Literacy isn’t just about becoming a proficient reader. When it comes to teaching literacy, it’s all about improving the livelihood of adult learners. At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we believe that students who decide to improve their literacy are students who are also deciding to become better workers, family members, and citizens.
Literacy is an essential part of Adult Basic Education (ABE) – it helps students become better at math and problem-solving as well as reading and writing. Because of this, literacy classes are essential to adult education. ABE literacy classes are designed to help students improve basic reading, writing, and math skills. All types of students enroll in these classes. Young adults and adult learners of all ages can be found in an ABE literacy classroom. Often, students take these classes to prepare for high school equivalency classes. If you are a student who is planning on earning your high school equivalency but you’re not sure where you should start when it comes to studying, you should consider starting with a literacy class.
According to literacy educator Phil Rabinowitz, adult literacy classes often focus on:
- Building on what students already know
- Connecting real-life experiences with what students are learning in the classroom
- Using academic skills to make everyday tasks easier
- Building critical, analytical, and creative thinking skills
- Setting short-term and long-term goals, and creating plans to meet those goals
- Working together as a group to teach and support one another
- Developing abstract reasoning
- Encouraging students to work through new concepts
Whether you’re a student or an educator, it’s important to note that literacy classes will — and should — vary, depending on the group of students you’re working with. Learners need to develop different skills, and classes will focus on the skills that the group needs as a whole.
If you’re a student, consider talking to the teacher of a particular class when you’re deciding which literacy class you want to sign up for. Talking to the teacher can give you some hints about what class will be like and what the focus might be.
At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we have focused on four areas of social studies. These four areas are directly connected to the national standards, and to some of the most important national resources we have, including: the National Center for History in the School, the National Standards for History Basic Edition, and the Center for Civic Education – just to name a few.
Focusing on these four areas can help you prepare for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™. Read about the areas in general below, and take a closer look at the TASC Test social studies areas of high emphasis that we’ve highlighted.
United States history starts with the colonial era (when the first colonies were founded) to present day. Pay special attention to the following periods, and be sure you can answer these important questions:
Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877):
- What caused the Civil War?
- What were the major events and battles of the Civil War?
- How did the war affect the American people?
- How was Reconstruction successful? How was reconstruction unsuccessful?
The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945):
- What was the Great Depression?
- What was the New Deal? How did the New Deal impact the American people?
- What caused World War II? How did the US enter into the war?
- How did people feel about the war at home and abroad?
Post-War Era (1945-1970s):
- What happened in the US after World War II ended?
- How did the economic boom that followed the war impact the American People? What was the Cold War?
- How did conflicts in Korea and Vietnam impact issues at home and abroad?
- What were the important changes in domestic policies after World War II?
- How did civil liberties change in America after the World Wars (in regards to both racial equality and gender equality)?
Civics and Government
Civics refers to the study of citizen rights. It also deals with a citizen’s duties to his or her society. Focus on these areas:
- American Democracy and the Foundations of the American Political System: Specifically, you should be able to discuss the U.S. Constitution, and how it represents the purposes and values of the nation. Be able to discuss the structure of the government at the local, state, and national levels. Lastly, be able to talk about “liberal democracy” — how are these terms defined, and how are they represented in American society?
- Civic Life, Politics, and Government: You should be able to talk about the different types of limited and unlimited governments. This means you can talk about how these systems work, how they share power, and what the advantages (and disadvantages) are of these different types of government. Be able to talk about civic life, politics, and the government in general.
Economics is the branch of study that’s concerned with how money is created, how it is used, and how it is shared or transferred to others. Start with these high emphasis topics:
- Government and Economics: There are important connections between the government and the economy. You’ll need to be able to talk about public policies, and about the benefits of public trading and the costs. Also be able to answer questions about inflation, unemployment, and the Federal Reserve System.
- Microeconomics: This is a type of economics that focuses only on single factors, and how those factors impact individuals. You should be able to talk about the market in general, and how people interact with the market as buyers and sellers. Also be able to answer questions about competition, products, and prices.
World History refers to the important events that have happened in countries other than the United States. These countries include: the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, and the other major countries of the East such as China, Japan, and India. We place a medium emphasis on this area.
Pay close attention to these periods, and be able to answer most of these questions:
Age of Revolutions (1750-1914):
- What countries experienced political revolutions during these years?
- What was the agricultural revolution?
- What was the industrial revolution?
- What caused so many countries to experience these different types of revolutions during the late 18th and early 19th centuries? What were the consequences?
