Cyber Monday Deal: 40% off Keys to the 3 HSE Tests

Are in Ohio or another state moving to three High School Equivalency tests? Get a jump on the new content with this exclusive one-day offer:

40% off the online course “3 Keys to the HSE Tests.”

Use the coupon code: CYBER.

Learn about key differences between the tests, consider how they will impact your adult education classroom, and ask your questions or comment to share with other online participants.

This training is also available as a facilitated webinar, but space is limited. Contact Meagen at 216.973.4977 or to reserve your spot for 2018.

New Course: Keys to the 3 HSE Tests

In August 2017, Ohio Department of Education approved all three national exams as official assessments to earn a High School Equivalency Credential:

  • GED® Test
  • TASC Test &
  • HiSET® Exam

Save yourself from wasting time searching, and spend it getting hands-on with the best resources to get you started navigating all three HSE exams.


The Literacy Cooperative has generously sponsored a live training to help Cleveland-area educators learn about working in a multi-assessment environment, and become more familiar with the TASC and HiSET exams.

The workshop filled up quickly, and we have had interest from all over the state. To help spread this vital information, I developed an online version of the live workshop.

The video-based lessons are full of curated links to save you time and help you understand key differences in the exams.

In addition, you can still gain the value of networking by commenting on the lessons to share insights and resources.


I look forward to diving deeper with you into the three exams, and reflecting on what this means for us as adult educators. Hope to see you in Keys to the 3 HSE Tests!

Tale as Old as Time: A Library in Need

Like many of you, I love my local library. I also love parody videos.

What do you get when you put them together?

A librody?

For a laugh, watch “Heat and Cool Our Library,” a parody of “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast. Pay attention for a familiar voice and face!

I live in the most rural county in Ohio. Our small town library is the only one in the county open 7 days a week, but has occassionally closed for furnace repairs. The whole HVAC system needs replaced, plus some ductwork and a reconnection to the boiler. Our lowest quote was $79,500. For all the bells and whistles, the highest price was $120,000.

This once-in-a-generation repair will keep our library functioning for decades. With Ohio’s hot summers and snow-belt winters, we NEED our HVAC system to continue offering:

  • Book clubs,
  • Seed sharing,
  • Computer use,
  • Notary services,
  • Video rentals,
  • WiFi hotspots,
  • and much more!

And as a public library, those services are free for anyone–especially important for our neighbors most in need.

Our Library is open 7 days a week, offers teen services, streaming eMedia, and much more!

Henderson Library transforms lives by partnering with community organizations to offer adult literacy classes, tax preparation, meetings for home school families… the list goes on and on! Along with a warm place to stay, our library is a critical resource for individual and community development.

AND… we continue a 200 year tradition of libraries in small town Jefferson, Ohio. This year we have been celebrating our Bicentennial with fun (free) events for all ages.

1817 to 2017: 200 years in the making

As a Bicentennial Birthday Present, I have set a goal of raising at least $500 to help keep our library open and comfortable for years to come.

But I need your help.

Henderson Library needs your help.

Jefferson area citizens need your help.

You can donate online, or send a check to:

Henderson Memorial Public Library (HMPL), 54 E Jefferson St, Jefferson, Ohio 44047

Will you help Heat & Cool Our Library? ♪DONATE!♪

As Promised: Quick (Unofficial) 2017 GED® Test Update

Hi friends! I had a lot of fun last week at The Literacy Cooperative’s training “2017 GED® Test Update” in Independence, Ohio. Teachers shared about their program’s practices, challenges, and had lots of hands-on exploration with free online resources.

As promised, I am making the workshop content available online for those who couldn’t make the session in person!

Check out Quick (Unofficial) 2017 GED Test Update today

Save yourself the time searching and sorting and spend more time exploring! Check out my curated list of the BEST resources that GED® Test Prep instructors NEED TO KNOW for 2017.

For just $5, access my recommendations and descriptions with links. Post in the comments section to network and share ideas. Discuss the landscape of College Ready Plus Credit and WIOA. Strategize to become an advocate for GED® Test prep students and passers in your region.

Join now!

GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. Any content on this website is not endorsed or approved by these trademark holders.


