that states are now required to adhere to are completely different
than what the programs have been used to, i.e., 60 hours of instruction before
post testing, the GED is not the correct tool for assessing educational gain.
The GED test is the correct tool for assessing postsecondary preparedness and
workforce training goals.

Carolyn Chelsvig

Wyoming Community College Commission

Gain, NRS Functioning Levels, and Post-Testing

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Amy Peritsky
Date:  Mon Jan 11 11:07:05
EST 2010


Under the
current WIA regulations, accurately representing educational gain is a
challenge because of the NRS requirement that an educational functioning level
gain can only be counted if it is in the subject area with the lower pre-test
level or in literacy if the pre-test levels are identical. Pre-test scores may
vary by as little one point and both math and literacy skills are necessary for
success. If level increases in either subject could be counted as an
educational gain (rather than only in the lower one), we would more accurately
represent the progress that our students make.

It would
also help us more accurately represent educational gain if the NRS educational
functioning levels each represented two years of educational progress, rather
than the current system that defines level 4 (High Intermediate Basic
Education) as grades 6-8.9, when the other levels represent one year (level 6)
or two years (all other levels).

challenge we have with accountability for WIA is following up with students
once they leave our program. Our students move frequently and phone numbers are
often out of service when we call. This is especially challenging for “retained
employment” when we are attempting to contact them three quarters after they
exit the program. I would appreciate any ideas on how to contact a higher
percentage of our students.

Amy Peritsky

Greece Central School District
North Greece, NY

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  awayman1
Date:  Mon Jan 11 14:43:09
EST 2010

I agree
completely!  We face these same challenges.  It seems particularly unfair that
the middle level requires more improvement to "count" than other
levels.  It also takes more skills learning to advance from lower levels than
from higher ones because the students who score at the lower levels often don't
have the strategies to improve as rapidly as students who are already somewhat
successful. They must learn strategies before they can learn content.


Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Bonnie Odiorne
Date:  Mon Jan 11 15:23:43
EST 2010

The previous
subscriber said: “They must learn strategies before they can learn content.”

Amen to
that! I've found that in transitioning to post-secondary education also.

Bonnie Odiorne

Post University, Waterbury, CT

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Cindy Casler
Date:  Mon Jan 11 15:56:00
EST 2010

I also agree
with the remarks with the skills attainment in regard to literacy.  Many times
one or two points increase on testing is a major achievement and limiting how
success is measured gives an inaccurate report as to the success of students.
Many of the students we work with require intensive work to even move a couple
of levels and it seems that once the mid-level is achieved they are penalized
for not having the skills to move up rapidly.   In addition, we are also
finding it difficult with WIA accountability and youth.  This population moves
frequently and follow-up is difficult because of address and telephone number
changes.  Many times forwarding addresses do not exist and telephone numbers
are not an option.

Cindy Casler

Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Stephanie Moran
Date:  Mon Jan 11 16:48:20
EST 2010

Very true.
Many readers and math students who score in the 6-9 GE range actually function
mathematically at a lower level--they guesstimated well--rarely is the reverse
true, so it does often take much longer to bring these students up to speed in
math. Over the years and with lots of data crunching, we have found that some
students actually range up to two grade levels up or down from what their
assessment indicates (the TABE).


Subject:  WIA Assessment
From:  Marcia Cole
Date:  Thu Jan 14 13:53:09
EST 2010

Hello All,

We, as an Adult Literacy Center, serve a representative number of the lowest
literacy levels and therefore do not see the gains made with our learner
population that the state requires. Many students do not have the skills to
"enter employment, retain employment or improve employment" such as
full time homekeepers educating their infant children, or those that are
disabled. Neither will they "enroll in secondary education, obtain a GED,
or obtain a high school diploma" which are two accountability measures
that are given by our state.

Could an individual's own personal goals such as reading to their children or
attending parent teacher conferences for the first time be used as a measure by
which to judge progress being made rather than employment or schooling? Not
everyone is made to fit into those pegs, and we see such simple progress as
reading labels on supermarket shelves and writing a check for the first time as
progress made. Also, could it be feasible to assess those lowest learners by
the completion of the individual's book levels which contain a sequential
development with pre and post testing? This suggested method has been
documented over the past 20 years of operating our literacy center in Detroit, and is reported and validated by individual tutors.

