TASC Test Center Spotlight: MSD Wayne Township Adult Education in Indiana
What motivates you to earn your high school equivalency (HSE)? For many people, it is the opportunity to enter the workforce, to advance in their career, or to go to college. For others, it’s the ability to help their children or grandchildren in school. For some who are new to the U.S., it is the opportunity to learn English and complete high school. Whatever your reason, you are likely to find others with the same dreams and aspirations at your local adult education center.
For this TASC Test Spotlight, we sat down with Christy McIntyre, Adult Education Coordinator, and Laurel Burns, Test Coordinator, with MSD Wayne Township Adult Education to learn how Indiana’s second-largest adult education program is supporting a diverse group of adult learners on their paths to success.
Can you tell us a little bit about your adult education program and the types of services you offer?
We have three different programs at Wayne Township Adult Education. We have an English Language Acquisition (ELA) program, which focuses on teaching individuals to speak and use English. Our high school equivalency (HSE) program supports students who are pursuing their HSE. Our third program provides career training and certification. We offer several career training options to our students:
● Microsoft Office Specialist certification in partnership with New Beginnings Computer Training
● Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) with Vincennes University
● Dental Assisting with Vincennes University
● Sterile Tech with Vincennes University
● ParaPro certification for teaching assistants
● ServeSafe and Kitchen Cook START certifications for Restaurant Management
● START certification for the hospitality industry
● QuickBooks with Ivy Tech in Mooresville and Avon
● A+ with Ivy Tech in Mooresville and Avon
● Area 31 Career Center is developing classes for Welding, HVAC, and Plumbing for the Fall of 2018, pending state approval
Our main campus is located at Ben Davis University, where the MSD of Wayne Township provides Adult Education in its own wing with six classrooms running in the morning, afternoon, and evening. We also offer classes at several other locations throughout Marion, Hendricks, and Morgan counties. Many of the career certification programs are offered in the evenings at Area 31 Career Center at Ben Davis High School.
If you visit https://adulted.info, you can find detailed information about all the programs mentioned above. The site also provides information on our employment and internship partnership programs, where companies can connect with students who are seeking job opportunities.
You have one of the largest adult education programs in Indiana. Can you give us a sense of who your students are?
We are the second-largest adult education program in the state, second only to the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). This year, Wayne Township Adult Education has enrolled 1,384 students. Forty-two percent (42%) of our students are in the English Language Acquisition program and 58% are in the High School Equivalency program. At Wayne Township Adult Education, 77% of our students are at or below a 5th grade level. A few refugees and immigrants have never been in school. Wayne Township Adult Education also has refugees and immigrants who are highly qualified with professional degrees from their home countries.
This program year, the Department of Workforce Development has tasked adult education providers to engage 20% of enrolled students in training. Currently, Wayne Adult Education has 110 students in Integrated Education and Training (IET) with 37 having already earned certificates. Currently, 15% of our student population is in IET training or WorkIN certification programs through WorkOne collaborations.
Let’s talk about Indiana’s HSE test, which is the TASC Test Assessing Secondary CompletionTM. What successes and challenges have you seen?
The majority of people who take the HSE test with us are successful. By the time students register to take the HSE exam, they have already taken the practice test and are pretty sure that they’re going to pass. In 2017, our examinees had an overall pass rate of 91% for the Reading subtest, 84% for Writing, 70% for Mathematics, 83% for Science, and 88% for Social Studies.
Wayne Township Adult Education has just designed a new “HSE Bootcamp” with the goal of providing instructional coaching to help best position TASC students to succeed. Of the 16 students who attended the first HSE Bootcamp, 98% passed the entire TASC program. For more information, visit adulted.info.
How is the TASC test administered at your test center?
We do virtually 100% online administration. On rare occasion, somebody will ask to take the test on paper if they’re struggling with testing online, and we can accommodate that. For example, we sometimes have older students who are not as comfortable with their keyboarding skills, so we allow them to test on paper.