In addition to the planned workshop content, participants also had a lot of questions about the upcoming changes here in Ohio.  The state is taking steps to evaluate adding the HiSET and TASC Tests as options to earn a high school equivalency diploma. While I gave folks in the session a quick overview of the alternatives, this topic deserves its own full workshop.

I have already helped programs in states like Texas, New Jersey, and California navigate the territory of multiple High School Equivalency exams and options. Once we get an announcement from the state of Ohio, I will be providing a FREE live workshop through The Literacy Cooperative. Look for that date and get your questions answered on whichever HSE test option(s) the state decides.

Your “Drop Outs” Are Our Students! An Adult Educator Responds to High School Graduation Rates

I was intrigued to read this article from a principal here in Northeast Ohio:

Behind the Graduation Rate Statistic on Ohio’s School Report Cards

As an adult educator, I am well versed in “drop out” stories from the student perspective, and it is interesting to hear a principal’s side. I have spent the past decade teaching adult students who did not succeed in the traditional K-12 social promotion school system, but are looking for another chance.

As such, I have a strong negative response to some of the language in this piece, which I realize is a symptom of cultural attitudes rather than a personal flaw. The article is intended to be engaging, enlightening, maybe even funny. But there is one message that comes out loud and clear: “Drop outs” are the Undesirables of the K-12 system. Because they mess with the state report card, some consider them “Trash.”

100% of my students are the 4% at this high school (37% in Cleveland) who didn’t complete high school on the “traditional” timeline of four-five years. Here’s what this looks like from the adult education perspective:

People will spend the rest of their lives reacting to your labels.

“Hot Potato.” “Trouble Maker.” “Trash.” “Cash Cow.”

It doesn’t require a public blog post to make these labels explicit to high school kids. They feel it. In their bones. Students get the picture every time they see eyes rolled, hear a condescending tone of voice, or get resistance or silence from adults in response to their proposals for their own education.

I often hear adult educators talk about overcoming self esteem issues among students, and in some cases students do feel badly about themselves because they aren’t a “success story”…yet. But I honestly think that is a smaller percentage than we think. Here’s what I think really happens when you give someone a negative label:

They give you a negative label in return.

When a system marginalizes a group of people, a common response is to develop a collective worldview that subverts mainstream values. In other words, the rejected ones are seen as the “norm” and the system that rejected them is the “undesirable.” This value system can become laced with resentment, jealousy, and just anger. Groups may bond over their common marginalization and a subculture is born.

You can observe this in corrections facilities, in homeless shelters, in public housing…in pockets all over low income or minority communities that adult education programs serve.

When the K-12 system labels someone a “drop out,” they may respond:

“I’m a graduate of the University of Hard Knocks.”

This phrase was first attributed to Elbert Hubbard in 1902. Jay-Z used a variation of this phrase in the 1998 song that launched his stardom: “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).” A rejection of the “soft” system of formal education is countered by valuing “hardship.” Surviving adversity and overcoming struggles is the “diploma,” often to the point of glorifying trauma instead of striving to break the cycle.

School can be a major part of the cycle of trauma.

Example: One of my students, a latina Muslim in hijab, was expelled from school for attempting to punch school staff for making sexist comments. And I respected her for it, honestly. I heard repeated sexist comments from one of my phys ed teachers in high school, and I reported him to the administration multiple times. But he regularly lead our football team to the state championships, so he was apparently too valuable to discipline. Football players made money for the school, so their coach was “too big to fail.”

“Trauma” is really the word that summarizes every situation this Northeast Ohio high school principal describes. It is traumatizing to be perceived and labeled as a drain on the system, especially when we consider the mountain of resources unquestioningly thrown at those who are “too big to fail.”

I know there is no easy solution to this issue, and trauma has a delightful way of replicating itself, repeating year after year and generation after generation. But things can change, and I want to explain what happens to students once they leave the K-12 system if they decide to return to a “non-traditional” program as an adult.

First, you have to formally withdraw from or age out of the K-12 system.