It is our hope that the progress made through our own longstanding curriculum
published through New Reader's Press, a division of ProLiteracy, could be used
to gauge progress being made for those lowest literacy levels, as well as the
learner's own individual goals. Is this too simplistic to hope for? What are
your thoughts?

Marcia Cole

Adrian Rea Literacy Center

Subject:  GED tests, EFLs,
and post-testing
From:  Philip Less
Date:  Thu Jan 14 14:32:48
EST 2010

To Assistant
Secretary Dann-Messier: Thank you for the opportunity to provide our honest

To the discussion list: It has been an interesting week reading all of your
comments. I would like to add my two cents worth, looking at the issues from a
state-level perspective.

GED tests: In my opinion, the NRS should count the successful passing of the
GED tests as an educational gain (as well as a goal) regardless of the starting
level of the student. Yes, it is lengthy, costly, and stressful as one person
commented, but our students who already have a high school diploma are not
going to be interested in it, and they are not even eligible to take it. For
these students, the way to show gain will be to post test with TABE or CASAS
until they reach the ASE High level, and then do not need to post test anymore
because there is not a federal benchmark to meet at that level. For many of our
other students (although certainly not all! especially ESL students), obtaining
the GED credential is their primary goal for coming to adult education and
literacy programs! As mentioned in earlier comments in this discussion, our
students know which test is which -- and they give it their all when it comes
to the GED tests. We should reward them for their effort and achievement, no
matter which level they started at.

EFLs: In my opinion, the twelve ABE, ASE, and ESL Educational Functioning
Levels (EFL) should be changed. As many people have already commented, the EFLs
are not evenly distributed, and students at the bottom of a level have a much
harder time showing an educational gain than students at the top of a level.
(This does not take into effect the variability of test takers and the
seriousness of the test taking as mentioned elsewhere.) Why are EFLs two grade
level equivalents (or three for ABE Intermediate High) in the first place? All
other educational agencies and institutions consider an educational gain as
moving up ONE grade level. The NRS should have a fixed, scale score point
spread to determine a gain (as previously mentioned by Ajit Gopalakrishnan [see
thread entitled ‘Responses to Assessment Questions and Comments’), and my
suggestion is that this point spread should be the equivalent of ONE grade level, not two. This would more accurately reflect the educational gains made by all of
our students, regardless of their starting point within a level. (NOTE: I do
not know if our currently approved assessments will work this way along the
full range of the scale scores.) And one more logical suggestion: the gain
should be counted in any content area, whether it is in the students lowest EFL
or not. If we are going to reward our students and our programs, then why not
reward them for any content area gain.

Post testing: This is a difficult issue. The federal office had turned to the
test publishing companies for guidance and guidelines but ended up forcing the
states to follow strict requirements, instead of the more flexible
recommendations. 40 hours (CASAS) and 60 hours (TABE and BEST) were the RECOMMENDED
minimum number of hours a student should have before post testing, but these
have become fast and firm state policies, with very few and limited exceptions.
Some states have more exceptions than others which also tips the scales so that
we are no longer comparing apples with apples when looking at different state
results. As several others in this discussion have mentioned, our students are
sometimes ready to post test much sooner than 60 hours! And finally, why does a
student need to wait until he or she has 60 contact hours in the classroom or
lab to post test, when they should be, and hopefully are, practicing their
reading, math, and language skills outside the classroom for many hours that
are never counted in the system? I know that some of the test publishing
companies are looking at data on students who have successfully passed post
tests prior to 60 hours. They may make new recommendations to the federal
office. I would hope that we can trust the teachers to be the best judges of
when their students are ready to post test or not - regardless of how many
hours they have spent in class.

