FAFSA Now Available for All Students

Do you have a recent GED graduate or adult learner who is looking to go to college? Help them fill out the Free Application for Federal and Student Aid! Your students will have a better understanding of the types of financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans, etc.) they are eligible for and it will help their colleges or schools in their quest to help your student with financial aid. The 2014-15 FAFSA became available on January 1.

Here is a video explaining what FAFSA is and what it can do for your students. It can be a daunting process, so sometimes it helps to have a friendly voice guiding you along the way.


7 Myths About the FAFSA and Applying for Financial Aid

Top Stories in Literacy: Week of December 16

Here are a few great examples of literacy in the news!

Lawmakers say it adds up to teach financial literacy in high school
The Florida Current

Miami Organizations Partner to Promote Reading, Donating 120,000 Books for Local Children
Biscayne Bay Tribune

Literacy Doesn’t Mean What You Think
Huffington Post Canada

Early promotion of reading skills crucial for future
Florida Today



FLC Announces GED Website Expansion

FLC is pleased to announce the expansion of its GED section on its website. This section has been updated to include general information about the GED test along with specific sections for students, teachers and administrators alike.

While the language can be understood by adult learners aspiring to obtain their GED diploma, the site also provides detailed information that everyone involved with adult literacy and adult basic education need to know. Whether it’s in search of a specific answer to a question or used for reference, the new GED section will help you find what you’re looking for.

In an effort to create the best site on the GED test, FLC researched the different state GED sites available. FLC has put together an intuitive, easy to navigate site which provides useful information on all things related to the GED. Our site also covers the upcoming changes of the GED test, warnings for test-takers, test day tips, self-study resources, teacher resources, tips for during and after the test along with an extensive FAQ.

While we all now know about the upcoming changes to the GED test, some still don’t know that GED diploma recipients may be eligible for the Bright Futures scholarship, or that the GED test can be taken in a language other than English. Perhaps there’s something you don’t know about the GED. The Florida Literacy GED site is up and running, so go check it out at [http://www.floridaliteracy.org/ged_information.html] as a refresher. You might even learn something new!

Calculator Practice for the GED test

If math wasn’t a choice subject of your adult learners before, using a virtual calculator could make the math test of the new GED test slightly more challenging. GED testing service has said that the on-screen calculator is the Texas Instruments TI-30XS and is identical to its physical counterpart; however students are prohibited from using handheld calculators. Programs interested in purchasing the virtual and/or handheld calculator can provide these to students so that they can familiarize themselves with the calculator used on the GED test.

The virtual calculator won’t always be present during the math section. It will only appear during the calculator-permitted part of the math test, similarly to the 2003 test. Both the calculator-prohibited and calculator-permitted sections are part of a single Mathematical Reasoning module with total testing time of 90 minutes. Exactly 5 items of each form of the module are calculator-prohibited, so the majority of it requires knowledge of the virtual-calculator used to solve the math problems to demonstrate fluency in mathematical calculations. It’s important to note that the calculator will be provided on certain sections of the Science and Social Studies tests when it would be useful.

With that in mind, adult learners must master both the Mathematical Reasoning module and the application of the calculator. Whether the calculator is virtual or handheld, the key is sufficient practice. Below are several online resources for practice with the TI-30XS calculator to share with your programs and adult learners. There is also a practice test to use with your students after they’ve had some practice with the calculator.

Which Adult Basic Education Program is right for your Adult Learners?

Here in Florida adult learners are fortunate enough to have the choice between two methods of earning a high school diploma or its equivalent. One can either enroll in an Adult High School program or take the General Education Development (GED) exam. While the AHS programs yield a high school diploma recognized by the state of Florida, passing the GED exam is the equivalent to obtaining a diploma. So what are the differences in these programs? Are there benefits/disadvantages of choosing one method over the other? How can you help your adult learners decide which program is right for them? Lucky for you, my dear reader, I did my homework.

Although each method effectively earns your adult learner a diploma or its equivalent (as long as he/she does his/her homework!), there are some factors to consider. You’ll first want to discover exactly how late into your adult learner’s high school career did he/she drop out. The Florida high school diploma requires that students receive 24 credits in order to graduate, so if your adult learner already has earned a good amount of these credits, he/she can simply enroll in an AHS program to finish what they started. If this endeavor would require the adult learner to spend a considerable amount of time and money pursuing an adult high school diploma, taking the GED is probably the choice route. This is likely the biggest factor to consider when choosing between AHS or GED.