“Adult education” is actually not exclusively for people over 18 years old. The label refers to anyone over 14 years old who has chosen to leave the “traditional” school system for a “non-traditional” path. These services are typically categorized as:

  • Adult basic education: increasing functional literacy (reading) and numeracy (math) skills.
  • GED Test Prep: to earn a high school equivalency diploma (only the GED Test in Ohio; HiSET, TASC, or portfolios in some other states).
  • ESOL: learning English for non-native speakers and/or Citizenship Test preparation.
  • Remedial or developmental: typically provided by community colleges to prepare students for 100-level college courses.
  • Workforce literacy: increasing functional skills for employees or job training.
  • Corrections: these students may have any of the goals above, but take classes while incarcerated.

GED Test takers cannot be counted towards a local school’s graduation rate because students have to formally withdraw from or age out of the K-12 system in order to be eligible to take the test in Ohio. In Ohio, once someone formally exits “traditional” education to pursue their high school equivalency diploma, they are no longer counted as a client of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). This is confusing because ODE administers the GED test and awards the high school equivalency diploma to those who pass. However, public funding for adult education comes through the Ohio Board of Regents, not ODE. The K-12 “drop out” (to cite the article) becomes an adult education student.

Adult education students are considered part of workforce development, funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), and regulated by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE). A small number of foundations and private philanthropists, like Barbara Bush and Dollar General, are also committed to supporting the field.

I am painfully aware that the system of adult education cannot provide the same level of resources available to K-12 students. Adult education programs rarely have bus drivers, guidance counselors, nurses, librarians, special education teachers, or nutrition workers on staff. A 10% graduation rate in an adult education program is considered high. Nationally, only one of every three adults who enroll in our programs can be expected to complete more than 12 hours of class. Imagine all the barriers to educational performance expressed in the article (domestic violence, drug abuse, legal troubles, illness, work, children), and apply that to 100% of your student body. That’s adult education.

But for all those barriers, for all the Hard Knocks, adult educators tend to thrive on the challenge. The very first student I tutored was in a wheelchair, in and out of homelessness, and told me she was a “dunce.” Within six months of tutoring for 90 minute sessions twice a week, she had improved from third to fifth grade level in reading. She brought the community college course catalog to class to discuss her next steps after graduation. During the winter she moved to Florida (much easier to get around in a wheelchair without so much ice!) and contacted me to transfer her files to an adult education program there.

Most adult educators have embraced the subculture of overcoming adversity, balancing it with some hope that we can break the cycle of trauma. Sometimes we can instill that hope in our students as well. One adult education graduate can bring an entire family out of poverty, and generally earns $1 million MORE over the course of her lifetime. That statistic doesn’t even factor in the economic benefits of lower dependence on social services, higher health outcomes, and lower crime rates often associated with higher functional literacy levels.

Adult students often recognize later in life that education is a major avenue to improve their quality-of-life. One of my recent graduates repeatedly commented that she had zero income, identifying herself as one of the poorest of the poor. Physical pain often put her in a bad mood. But she attended tutoring two to four times a week, and after almost two years she passed the GED Math Test on her fourth try. She knew a diploma was her best chance to get a steady income and health insurance.

Our biggest barrier in adult education is not our students or their circumstances. Tragedy is everywhere, and so is survival and improvement. Our biggest problem is that we don’t have the resources to provide enough quality chances for every adult who persists and wants to continue learning.

There are over 36 million adults in the USA with low literacy and numeracy skills. Combined, adult education programs serve only 3 million students. Waiting lists are often long, demand for services is increasing, and funding for adult education has decreased from all sources.

Even if we increased K-12 graduation rates to 100%, we would still have millions of adults without a diploma, or with a diploma but low functional skills. Adult education programs really know how to stretch a dollar to achieve a social and economic return on investment.

To prove it, let’s compare some financial statistics from 2012-13:

  • Over 1,000 adult literacy organizations had a combined budget of $160 million, and served over 245,000 students.
  • In the same time period, Harvard University used $4.2 billion (that’s a “B”) in operating expenses to serve around 20,000 students.

The entire membership of ProLiteracy served 12 times the students for 1/26 of the cost per student than Harvard University.

I think my graduates are just as valuable to the community as a Harvard alum. Adult education can break the cycle of trauma and improve a whole community’s quality-of-life.