Dr. Philip Less

Arkansas Department of Career Education

Little Rock, Arkansas

following 5 subscribers sent posts in agreement or support in response to Dr.
Philip Less’ post above:

Marie Bruno,
Arkansas Literacy Councils, Inc., Little Rock, AR; Thu Jan 14 14:44:42 EST 2010

Amy Peritsky,
Greece Central School District, North Greece, NY; Thu Jan 14 18:20:34 EST 2010

Rethlake, Thu Jan 14 18:26:17 EST 2010

Anderson, Florida Department of Education, Fri Jan 15 15:26:58 EST 2010

[Awayman] ; Fri
Jan 15 11:53:25 EST 2010

Subject:  GED tests, EFLs,
and post-testing
From:  Bev Dye
Date:  Fri Jan 15 09:02:42
EST 2010

I'm just
curious...with CASAS, students only need 40 hours of instruction before
post-testing. With TABE, they need 60 hours of instruction. Are the students
who test with CASAS smarter than those who test with TABE, since they need 20
hours less instruction?

Bev Dye

Casper, WY

Subject:  GED tests, EFLs,
and post-testing
From:  Allison Pickering
Date:  Fri Jan 15 11:56:11
EST 2010

As has been
mentioned, each state creates its own assessment policy. CASAS recommends
80-100 hours of instruction between pre-and post-test. Some states or programs
test after 60, yours apparently after 40. Intensity and duration of instruction
are key, as is student effort. Are you seeing a lot of learner gains? If so,
are students being held the 1 hour time limit? Also, just curious about that

Allison Pickering

Escondido Adult School

Subject:  GED tests, EFLs,
and post-testing
From:  Bev Dye
Date:  Fri Jan 15 12:13:07
EST 2010

We use TABE
here in Wyoming, so actually we're 60 hours. We do see significant
gains...exceeding the performance measures in both ABE & ASE. I wrote a previous email stating some of our statistics re: the post-testing requirements. I
am opposed to requiring 60 hours before being allowed to posttest students, as
I agree with you in one aspect...intensity (and quality of instruction) is the
key. I disagree that duration has anything to do with progress. Not sure about
what you meant about 1 hour time limits (unless that's something CASAS requires
(I'm not real familiar with CASAS).

Thanks for your comments... :)

Bev Dye

Subject:  GED tests, EFLs,
and post-testing
From:  Laura J. Chardiet
Date:  Fri Jan 15 14:53:09
EST 2010

We see a
high percentage of gains for students who persist in the program. Yes, they are
held to the one hour time limit.

Laura J. Chardiet

Subject:  Comments on questions
From:  Gretchen Bitterlin
Date:  Thu Jan 14 15:47:30
EST 2010

What types
of accountability measures are needed to successfully gauge whether adult
learners are achieving their goals?  What are some solutions?

In California, we have a very efficient system of reporting learner gains through CASAS. Tests
used for ESL include the listening and reading tests. The problem is that the
tests don't measure the gains made in language development, which is the
primary focus of most ESL classes. Level completion statistics are based solely
on test score gains only. We have no
way to report the actual rates of level completion - number of those students
who move to the next level, based on listening, speaking, reading, and writing
skills. What we need are standardized level exit tests based on our content
standards that assess more than just reading and listening. Instead of
depending on pre and post tests, level completion rates should be based on
passing level completion tests. For this purpose WIA funds should support the
development of these tests. It would be nice to receive benchmarks for those
gains. Similarly in Citizenship classes, gains are only reported on reading
pre-post test results, not on students actually passing the Naturalization exam.
It would be nice to receive benchmarks for this outcome. Because the wait for
Naturalization interviews is shorter now, some students leave the class before
they have had a chance to take pre and post tests and so are not counted for
learning gains or goal attainment.

Another problem is the inability to report the gains of pre-literate or
non-literate students when they are too low to take a pre-test. Pre-post gains
are only measured from test scores. It would be great to earn learner gains for
those students who cannot test and then later can test. A score of
"0" needs to be a valid pre-test score.

As of now, ESL students that score over 236 on the CASAS tests are not counted
for learning gains. As we focus on transitioning our advanced ESL students to vocational training or post secondary education, it would be nice to receive
funding for learning gains made by these higher level students.