In terms of coursework, both paths sufficiently prepare adult learners in the 4 core areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. The GED exam assesses these areas while the FCATs/EOCs assess these areas for AHS programs. Furthermore, successful completion of either program is recognized by state colleges and universities as equal to a high school education. Digital literacy skills may also factor into an adult learner’s decision since the GED exam becomes completely digital on January 2014.

Another factor is time, which of course drags along money. Adult learners usually prepare for the GED exam in 6 weeks, and it costs $120 for Florida residents. Re-takes in Florida cost $14 per sub-test, except for the Language Arts Writing section which costs $16, and $26 per sub-test for the 2014 GED test on computers. AHS programs require students to purchase books along with $30 per course for Florida state residents or $120 per course for out-of-state residents. Courses are more flexible for AHS programs, but they also take longer, normally lasting the length of a semester at college. It’s also worth noting that when preparing to move to high education, recipients of an adult high school diploma and those that passed the GED may qualify for a Bright Futures Scholarship.

It would be a shame not to finish this little five-paragraph essay (or drop that phrase for SEO) without some sort of conclusion. Before your adult learners enroll in an Adult Basic Education program, make sure that they consider all the factors. The amount of high school credits previously completed, time it will take to receive a diploma or its equivalent, and the costs of each program.

For more information on adult education, visit http://www.fldoe.org/workforce/adulted/.

For AHS programs- http://www.fldoe.org/workforce/dwdframe/pdf/AHS.pdf

For the GED exam- http://www.gedtestingservice.com/ged-testing-service

Armando Gutierrez: Making Lasting Connections

Dr. Armando Gutierrez

In September 2012, I presented a webinar, which gave simple ways to connect with students during the initial hours of a GED class. My colleagues and I discussed the importance of establishing a rapport with your students. We discussed the urgency of forming bonds early in the course, before doubt and life creeps in to the decision process.

In summarizing the webinar I wanted to give additional ways teachers can make the most of the first 36 hours of contact with their students. I wanted to reiterate the importance of peeling back the layers we ALL use in order to cope on a daily basis, whether we are students or teachers. I also wanted to give additional advise on keeping goals at the forefront each and everyday and how important it is to keep instruction relevant. Important aspects that are essential for your students to commit to your class and NOT leave again.

Without a doubt, the best take-away from the webinar and the most important lesson we can learn from The First 36 Hours is creating a dialog with student. One of the best books I have ever read was a book titled “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I would implore teachers to read this book published over 76 years ago by Dale Carnegie. In it, Dale Carnegie talks about timeless ways to improve your relationships and expand your influence with others. Carnegie’s principles are more relevant today than ever before. The lost art of communication is among the baggage some students bring to our classes.

Before the Internet, texting, Skype, Twitter and Facebook, people needed to interact with real human beings. Interaction required looking into  someone’s eyes, smiling, introducing yourself, and more importantly listening. These simple interactions were a way of life. Nowadays, it is not unusual to hear we have over 300 Facebook friends and don’t know the name of our next-door neighbor.

The best way to have your students persist in your GED classrooms is to “Get to know them.” The more ways you can make that personal connection, the more committed they will be.

Dr. Armando Gutierrez is an administrator in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He currently spearheads a project to re-engage high school dropouts in a Career Pathways model. 

Top Stories in Literacy: June 4

Top Stories in LiteracyJourney pays off for adults seeking education
About 40 graduates were recognized at the ceremony, held at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology auditorium, while 150 qualified for graduation, and more will qualify after General Educational Development (GED) testing is completed June 23.

Many job applicants lack basic literacy and office skills
The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 93 million U.S. adults have basic and below basic literacy skills, well below the skill level necessary to perform many jobs. Recent studies revealed that 4 out of 10 working age adults don’t have functional literacy skills.

Grad rate debated as standards get higher
Looking at Flagler’s and Volusia’s federal graduation rates, it is estimated that “well over 20 percent” of Flagler students could be considered dropouts, while “over 30 percent” of Volusia students could be dropouts, or someone who is unlikely to earn a diploma or GED within the next few years.

Why Steve Jobs would have loved digital learning
In the wake of Steve Jobs’ passing, many wrote about the statements he made throughout his adult life about how to improve the U.S. education system. Some noted that for much of Jobs’s life, he had, ironically perhaps, been skeptical of the positive impact technology could make on education.

