TASC Reading Tips: Citing Evidence

iStock_18120177_837x563pxWhile you’re reading for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™, you should ask yourself: Why am I reading?

Often for high school equivalency tests, you are reading to answer specific questions or to construct an argument. If it’s the latter, you need to know while you read because you have to keep your eyes open for important information and good quotations that can support your argument. This is an important reading study tip that you should put to practice [http://www.tasctest.com/practice-items-for-test-takers.html] while you’re preparing to take the TASC reading test.

According to the librarians at UCLA,citing your sources is important because it shows “that you have sought out and considered a variety of viewpoints.” It is also standard practice by scholars and students. So, when you cite, you engage in an academic conversation in which you respond with, agree with, add onto, or argue against a published opinion. Best of all, citing helps you avoid plagiarizing, which is a serious crime.

Citing can also benefit you, because it makes you more authoritative. There are certain times you should cite a source, including when:

  • Analyzing or interpreting
  • Exact wording is necessary
  • Authority lends weight to your argument
  • The speaker’s voice is important
  • Language is especially vivid or expressive

To cite, you should include the exact words an author has written in quotation marks. You should also include the author (which can be either a person or an organization), the title of the publication, and the year it was published. There are various methods of citation, which you can use in argumentative essays. In your written response for the TASC test, you can be less formal however, and simply include all of the information available to you.

Citing is one of the skills that is highly emphasized  for the reading section. Test takers are expected to be able to cite strong and thorough textual evidence. This evidence helps you support your analysis of what the text says explicitly. It also helps you draw inferences and conclusions from the text. This means, as a reader, you can determine where the text is clear and where the text is more uncertain — or unconvincing.

Start practicing these TASC test citation tips today. You might not have to actually write an argument in your reading section, but knowing how to cite means that you know what to look for in the text. Often, questions on the TASC test reading section focus on meaning, inference, authority, and persuasion — all things that you would look to cite if you were writing about a text.

New York State to Host Events to Supercharge Online High School Equivalency Testing with the TASC Test

iStock_7831709_837x837pxDo you live in New York and want to pursue your high school equivalency? Well, we are pleased to announce that three testing centers across New York State will host a number of events throughout the month of August into September to promote online testing sessions for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ – the high school equivalency assessment test created by CTB. The online test sessions are designed to accommodate and supercharge the needs of working individuals who require conveniently located test centers with flexible testing hours. The test dates and sites hosting events are:

 Flushing Adult Learning Center (Aug. 11 – Sept. 12; 41-17 Main Street, Flushing, N.Y.)

 Long Island City Adult Learning Center (Aug. 11 – Sept. 12; 37-44 21st Street, Long Island City, N.Y.)

 Madison Oneida BOCES Rome ACCESS Site (Aug. 11 – Sept. 12; 266-268 West Dominick Street, Rome, N.Y.)

 Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Site (Aug. 13 – Aug. 26; 4500 Crown Road, Liverpool, N.Y.)

Based on the state’s grandfathering program, test takers who have completed only certain parts of the 2002 series GED® test are now eligible to earn their high school equivalency credential by taking the TASC test. This enables test takers to combine scores earned now with test results taken in the past to qualify to earn a diploma. In addition, the state also waived the 60-day retest rule in participating areas, enabling more test takers to earn their credential before the end of summer. Potential test takers who want to earn a high school equivalency diploma before the end of the summer are encouraged to sign up immediately, as space is limited.

“We are excited to see a growing number of test takers registering for the online TASC test, an accessible and affordable high school equivalency exam that is not only beneficial to adult learners, but also makes a positive impact to our national economy and global competitiveness,” said Ellen Haley, president of McGraw-Hill Education CTB. “McGraw-Hill Education CTB has a long track record of measuring the educational achievements of adult learners and serving the needs of professionals dedicated to adult education. We look forward to working with New York State and other states across the country to promote and deliver the TASC test to make sure everyone who needs an alternative high school diploma has the opportunity to earn it.”

The TASC test assesses English language arts (including Reading and Writing), Math, Science, and Social Studies. It is available in English and Spanish and in large print, Braille and audio versions. The test is offered as a paper-and-pencil exam as well as online, providing flexibility for test takers and allowing states to phase in computer-based testing at a pace that meets their students’ needs. The TASC test also allows New York State to follow the same secure processes for administering the test that they already have in place.

More information on the TASC test can be found at TASCTest.com or on Twitter at @theTASCTest.