Gretchen Bitterlin

Mid City Campus

San Diego, CA

Subject:  Minimum number of
hours before post-testing
From:  Bev Dye
Date:  Thu Jan 14 17:45:11
EST 2010

First of
all, thank you for allowing us to have these discussions through this
format...it's interesting to see how other centers operate, and how they
perceive things.

I am writing to voice my concerns over the required minimum number of
instructional hours a student must put in before being allowed to posttest. We
use the TABE, therefore our students are required to put in 60 hours.

Many of our students are in situations where obtaining a GED is a priority, and
to hold them back just so they can obtain the number of hours required by the
federal government is ludicrous. Consider a few of the examples of students we
are currently serving at our ABE/GED Center:

  • Unemployed, seeking a job which requires a GED
  • Homeless
  • Court-ordered
  • Entering military

Our students don’t all fit into the square box that the folks who are making
these rules would like to put them. There are reasons why students left school
to begin with; replicating a situation they were previously in (i.e.,
traditional high schools where they failed in the first place) does no good for
anyone. Requiring someone to put in seat time does no good for anyone.
Educational gain has little to do with the number of hours a student spends in
a program. Students should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine
whether or not they are ready to posttest. Instructors who have worked with
students know when their students are ready. Our own ABE/GED Center instructors have a combined total of 92 years of
teaching experience in ABE. Teacher-made tests and chapter reviews, not seat
time, tell instructors when a student has mastered the material and is ready to
move on and posttest.

Many factors determine student progression rates: one-to-one or small groups
vs. classroom instruction; quality and intensity of instruction; intellectual
capability – some students learn more quickly than others; and motivation, just
to name a few.

Some students can move from one Educational Functioning Level (EFL) to the next
in 15 hours, while others might take 1,500 hours. A student who pretests with
the TABE at an NRS Low Adult Secondary Education level (NRS Level 5) with a
scaled score of 594 in math (10.9 grade equivalent using the TABE) only needs
to increase their scaled score by 1 point in order to be in the next level (595
= 11.0 grade equivalent). Do we really need to hold this student back for 60
hours before we posttest him? Chances are pretty good that he can increase his
score to a 12.9 (much less an 11.0 grade equivalent) in much less than 60 hours. A student who
pretests (TABE) at an NRS Beginning Basic Education level with a scaled score
of 368 in reading could take hundreds of hours to bump to the next level. In my
experience, students with difficulties in math can progress very quickly from one level to the next. Students with
difficulties in reading tend to take much longer. The policy of 60
instructional hours before being allowed to posttest takes none of these
factors into consideration.

What curriculum is used to determine that 60 (or 50 or 30) hours is the number
at which students can move from one NRS level to the next? We would like to see
the research that proves a student must have 60 hours of instruction before
showing educational gains; our center’s federal tables on educational gain show
otherwise! We have been operating for years with no minimum hours required between a pre- and a posttest. We also
exceed the state’s federal Negotiated Performance Levels for both ABE and Adult
Secondary Education (ASE).

A research article, “Federal Accountability System Fuels the Decline of the
Adult Education & Literacy System of the United States” written in 2003 by
Thomas G. Sticht, an International Consultant in Adult Education, compares
attendance and progress of Wyoming ABE programs with Florida ABE programs.
After reading the article, we certainly question why OVAE would mandate all
students to put in the same number of instructional hours before being allowed
to post-test.

Some centers offer very limited hours of instruction during a program year.
Many centers are unable to offer 60 hours of classroom instruction, even during
a full program year. As you may know, Wyoming is a very rural state; many, if
not most, sites instruct on a part-time basis. ABE/GED instruction is offered
at detention and treatment centers, again on a very part-time basis. How will
students be able to access 60 hours of instruction when it isn’t even available
to them during a year’s time?

Every center in Wyoming has experienced federal and state budget cuts this
year. How can we offer any more instruction while we are already understaffed?
Our facilities are bursting at the seams with students. Where are we supposed
to put students who need to attend all those extra hours?