When people come into the adult education program, they complete the TABE (Tests of Adult Basic Education®) online. The results of this assessment give our teachers insights on how to create a customized Individual Study Plan to advance each student through academic content where they are deficient.
How do students respond to testing online?
Most people are fine with it. The real advantage of testing online is that examinees get their scores almost immediately. Another advantage for the test center is that the test timer is automated. The examinees have a clock right on the screen that tells them exactly how many minutes remain in the testing session. The testing monitor does not have to monitor individual test times, which would be unrealistic when testing a group of examinees.
Do you use the TABE test in conjunction with the TASC test?
We use TABE Complete Language Assessment System–English™ (TABE CLAS–E) for our English Language Acquisition program, and we use the general TABE 9&10 for our HSE program. Wayne Township Adult Education uses TABE for pre-testing when students enter the program to determine their class level, and it is used again for post-testing at the end of classes to measure the gains students have made. Our classes cover all six levels on the TABE CLAS-E, and we also have HSE classes from levels 0 to 12.9. Per the state directive, Wayne Township Adult Education is making preparations for TABE 11&12.
What is the importance of affordable classes for your students?
All of our educational programming is free—no one is charged for our classes, including the career certification classes. We are able to remove cost as a barrier that could otherwise stand in the way of a person’s goals.
Are there opportunities for students to have their testing fees reduced?
The only fee that exists is the TASC testing fee of $90. Wayne Township Adult Education has used private funds to provide scholarships to students in need, as well as to fund the HSE Bootcamp pilot. We are actively seeking corporate sponsorships and private donations to continue scholarship offerings.
We also have a statewide voucher program through the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Anthem BlueCross BlueShield. Through this partnership, eligible Anthem BlueCross BlueShield members can receive a free voucher that covers the cost of the Indiana HSE test. More information on the voucher program can be accessed by clicking here.
What motivates your students to earn their high school equivalency (HSE)?
Laurel: For many people, I’ve found their motivation is usually for job advancement or to enter higher education. I’ve also heard people say they need to do this for their kids so that they can help them with their schoolwork. People also tell me they do it for their own self-esteem.
Christy: Each student enters our program with unique goals. I’d like to share a story about one special student.
Suzi walked in our doors with one mission, to help her grandkids with schoolwork. Her grandkids would come home after school needing help with their homework, but she didn’t feel confident since she herself had never graduated. She knew how important it was for them to graduate, and she wanted them to complete high school. When she walked through our doors, our life coaching team asked her to reflect on, “What’s your dream?” Over the course of a few months, her motivation expanded from helping her grandkids to completing high school and certifying in Microsoft Office. Wayne Township Adult Education has recently hired Suzi as a paraprofessional. It has been fun to see her grow through this entire year. She’s a great person to have on staff because she has walked in our students’ shoes.
There are many more stories featured on our website at adulted.info. Wayne Township Adult Education has amazing students from all walks of life with one common goal—to grow academically and achieve their personal dreams.
Walk us through what happens when a student comes to your center. What steps do they take to achieve their goal?
Students are on-boarded with a registration appointment for the ELA or HSE program. Registration is a two-day process that includes overviewing student manuals, viewing PowerPoints, completing applications, completing testing, visiting with life coaches, completing Indiana Career Explorer assessments, and discussing/planning for success.
Wayne Township Adult Education has special onboarding opportunities throughout the year for Career Training and HSE Bootcamp. After the initial assessment, students are advised on their specific track. For Bootcamp, students enter either adult education classes or are recommended for Bootcamp advancement. For Career Training onboarding, students are leveled into Express Track, Conditional Track, or Adult Education Growth Track. All students are provided with the same registration process, life coaching, and advice on how to proceed academically with an Individual Study Plan.
So if a student needed additional support from a life coach, that’s offered as part of your program?