- What were some of the broad changes after these revolutions in terms of: nationalism, social reform, militaries, and economics?
A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement (1900-1945):
- What caused World War I? What were the global consequences of World War I?
- How did countries attempt to find peace and stability in the 1920s and 1930s?
- What caused World War II? What were the global consequences?
Promises and Paradoxes of the 20th Century (1945-Today):
- How did post-World War II reconstruction occur?
- What new international power relations were created after World War II?
- How did World War II impact colonial empires?
- How is the world more interdependent now, in terms of: community, stability, and peace?
Today, adult education is a mission. We work hard to reach adult students, to improve their lives through education, and to help them succeed. It’s not always easy, especially when adults are juggling work schedules, wait lists for class, and family demands.
But there was a time when education wasn’t even available to adult learners. For hundreds of years, resources were only directed towards childhood education. Take a look at our brief history of adult education to see how things have continued to improve for adult learners. With an upward trend like this, we at McGraw-Hill Education CTB know that our adult students have the best advantages to date – and we love helping them succeed.
• 1700s: Religious instruction and vocational apprenticeships are the major forms of education for both young adults and adults.
• 1731: Benjamin Franklin establishes the first “subscription” library. Franklin also created a club called the “Junto,” which allowed members to study and discuss intellectual concerns. This focus on discussion and reading allowed these institutions to play a role in adult education. Later, the club provided basic literacy instruction to encouraged self-improvement.
• 1777: George Washington directs chaplains to teach his soldiers at Valley Forge basic literacy skills so he can communicate with them in writing.
• 1800s: There’s a huge increase in written publications, including fiction and nonfiction, and in reading throughout society. Literacy increases as a consequence of this increase in writing.
• 1830s: Horace Mann [http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/horace.html] creates the common school movement. His mission was to make sure every child could receive a basic education. This helped improve education in general. More children were educated, and overtime this led to more educated adults.
• 1800s: A large number of voluntary associations, all promoting education activities for children and adults, are formed. These include: YMCA, YWCA, the National Teachers Association, the American Library Association, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
• 1860s: The Adult Education and Literacy System becomes a federal institution. It focuses on improving adult literacy education.
• 1900s: The National Education Association, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Ford Foundation form associations for education and training professionals in the field of adult education. These organizations work to establish the profession of adult education, conduct research, and provide guidance to educators. They become advocates for adult education policies at the state and federal level.
• 1917: The U.S. Army develops the first group-administered, standardized tests to test the “intelligence” of people with varying levels of literacy.
• 1930s: The New Deal includes programs to help educate adults who fell on hard times due to the Great Depression.
• 1964: The Economic Opportunity Act passes. This act provided federal laws and funding for adult basic education, specifically for students 18 years old or older.
• 1966: The Adult Education Act passes, and makes adult education a priority of the U.S. Department of Education (rather than a poverty program).
• 1980s: Adult illiteracy becomes a national priority.
• 1983: A Nation at Risk is published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. It called for major changes in U.S. schools, districts, and states.
• 1991: The National Literacy Act is passed. It focuses on literacy as a means of solving many social problems, and to improve the well-being of Americans in general.
• 1999: Federal funding for adult education increased to more than $365 million. Enrollment in adult education programs continues to grow, too.
• Early 2000s: Washington State starts the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program. The program focuses on what employers need employees to know, and teaching adult students those skills so they can be more competitive in the job market. Since then, several states have adopted similar programs.
• 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.
• 2014: New high school equivalency exams are introduced. Exams such as the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ focus on measuring a student’s ability to apply skills in real-life situations rather than measuring “intelligence.”
At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we’ve aligned the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This means that our test not only aligns with most state-approved standards, but is also with College and Career Readiness standards. Our test specifically includes a focus on these four areas of science: Physical, Life, Earth, and Space.
Take a closer look at these four areas, and start developing your science expertise:
Life Science is one of our high emphasis focuses for the TASC test Science assessment. It refers to the study of living organisms, their life processes, and how those organisms relate to each other. When you’re studying, focus on:
- Structures and Processes: Specifically, look at cells. Cells are the smallest components of living organisms. There are different types, and each has particular functions that it performs.
- Ecosystems: An ecosystem refers to the relationships between living organisms within an individual setting. For example, in a pond ecosystem fish feed on insects, birds feed on fish, and larger animals like foxes feed on birds. You must be able to discuss how different organisms within an ecosystem like this one relate to one another.
- Heredity: You must be able to answer the question, “How do living organisms pass traits from one generation to the next?” Traits are expressed from genes, which are inherited from reproduction. Parents pass on these genes. Pay close attention to these connections while you study.