TASC Test Tips for Parents

iStock_6328186_837x563If you are the parent of a child who has decided that the traditional high school setting is not for them, consider talking to him or her about completing a high school equivalency. A high school equivalency can open doors for your student. It can enable him or her to continue education at the college level, increasing your child’s competitiveness in the job market.

Besides the fact that most states require test takers under the age of 18 to have the written approval of a parent or guardian to take a high school equivalency test, it might feel like there isn’t much you can do for your child.

At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we know that studying can be stressful. We want you and your child to experience little frustration and focus on the study skills that work best for you. We’ve collected a variety of study tips here for parents to help their children be more efficient and more effective when they sit down to study for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ — no matter what kind of learner your child is.

As you encourage healthy study habits and learning, remember that the choice is ultimately up to your child. Open doors for success, and give your test taker the independence she needs to make the right choices:

1. Make a Schedule

The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers wonderful tips that work for all students — not just those with learning disabilities or IEPs. Our favorite is their suggestion to make a schedule.

If your child is working part-time, a schedule is a great way to block out time for studying. At first, your child might feel like it will be impossible to find the time to study for all subject areas. However, if you sit down together and plan exactly when the two of you can study together, it will make the goals are more achievable.

Be realistic about how long it will take to study, and how much you can achieve in a given amount of time.

2. Make a Checklist

Be specific, and make a checklist for every subject area of the TASC test. Checklists work well with schedules, because you can dedicate a specific amount of time to each item on your list.

3. Create a Study Space

Enhanced Learning Educational Services suggests having an established area for studying. Whether it’s a desk, in the bedroom, or an office in your home, having a specific space will help your child get in the right mindset to learn.

Be sure these spaces are organized so your student has all the right resources they need within reach.

4. Know Your Resources

Robbie Fanning of the non-profit education organization Great! Schools suggests taking advantage of technology. The TASC test offers great online resources, such as practice tests, which are free to access. Not only will these sample tests gauge how much your test taker knows, but they will also help him become more familiar with the test – and more confident when it’s time to take the test.

If your son or daughter works better in a group environment, consider prep classes. Encourage finding other students in the area who are preparing for the TASC test, and support them in forming a study group.

5. Take Breaks

If you’ve scheduled a long block of time for studying, be sure you take a break or two. Don’t push too far — too much studying can cause frustration, and frustration can shut down the learning process.

Breaks are also great rewards, which can motivate your test taker to work harder or focus better.

6. Be Empathetic

Working with your child may open your eyes to any learning struggles. Be understanding, and empathetic. When frustrated, have your student take a short break. Step back and try again. You want encourage confidence.

7. Give Praise

It may seem simple, but telling test takers, “Good job,” or, “I appreciate how hard you’re working,” can have a dramatic impact on their attitude towards learning and you. Remind them that they can do it, and that they can be successful.

The TASC test is here to help students who didn’t graduate high school make long-term improvements in their educations and their careers. Remind them that earning their high school equivalency has the potential to change their lives — and that you’re proud of them just for trying.

Real TASC Talk: Donald Curry Vanderwoude Jr’s Success Story

This summer, we’ve heard from dozens of students, excited to share their incredible news: They took the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™and they passed! Today, we’re happy to introduce, Donald Curry Vanderwoude Jr., another student whose motivation for pursuing his high school equivalency inspires us and others who are ready to take the next step in their lives.

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Donald Curry Vanderwoude Jr. IVScreen Shot 2014-08-25 at 10.05.23 AM

From Buffalo, NY.

  1. Prior to taking the TASC test, what was the highest grade level you completed (and how long ago was it?)

The highest grade I completed was 11th grade and that was 10 years ago.

  1. What’s your inspiration for pursuing your high school equivalency?

My inspiration for pursuing my high school equivalency was to make my father proud and show him that no matter what, if you work hard and try, there is no obstacle you can’t climb.

  1. Where did you take the TASC test?

I took the TASC test at the Adult Learning Center in Buffalo, NY.

  1. How did you prepare for the TASC test? How did the study materials help you?

I prepared for the TASC test by taking a [high school equivalency]class. The teacher’s name was Shara Sokody. I would not have gotten my high school equivalency if not for her great teaching methods. She broke down the math [subjects], such as fraction/integers and number of operations, which helped me prepare and study.