OVAE states that centers must follow test publisher guidelines. CTB McGraw-Hill, the publisher of TABE, states on its website (under Frequently Asked Questions
on the TABE): “There is no recommended minimum number of hours of instruction
that must occur if a different form or different level of the TABE pre-test is administered as a post-test.”
We have operated under these guidelines for years, and have yet to see a
revised TABE publisher’s manual that states post-testing should occur only
after 60 hours. OVAE, however, insists that CTB McGraw-Hill requires 60 hours
before students be allowed to posttest.

It should be noted that Wyoming’s assessment policy allows for a limited number
of students to posttest before 60 hours of instruction; however, these exceptions
are only allowable for 20% of the students whose pretest places them at one of
the 2 highest Educational Functioning Levels (i.e., ASE Low and ASE High). ABE students (EFL levels 1 – 4) are never allowed to posttest before 60 hours
(according to the policy).

Our ABE/GED Center compared statistics for Table 4b (which tallies educational
gain for students who have been both pre-and post-tested), on students who had
more than 12 hours of attendance with students who had more than 60 hours of
attendance. Students who were in the program for 60 or more hours made less
educational gain than students who had less than 60
hours. Generally, students who spend more than 60 hours in the program are the
students who take longer to progress (i.e., students with learning
disabilities, slower learners, students with ADHD, etc.). In 2008-2009, our
center had 328 ABE/GED students who were both pre- and
post-tested. There were only 33 students who had greater than 60 hours. A total
of 173 of our ABE/GED students earned their GED in 2008-2009. Of the 173 GED
graduates: 165 (95%) earned a GED with under 60 hours of instruction; only 8
(5%) earned a GED with 60 or more hours of instruction.

We set high standards for our students, but there are times when it is not realistic
for students to spend 60 hours in a program. Seat time does not put food on the
table! The policy requiring all students to put in the same number of hours
before being post-tested needs to be

Thanks again for listening.

Bev Dye

Subject:  Minimum number of
hours before post-testing
From:  Jim Schneider
Date:  Fri Jan 15 08:56:23
EST 2010

I am in 100%
agreement with the posting of Bev Dye of Wyoming. Standardization is all well
and good assuming that the playing field is level and balanced. Unfortunately,
across the country there is tremendous disparity in funding, and access to
adult literacy programming due to the rural nature and/or lack of

I have made the assumption that the current NRS is an attempt to apply similar
psychometric standards of NCLB to the adult literacy programming. It was a good
start, but having lived with it for the past 12 years it is very apparent that
it needs significant tweaking to provide a realistic perspective of the impact
of our programs and for programs to be able to report and get credit for the
many lives they have improved.

Another discouraging facet of NRS came to light yesterday, as we were finishing
up the updates for the 176 GED graduates in our center between July through
December. Twenty-six (15%) of these students were enrolled in the 2008-2009
program year and started their testing, but finished up in July and August of
the 2009-2010 program year without having attended beyond taking their GED test
and were therefore, not re-enrolled in the program. As a result, unless they
had post-tested and gained a level in the spring, AND attended 60 hours our
program got nothing for the efforts that were made not only to assist them in
earning their GED, but also in transitioning many of them to college. Where is
the rationality in this reality that is but one of dozens of ways that the
current NRS is stacked against learners and the programs that are doing all
they can to assist them in fulfilling their goals.

Thanks again for providing this opportunity to share our perspectives on this
topic. I am hopeful that Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier was very recently one
of us, and that these comments will serve a greater purpose than therapeutic
venting from the field.


Jim Schneider

Davenport, IA

Subject:  Minimum number of
hours before post-testing
From:  Jean Light Kinyon
Date:  Fri Jan 15 13:01:38
EST 2010

I am in 100%
agreement with the postings of Bev Dye and Jim Schneider. "The current NRS
is stacked against learners and the programs that are doing all they can to
assist them in fulfilling their goals." *We* know that we are making a
difference in our student's lives and in our communities; but given the current
NRS rules and regulations for assessing and reporting our student successes, we
are unable to show accurately just what a difference we *are* making. This can
be very discouraging for those of us who work hard to see that our students and
our programs succeed.

Jean Light Kinyon

Rockingham County Literacy Project

Eden, NC