- Biological Evolution: Evolution was first proposed by Charles Darwin in the late 1900s. Since then, it has changed the way we think about heredity, structures, and organisms in general. Familiarize yourself with the process of evolution — and how certain traits and genes are selected over others.
Another area of high emphasis, Earth science is the study of the physical make-up of the earth and its atmosphere. You should specifically focus on Earth’s systems. This means you should look at geology, or the study of rocks and minerals, to get a better understanding of the earth’s surface and the layers underneath that surface.
After you’ve mastered the land, start thinking about the sky. In other words, think about the weather systems and the climate. The study of weather is also called meteorology, and it will be helpful to know why certain weather systems occur and what causes them.
You should also familiarize yourself with the oceans. Ask yourself:
- What do we know about the ocean?
- What are the primary differences between a body of salt water and a body of fresh water?
- What is the ecosystem of the ocean?
Also, you should focus on how human activity has impacted the earth. Ask yourself: how can human activities impact the Earth systems that I’ve studied?
Space Science and Astronomy
It’s also important for you to understand earth’s place in the universe. As you study space science, consider the hierarchy of space:
- Earth is a planet. It revolves around the sun, which is actually a star.
- Planets are a part of a solar system. There are eight planets in our solar system.
- Solar systems are a part of a galaxy. Our solar system is a part of the galaxy, known as the Milky Way.
- Galaxies are a part of a universe.
Our solar system appears to have been formed from a disk of dust and gas, which was drawn together by gravity. Space science is still being explored and is constantly changing — so focus on our solar system and how these elements relate to other areas of the TASC Science test.
Physical science is the study of inanimate objects. “Inanimate” means something that is not living. These types of objects can exist in nature or can be man-made. The most well-known aspect of physical science is physics.
Physical Science is one of our medium emphasis areas. You should focus your attention on the areas of matter, motion, energy, and waves. Consider these core ideas:
- For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second is equal in strength to the force that the second on the first, but in the opposite direction. This is Newton’s third law – and to become an expert in Physical Science, you’ll want to learn more about all of Newton’s laws.
- Electric or magnetic forces can be either attractive or repulsive. Try connecting two magnets. Then turn one magnet around. Do they still connect?
- Gravitational forces are always attractive. Remember that gravity is what keeps the earth circling the sun.
You probably already have a list of good, personal reasons to start studying for your high school equivalency. But, if you’re still struggling to get started, you should consider the three important reasons we have highlighted here:
1. The Tests Have Changed
In 2014, three new high school equivalency exams were released. These new tests have been designed to better align with the national education standards, which have recently changed, and the standards for College and Career Readiness.
These exams represent a change in standardized testing. For example, the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ focuses on measuring test takers ability to apply knowledge – rather than measuring test takers ability to memorize facts. This allows high school equivalency exams to test how prepared students are for college or for a career.
In this way, tests like the TASC test can help employers and higher education institutions confidently accept adult applicants because these tests show that students have the practical skills they need.
2. The Times Have Changed
As our world continues to change, so does the job market. Jobs that were once easy to find – like assembly work and other factory positions – have practically vanished. The 2013 Georgetown University report on job growth and education says that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some form of postsecondary education. And jobs requiring less than a high school diploma will shrink to 12% in 2020, compared to 32% in 1973. These jobs have been replaced by new positions in new fields, such as technology.
New fields like this require completely different skills, and many adults are struggling to find jobs that they are qualified to do. Employers want to hire individuals who need little training, or individuals who they know can learn quickly. And you might have read about the skills gap in a previous post. The skills gap refers to the “separation between the abilities of adults seeking employment and what employers need.” Many adults on the job market lack the important literary and mathematical skills needed to succeed in our innovative, and technology-dominated, world.
3. You Have Changed
Most people who take high school equivalency exams never finished high school. Instead of going to college, they started to work.
If this is you, you should know that the most important reason you can stop putting off your high school equivalency is that you’ve changed. Whether it’s been a year since you were in school or ten years, your time away from school has made a difference.
Whether or not you were a good student before, you know that you have a new set of skills from your time working. Because of this real life experience, you can approach problems differently. With some studying, you can feel more prepared to earn your equivalency.
Based on your goals and your preferences, decide which high school equivalency is best for you. The TASC test is here to support you along the way. Start studying today.
The writing process can be intimidating for students at any level. But at CTB/McGraw-Hill, we want you to feel prepared. We’ve outlined these four important writing skills for you to focus on as you prepare for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™. These skills help make you a better writer, and help you feel prepared.