  1. Which TASC test sections or subjects did you find to be the easiest and also most challenging?

The easiest for me was the Social Studies and Science. The most challenging for me was the math and writing.

  1. How do you feel now that you took the TASC test and received your high school equivalency?

Now that I have taken the TASC test and received my high school equivalency, I feel that many doors will open for me, like getting into college!

  1. What is your number one piece of advice or tip for all TASC test takers?

My number one piece of advice is to never give up. If you don’t succeed once, try and try again!

What’s your TASC test success story? We want to hear from you! Send us a private message on Facebook and we’ll respond back with a few questions about your experience with the #TASCTest.

The TASC Test for Immigrant and ESL Students

¿Está interesado en obtener un título?

Are you interested in earning your degree?

TASC-Homework-036_squareIf you are new to the United States, you might not yet know that you need a high school diploma — or the equivalent — to earn a post-secondary degree. For English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) learners or migrant students, repeating or finishing your secondary education in a different language can seem daunting.

Consider completing your high school equivalency instead. High school equivalency programs in the United States help migratory and seasonal farmworkers, and children of these workers, who are 16 years of age or older and not currently enrolled in a secondary school. According to the U. S. Department of Education, more than 7,000 students participate in these programs annually.

By taking a high school equivalency test like the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™, you can complete your high school equivalency program — and prepare yourself for the more demanding coursework of the college level or make yourself more competitive on the job market without having to repeat any of your secondary education in the United States.

At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we’ve designed a test that can help students native to the United States and students who are new to our country. Currently, we have tests and practice items available in Spanish for ESL students and migrant students. If you’re in the process of learning English, you may feel that you will be more successful taking the TASC test in your native language. We understand, and we want you to be successful.

Check out our Practice Items in Spanish, and start preparing for your high school equivalency today:

Life Sciences Study Tips: Cell Structure

When it comes to the Science portion of the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™, you need a firm grasp on cell structure. Cells are the starting point of all living things on Earth — making them essential to your understanding of life science. Dr. Katherine Harris of Hartnell College outlines the basics of cell theory:

  1. All living things are composed of cells.
  2. All cells arise from preexisting cells through cell division.
  3. Cells contain hereditary materials, which they pass on to daughter cells during cell division.
  4. The chemical composition of all cells is quite similar.
  5. The metabolic processes associated with life occur within cells.

There are two major types of cells: prokaryotic and eukaryotic. But there are many types of cells within these two categories, including different types of plant cells, animal cells, and human cells. These cells have lots of things in common, but their differences are what lead to the differences in plants and in animals — and in us. Cells are unique to each type of organism.

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Common features of all cells include:

  • Cytoplasm: the cytosol and all the organelles (except for the nucleus)
  • Cytosol: a jelly-like fluid that supports organelles and other cellular components, and that is located inside the plasma membrane
  • DNA: the genetic material that contains one or more chromosomes
  • Nucleus: a chamber specialized in DNA functions
  • Organelles: a general term for any organized or specialized structures within the cell
  • Plasma membrane: a selective barrier that encloses the cell. In plant cells, this contains the cell wall. (The cell wall is made of cellulose, and is found only in plant cells.)
  • Ribosomes: the organelles where protein synthesis takes place

Each piece of the cell works independently and together to fulfill the cell’s function and keep the cell healthy.

There are other important terms to know when it comes to cell structure. These terms are particular to specific kinds of cells, and are not found in all cells. These terms include:

  • Centrioles: Composed of microtubules, which it anchors and assembles. Often, centrioles occur in pairs.
  • Golgi Apparatus: Stacks of flattened vesicles that package proteins for export and forms secretory vesicles
  • Lysosome: Contains hydrolytic digestive enzymes, which break down macromolecules and cell debris
  • Mitochondrion: Bacteria-like element with double membrane that carries out cellular respiration and produces ATP
  • Rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER): Contains ribosomes and is responsible for protein synthesis
  • Smooth endoplasmic reticulum (ER): Lacks ribosomes and is responsible for the synthesis of lipids
  • Vesicle: A membrane-bound sac, which stores and transports substances

There are a lot of terms associated with cell structure – and with life science in general. To keep them straight, we recommend making flashcards. Flashcards are one of the best science study tools. You can use index cards or construction paper to create flashcards to help you learn and memorize these important terms. There are also a variety of apps that can help you create digital flashcards.