Top Stories in Literacy: April 23

Top Stories in LiteracyFree or low-cost health-related events open to the public in Manatee and Sarasota counties
This story highlights all of the free or low cost events happening in this area. It is perfect for health literacy. Pass the information onto your students!

U.S. Department of Education Releases Blueprint to Transform Career and Technical Education
Secretary Duncan will hold a town hall to discuss how the Administration’s plan will ensure the education system provides high-quality job-training opportunities that reduce skill shortages, spur business growth, encourage new investment and hires, and spark innovation and economic growth.

Ad Council and Dollar General Literacy Foundation Launch New PSAs to Provide Young Adults the Motivation to Achieve their GED® Diploma
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 34.6 million adults ages 18 and above do not have a high school diploma. In an effort to combat this critical issue, the Ad Council and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation joined today to launch new public service advertisements (PSAs) on behalf of their national GED Achievement campaign.

Century Correctional plans GED graduation
The number of Florida inmates earning GED certificates has nearly doubled in three years, increasing from 1,313 in 2006-07 to 2,603 in 2009-10.

Successful Studying for a Standardized Test: GED Edition

First, congratulations on your decision to take the GED. It can be a lengthy process to get to this point, but you did it! Your next step is making sure you are on the path to success. Although you can retake the test and even sections of the test, I’m sure you want to get this done for the most part in one step. There are several websites that will help you study for the test and will even provide practice tests. Here are some things you can do to make your studying successful.

1. Budget your time

You aren’t going to pass this test simply with good wishes/prayers. You have to put in the time and energy to get this accomplished. Make a schedule of your day. Include work, class, and any other commitments you have. Be sure to include drain time. Do you spend a couple hours watching TV or surfing the internet? Find places to fit studying in your schedule and find ways to incorporate it in your life. Practice vocabulary words at work. Turn history into a game to play with your family. There are many ways you can prevent studying from being a chore.

2. Get rid of obvious distractions

So you plan to study. You sit down in your kitchen with your books, notebooks, and writing utensils. Then, you get a text message. After that, you start hearing the TV in the other room. Next, your child needs you for whatever reason that could not wait. It’s easy to lose focus, especially if you might be looking for a distraction. Put yourself in a secluded area with only the materials you need. Prepare for the fact you’re going to get thirsty, hungry and you will have to go to the bathroom. If you are in a public place, here are some polite ways to ask people to be quiet.

3. Take care of yourself

Diet and exercise is very important in life, but especially when you are preparing for taking an important test. Regularly exercising and eating well will get you thinking clearer and feeling positive.

4. Squash negative voices

There will always be people trying to pull you down. Maybe these people contributed to you not completing high school. Maybe they are still in your life. Ignore them. Write down rebuttals so you don’t psyche yourself out. Remind yourself that you have been preparing for this and you will succeed at it, just like you have succeeded at other things in life. You deserve to achieve your goals and you can achieve your goals.

5. Prepare for the test!

That’s the point, right? Familiarize yourself with test procedures. Know the format of the test so there aren’t any surprises. Answer multiple choice questions before reading the answers. If you can’t answer it without the answers, get rid of the answers that you know are wrong. If the question is confusing, try finding a way to say it in your own words. Take practice tests online to get yourself used to what you’re working with.

Most importantly, remember Thomas Edison’s quote, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” You are equipped with the tools to pass this test. Don’t forget to believe in yourself!

GED Student Success Story: Noriko Tilley

To go along with the GED theme this month, we’ve decided to include student success stories. If you are interested in reading more stories like Noriko’s, please visit our website. 

Noriko Tilley

Noriko Tilley is a 44-year-old Japanese born woman.  Tilley graduated from high school in Japan and spent two years learning English and German at a vocational school.  In 1988, Tilley married an American air force officer and they moved back and forth several times between Japan and the United States.  During that period, Tilley and her husband had two children.

While her children were at school, Tilley would shop with friends and maintain her home.  Twenty years after she graduated from vocational school, Tilley decided she wanted more from her life.  She enrolled in Oskaloosa-Walton Community College’s ESOL class and then at the recommendation of her instructor, she took a GED class and passed the examination just after two months.

Tilley went full circle from student to teacher; she now works at the college as an advanced level accounting tutor and adult education proctor.

Words of Encouragement:

Stay with the program, why quit.  Set your goal and why quit.  I’m sure there are some people who want to come, but they can’t.  They have to work or something, but if they can, if they have time to stay home then why not?  Come to the great program and study.