Remember: these four skills work together in good writing. As you practice your writing and work to master these TASC test writing skills, notice how they connect and build on one another.
1. Narrow Your Ideas Down
Whether you are responding to a prompt or writing more generally, you should be able to discuss a topic using the following:
- Effective techniques
- Well-chosen details
- Organization that improves your argument
Start with a brainstorm so you can quickly get these details on paper. Brainstorms are informal, which means you can do them quickly. Most important, brainstorming does not need to be perfect. It allows you to see all of your ideas in one place and decide which you want to use in your argument and which might not work.
By narrowing your ideas down, you can get your writing off on the right foot!
2. Support Your Argument
The College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing require students to be able to support their claims using both strong reasoning and good evidence.
When you’re looking for evidence, you can research your topic. The research process can be short, like when you’re working on a response for your high school equivalency test and you’re using text provided by the test. Or, it can be a longer process like when you are working on a project for work and have to explore many resources online and in newspapers, magazines, and books.
Either way, you can use these resources to support your reasoning. If your argument is logical, readers will be able to follow your reasoning.
3. Consider Your Organization
It’s important that your argument is put in a good order. By good order, we mean your argument is clearly developed and the style is right for your purpose and audience.
So, take a minute to think about your organization. Ask yourself: is this the best way to present these ideas? Or, is there a clearer way the evidence can be arranged?
When you are short on time, do this step after you’ve finished your brainstorm. That way, you don’t have to spend too much time rewriting and moving ideas around as your test time runs out.
4. Pay Special Attention to Grammar
Grammar is another key feature of the Anchor Standards for Language for College and Career Readiness. Though you might think grammar is less important than the actual thoughts supporting your argument, poor grammar and bad word choice can also take away from your ideas. Readers can be distracted by too many mistakes.
If you have a good argument, you don’t want grammar to ruin it. Take a couple minutes to read through your writing, checking for grammar errors, spelling errors, or instances of incorrect or poor word choice. This should be your last step every time you complete a piece of writing.
Keep an eye out for:
- Missing commas, periods, and other punctuation
- Words that should be capitalized, like proper nouns
- Commonly misspelled words
- Slang words, which are inappropriate for this kind of writing
- Sentences that sound too much like you’re talking and figurative language that is unclear
If you can, we recommend reading your essay aloud to yourself quietly as you prepare for your test. This trick can help you catch grammar errors like run-on sentences, missing commas, and words that just don’t sound right.
Whether you are a young person who decided not to go to college or an adult who never completed high school, you may have already discovered that people without these levels of education struggle to find work. The job market continues to be competitive. Without the right set of skills, finding the right job or career path for you can be difficult.
Despite recent debates on the value of a college degree, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that “the gap between wages for college graduates and those without a college degree remains near all-time highs.”
The study found that over the past 40 years, people with degrees from four-year colleges earned 56% more than high school graduates. People with degrees from two-year colleges earned 21% more.
Mary Beth Marklein, a reporter for USA Today, says in the article mentioned above that the main reason for this gap in earnings is that average wages for workers without college degrees continue to fall. Marklein reports that the study by the Federal Reserve Bank said it was unclear whether this gap was a result of the recession or of “a more permanent reversal in the demand for the skills of college graduates.” However, she seemed to suggest that it might be more permanent. College graduates are often paid larger salaries than high school graduates for the same jobs.
At CTB/McGraw-Hill, we believe that education is the most important thing you can give yourself. We believe that you still can – and should – get your college degree. You can start by earning your high school equivalency.
We created the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ to help people earn the level of education they want and need to succeed. There are few opportunities for adults to gain the critical thinking skills in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Reading and Writing that current high school students gain. So we designed the TASC test around the College and Career Readiness Standards. These standards not only help adult learners gain those critical thinking skills. They also allow us to focus on testing our students’ ability to apply what they know to real life situations.
When you complete your high school equivalency, you can begin applying for colleges. Give yourself the education you deserve. Start studying for you high school equivalency exam today.
Thinking about taking the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™? Confused or overwhelmed by what to study or how to study? Hearing that some subjects are nearly impossible? Don’t be discouraged!
Meet Mike Puccio from Buffalo, New York. Mike passed the TASC Test last month after being out of school for over 20 years! Today, Mike is sharing his experience with us:
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 back in 1993.
2. What made you decide to get your diploma?
I always thought that getting my diploma wasn’t important until my counselor/mentor explained to me some valid reasons why I should. The main reason 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!