Don’t simply work through the flashcards over and over again, though. You can also print out a picture of an animal or plant cell — like the one we have featured here — and use your flashcards to label the picture. This simple activity is like an interactive diagram that will help you learn and visualize each piece of the cell.

Why States Are Switching to the TASC Test

iStock_000017670573_837x837States across the nation are starting to consider their options. With more choices of high school equivalency exams than ever, local test centers have begun to debate whether or not the long-relied-upon GED® test is still the best option for their students.

According to Ashley A. Smith of USA Today, the new GED (which was introduced in the beginning of 2014) is seeing significantly fewer students this year. For example, in Lee County in southwest Florida, only 440 people had taken the exam by May 2014 — compared to the 4,878 people who took the high school equivalency exam last year. If this trend continues, the county will have about three-quarters fewer GED test takers this year.

Where are the test takers going?

The lack of GED test takers does not mean that people are abandoning taking high school equivalency tests. Rather, it means that states have started offering alternative tests for their students.

States such as California, Nevada, New Jersey, and Wyoming allow students to choose among high school equivalency exams.

Some states, however, have dropped the GED test completely. Indiana, New York, and West Virginia now offer the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ as their state’s high school equivalency test.

Why are test takers switching to the TASC test?

More and more test takers are choosing the TASC test to complete their high school equivalency. Discover a few of their motivations:

  • Expense: The TASC test can cost significantly less than other high school equivalency tests giving you a lot more for your dollar, with two free retakes within the first year of registration.
  • Lower pass rates: In the article mentioned earlier, Smith notes the GED test is yielding lower passing rates.

As students continue to switch to other high school equivalency exams, like the TASC test, they’re finding that these tests are just as powerful as the new GED test with the added advantages discussed here — and others. For example, the TASC test is also aligned with College and Career Readiness Standards. Discover more about each exam, and decide which one is right for you.

What is Adult Literacy and How Can We Support It?

000023628349_837x563In 1988, the United States Congress asked the Department of Education to lead a national literacy survey of American adults. Known as the National Adult Literacy Survey, according to the report “it was the first study to provide accurate and detailed information on the skills of the adult population as a whole.”

This study aligns with many other recent studies regarding the state of our nation’s educational practices, including A Nation at Risk, The Bottom Line, and Workforce 2000, for example. Understand the importance of research like this and the National Adult Literacy Survey:

What is Adult Literacy?

Literacy has been defined in a variety of ways over the course of time. As educator Phil Rabinowitz reports on his blog Community Tool Box, literacy was originally understood in the nineteenth century to be the ability to write your own name.

Today, educators more often define literacy according to a variety of areas and components. Generally, these areas include:

  • Reading: the ability to read at a particular grade level
  • Writing: the ability to write clearly and accurately
  • Math: the ability to perform basic mathematical operations
  • Cultural literacy: the ability to understand and discuss American culture

How Can We Support It?

The results of the National Adult Literacy Survey, as well as the other studies, are that the United State’s current systems of education and training are insufficient. There is not enough support for individuals, economic productivity, or competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The study focused on many different aspects of literacy, including:

  • Literacy in the workforce
  • Literacy and education
  • Literacy among older adults
  • Literacy in the prison population
  • Literacy and cultural diversity
  • Literacy practices

Adult students who wish to work on their literacy in these areas should consider starting by earning their high school equivalency. Completing literacy classes and studying for your high school equivalency can introduce you to basic reading and writing skills that can support the primary focus of adult literacy. Additionally, math study skills can develop math literacy.

By developing these skills, you can begin to read more, and — if you are interested in working on your cultural literacy — you can begin expanding your knowledge in the areas of American history, science, and literature. Earning your high school equivalency opens the door to literacy as you build your educational and career skillsets.

Real Talk: Jennifer Walters’ TASC Test Success Story

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.00.18 AMAt CTB/McGraw-Hill, we believe that everyone deserves a chance to move forward in life. We feel that everyone has the right to earn a high school diploma or college degree . Every day, we’re hearing from more adult learners that have chosen the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ and passed. Their stories are inspirational, motivational, and real. As test taker Mike Puccio said, “The main reason [I decided to get my diploma] was actually the possibility that my child would follow my footprints by one day not wanting to continue his education. I now would have a chance at convincing him that it is important and it’s never too late!” 