We have a very structured orientation and registration process for our programs and the life coaches play a very important role upfront. We work to build relationships and expectations on day one. Our life coaches offer 1-1 counseling, small group sessions, civic engagement, monthly classroom presentations, career counseling sessions, community resource fairs, Career and Training Expos, and conversation workshops. The life coaching team actively uses Indiana Career Explorer, INTraining, Onet and several other resources. Our life coaching team works hand in hand with WorkOne to help leverage scholarship opportunities.
What does it mean to your students when they reach their goal, whether it’s earning their HSE or getting the job that they wanted?
Laurel: While I don’t have a lot of contact with students after they’ve finished the HSE exam, every now and then a student will email me if they’re missing a test score. When I tell them they passed, they’re over the moon. They are so thankful and just effusive about it. And when I report students’ scores to their teachers and let them know their students passed, the teachers are just as excited as the examinees are.
The thing that I’ve learned the most about this process is that people quit high school or don’t finish school for a variety of reasons that I never really thought about. When I was a student, I would think, why would anybody quit school? I’ve learned while working here that there are a lot of legitimate reasons. People have different circumstances, different backgrounds, and different opportunities. So we never make a judgment about anybody who’s coming in to take a test.
I’m a retired special education teacher and now and then I will have former students who come in to take the HSE. I know a lot of them have experienced failure on a regular basis through school. These are people who don’t necessarily need accommodations on the test, they just need the confidence in themselves. I think it takes a lot of gumption to come in and do this. There’s high anxiety when people come in to take the test of course, because testing itself is stressful. But it’s also about having the courage to take that step toward earning your HSE. We always try to be encouraging when people come in to register and let them know there are resources available, and they can call us anytime they have a question or a problem. We try to be as warm and welcoming and encouraging as we can be.
Christy: We see people hit their goals every single day and they come back and share their stories as Student Ambassadors at Career Training Expos, Bootcamps, and classroom presentations. Many times our students’ reflections tell us that they didn’t think they could do it and would never have taken those risks. At Wayne Township Adult Education, we have an amazing team of teachers who are optimistic, dedicated, and genuinely passionate about their students.
How do you recognize and celebrate student achievements?
Teachers have their own system to recognize perfect attendance as well as student gains. Our teachers work to celebrate incremental gains to keep students engaged and to recognize their progress as well as the next milestone.
The MSD of Wayne Township Superintendent has an incredible focus not only on the K–12 schools but also on adult education as well. He embraces adult education as a tool to break the cycle of poverty for families. Adult Education has also become a pipeline for building talent for teaching assistants, kitchen staff, and in due time, transportation staff. The MSD of Wayne Township Board Members, Superintendent, and Cabinet conduct a graduation ceremony for our HSE students and career-training students the first Saturday in June.
What is inspiring to you about working with students who are pursuing their HSE?
Laurel: I have met the most interesting people here. When you walk by our adult education classrooms in the hallway over break time, you hear multiple languages being spoken and you see people who really accept each other unconditionally regardless of culture. I’ve been working here since Indiana adopted the TASC test in January of 2014, and I have met such a nice, interesting, and diverse group of people.
What are you most passionate about with the work you do at Wayne Township Adult Ed?
Christy: I am passionate about education, breaking the cycle of poverty, and inspiring students to achieve their personal goals. I love working for an organization where I can come to work, and, with 77 different countries represented, travel the world without even leaving the building. It’s a blessing to serve students and our community by offering such valuable programming.
To find an Indiana adult education center near you, visit https://indiana.tasctest.com.
Copyright © 2018 Data Recognition Corporation. All rights reserved. TABE is a registered trademark and TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion is a trademark of Data Recognition Corporation.
Data Recognition Corporation is not affiliated with The After-School Corporation, which is known as TASC. The After-School Corporation has no affiliation with the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (“TASC test”) offered by DRC, and has not authorized, sponsored or otherwise approved of any of Data Recognition Corporation’s products and services, including the TASC test.