3. Why did you choose the TASC Test?
I originally chose to take the GED® Test but it was explained to me that New York doesn’t offer it any longer.
4. Where did you take the TASC Test Online?
I took the TASC Test online at the Workplace Literacy Center in Buffalo, NY.
5. How did you prepare for the TASC Test?
As far as studying I read and answered the practice questions on the TASC Test website at TASCTest.com. I did some “brushing up” on my vocabulary. I also did some reading about American history.
6. How long did it take you to take the entire test?
It took me almost the full allotted time to complete the test. The 5 subject subtests (Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies) were held over a 2-day period. 3 & 1/2 hours per day. Each day had a 15-minute break.
7. Which sections or subjects did you find to be the easiest and also most challenging?
I found the math part to be the most difficult. And the reading part was pretty easy.
8. What is your number one piece of advice or tip for all TASC Test takers?
A piece of advice I would give to anyone interested in taking the exam is do not underestimate it.
Have you taken the TASC Test and passed? We’d love to hear from you! Visit us on Facebook to join the conversation today!
In our day and age, nothing can help you succeed more than an education. Our world is fast-paced, innovative, and constantly advancing. Though the economy continues to improve, the process is gradual – and the market continues to be extremely competitive.
More and more adults are realizing the importance of education as they continue to compete in this job market. Many adults are suffering from what’s been called the “skills gap” as they search for jobs. According to an article on edSurge, the skills gap is the separation between the abilities of adults seeking employment and what employers need. Because of this skills gap, many adults are finding that they do not meet employers’ requirements. Available jobs are out of their reach.
The New America Foundation found that the United States has a larger population of low-skilled adults than most developed countries. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 2013 report, nearly one in six Americans lacks basic academic skills. Specifically, adult learners have low literacy and mathematical skills. The National Commission on Adult Literacy also found that an additional 60 million Americans lack the credentials and skills necessary to succeed in post-secondary education.
What Can We Do?
At CTB/McGraw-Hill, we believe that adults should have the tools to overcome the skills gap. We support adults who are pursuing education and those who wish to become more competitive.
One of the first steps adult learners can take towards their education is earning their high school equivalencies. To specifically address the skills gap and the low performance in literacy and mathematics, adult learners should choose a high school equivalency exam that aligns with the College and Career Readiness Standards and with new national and state standards.
For example, the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ measures test takers on their level of achievement relative to that of graduating high school seniors. The TASC test also focuses on testing students’ ability to apply their skills to real life situations. In terms of the skills gap, this type of measurement is more relevant to adult learners who are pursuing their educations to be more competitive and more prepared for the job market. Learn more about the new high school equivalencies, including the TASC test, and decide which exam is best for you.
Whether you read a lot in your free time or wish you read more, it’s important to keep in mind the Reading Standards as you begin to study for your high school equivalency exam. You can use the standards to focus your studies. Explore four high emphasis components of the College and Career Readiness anchor standards and the K-12 reading standards. Together, these standards define the skills and the understanding that all TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ test takers must demonstrate.
Key Ideas and Details
Students must be able to focus on the central ideas and supporting details of a text. This means that as you read, you know thoroughly what the text says. You can also figure out how those ideas are supported.
Ask yourselves these questions when looking for key ideas and details:
- What is the purpose, or main idea, of this text?
- How is the author supporting that purpose?
- How are these ideas developed over the course of my reading?
Also, try summarizing these ideas in your own words.
Craft and Structure
When you read, you should also pay attention to the structure of a text. The structure refers to sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text. These larger portions can be a section, a chapter, a scene, or a stanza – depending on what you are reading.
Also, think about the words and phrases the author uses. Ask yourself:
- What kind of words do they use?
- How do specific words change the meaning or tone?
- Is the writing technical? Connotative? Figurative?
When you look at the craft and structure, think about how these different elements work together. Ask yourself if the writer’s language, point of view, or purpose has any impact on the structure or style of the text.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
You must also be able to judge the success of a writer’s argument in a text. In other words, do you believe the argument after reading?
This means that you can compare two different texts on the same topic or with a similar theme. It also means that you can read different types of texts that are presented in different ways. This might include different types of media and different types of formats.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
Readers must also be able to read a range of complex literary and informational texts. Types of texts you should read are:
And students should read non-fiction works on subjects in social studies, science, and other areas. These kinds of texts help you build a foundation for College and Career Readiness, according to English Language Arts Standards. Practice applying the four standards listed above in these types of texts as you prepare to pass the TASC test and earn your high school equivalency.