Mike is not alone in his success. Others have come forward with their success stories as well. For Jennifer Walters, earning her high school equivalency meant getting a better job and showing her children the importance of education. Here is Jennifer’s story:

  1. What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Jennifer Walters. I am 34 and from Brooklyn, New York.  

  1. Prior to taking the TASC test, what was the highest grade level you completed (and how long ago was it?)

I completed the 11th grade prior to taking the TASC test, and that was in 1998.

  1. What made you decide to earn your high school equivalency?

I decided to get my high school equivalency so that I can get a better job, and so that I can show my kids that when they grow up, education is very important.

  1. Why did you choose the TASC test?

I chose the TASC test because I procrastinated for so long on taking the GED® test, and I was afraid of failure. I thought I wasn’t ready. Then, in January 2014, New York State changed to the TASC test. So I took it and passed on the first try!

  1. How did you prepare for the TASC test?

I always read a lot. I tried studying for the TASC test online and also used different study books.

  1. Where did you take the TASC test?

I took the TASC test at a testing center. 

  1. How long did it take you to complete the entire TASC test?

I completed the test in the time allowed. 

  1. Which sections or subjects did you find to be the easiest, which did you find themost challenging?

The easiest subject to me was Science, and the most difficult was Math.

  1. How long did it take you to get your results and how did you access them? Were you pleased with the results?

I took the test on June 2nd, 2014, and I kept checking online for my results. I got my results back on July 2nd. I received my high school equivalency a week later and was extremely pleased with the results.

      10.  What is your best piece of advice or tip for all TASC test takers?

I would advise anyone who is, or wants, to take the TASC test to take it, and don’t doubt yourself! Also,do a lot of reading—it helps a lot, and be mindful of misspelled words. But do not over think the writing part – it’s not as hard as it sounds!

What’s your TASC test success story? We want to hear from you! Send us a private message on Facebook  and we’ll respond back with a few questions about your experience!

The Major Changes in Adult Education

Multi ethnic group of studentsIn recent years, education institutions have become increasingly flexible. The reason? Nontraditional students.

Now more than ever, higher education schools have been focused on working with adult students and other nontraditional students who did not transition directly from high school to college. This has made programs reconsider their goals, become more flexible, and focus more on training and evaluating students in terms of real-life skills.

You might have already discovered some of the changes made in adult education when you read our post on A Brief History of Adult Education. Learn about these changes and others made by institutions and policymakers in the last few decades:

  • 1999:  Federal funding for adult education increases to more than $365 million. Enrollment in adult education programs continues to grow.
  • Early 2000s: Washington State starts the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program. The state program focuses on what employers need employees to know. It also teaches adult students those skills so they can be more competitive in the job market.
  • 2008: The Washington Post reports that several studies have noticed a crucial link between adult education and children’s success in school. The Post calls for immediate reform to improve the education and lives of adults and children.
  • 2009: State leaders begin to develop new national education standards. These include College and Career Readiness Standards, which were specifically written to help organizations and high school equivalency programs focus on the needs of adult learners returning to education or entering the job market.
  • 2010: In the state of Michigan, adults without high school credentials make up close to 11 percent of the working-age population, according to reporter Matthew Miller. [] Adult education instructors focus on a reform program, called No Worker Left Behind: Everybody In, which focuses not only on helping adult students earn their high school equivalencies but also on helping students receive the job training they need to succeed in the competitive job market.
  • 2011: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) launches American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen! [http://www.americangraduate.org.  The initiative focuses on helping communities across the United States address the challenge of keeping young adults in high school until graduation. It also focuses on helping states across the nation prepare young adult students for post-secondary and career success. Since the campaign began, they’ve seen marked success.
  • 2013: A study conducted in Hartford, Connecticut focuses on adult education reform. Adult education programs in Connecticut are underfunded. The study found that 30.2 percent of adults in Hartford do not have a high school diploma, and 15.2 percent do not speak English At the time of the study, 55 percent of adult education students were also unemployed — and their primary reason for entering programs was to gain the skills they needed to find and keep jobs. The study used these results to consult with local business leaders and improve the curriculum for adult education programs in the area.
  • 2014: New high school equivalency exams  are introduced. Exams such as the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ work on measuring a student’s ability to apply skills in real-life situations rather than measuring “intelligence.”

Notice that many of the reforms happening at the state level are also happening at the national level. Adult education programs at all levels are concerned with making their curriculums more about job opportunities and less about learning facts. Adult education is starting to emphasize real-life skills. If you are considering earning your high school equivalency, start by looking for tests that measure your abilities rather than your memory.

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