Adult educators are trying to catch the millions of adults that spill through the cracks and exit the K-12, those that the report card labels “drop outs.”

But that’s not the end of the story. Adult education is a chance for those who want to hang a GED or HSE diploma next to their credential from the University of Hard Knocks. The adult education system is doing the best we can to serve as many students as possible, but we need an investment of political will and funding from all sources, public and private, if we’re going to do this right.

People and circumstances change. An adult may go into recovery, use new treatments or adaptive technologies, leave a dysfunctional family, discover untapped passion, experience religious conversion, get laid off, go to prison, or any number of situations that can motivate someone to take another chance and become an adult education student.

I want to be there when someone decides to make that change. My career has been dedicated to the idea that EVERY student at EVERY age could be “too big to fail.” What about you? I hope you can join me in welcoming adult students with open arms. Let’s provide more people with the resources and opportunities to improve their skills, break the cycle of trauma, and maybe even become a non-traditional graduate.

The Word is Out: Finish Your GED Test in 2013!

The Plain Dealer recently published a warning: “GED test for high school equivalency degree will be harder and more expensive in 2014.” They interviewed a current GED test preparation student:

“All adult basic literacy sites and the Literacy Cooperative in Cuyahoga County are encouraging people to take the GED this year and complete all five parts because their scores will not carry over into 2014.

Juliette Casuentes, 32, plans to take the final section, in math, this month.

McGraw Hill's GED Mathematics Workbook
Buy from Amazon for less than $6

‘I didn’t know how important it was and got caught up with work,” she said of not pursuing a high school diploma. “I decided to go back to school – and want to go to nursing school.’

Casuentes, of Parma, said that although she intends to complete the GED this year, she would have been willing to pay the higher cost if necessary.

‘But I’m sure it will be hard for other people,’ Casuentes said.”

Though the Plain Dealer article doesn’t say this, instructors and programs are also urging test takers to sign up by the end of August 2013 to get a testing spot. GED testing schedules often fill up a couple months in advance! Don’t wait until the last minute.

Do you only have one or two sections of the GED Test to pass?

The Plain Dealer followed their article with an editorial that states: “Ohio should help GED candidates as test costs increases.”

Do you agree?

I think that covering the testing fee is an investment for state governments. States will certainly not make money off the testing process or fees itself, but people with an accepted HS credential earn higher incomes and pay more taxes. I think for that reason alone, it makes sense to cover the cost of the test. It is not an easy test, and if someone can pass it, why should we let a small fee stand in their way of contributing more over a lifetime?

If you live in the state of Ohio, you can join me in contacting your state representatives in the House and Senate to tell them what you think about the GED testing fee and upcoming changes.

Vanguard-Sentinel Adult Career Center

Vanguard-Sentinel Adult Career Center Booth at Tiffin YMCA Family Fun Fest

Increase Literacy Levels in Cuyahoga County through NEO Literacy Corps

Can you please pass this along through your networks?

We still have 5 part time and a couple full time positions available for NEO Literacy Corps. This is a great service-learning opportunity aimed to increase literacy levels in Northeast Ohio. Respond ASAP! Email resumes to

View the posting online here:

We are currently accepting applications for the 2011-2012 year. Resumes should include an explanation of your service interests and your interest in literacy, as well as your educational background, work experience and other related activities. Send resumes and questions to

Northeast Ohio Literacy Corps (NEO Literacy Corps) strives to help literacy programs grow by providing direct service and by recruiting community volunteers. Members will serve at one of 19 host sites in Cuyahoga County. AmeriCorps volunteers provide either direct literacy services as tutors, workshop leaders, and teacher’s aides or serve as volunteer coordinators to recruit, train and supervise literacy volunteers. Members share initial training, as well as work together in teams to expand the host site’s ability to provide literacy services, focusing on engaging volunteers and using the best strategies to improve literacy.

NEO Literacy Corps is looking for passionate individuals who are committed to serving for 12 months in an area of targeted community need. Service will begin on September 6, 2011 and will conclude on August 26, 2012. Throughout their service, AmeriCorps volunteers build on their training and deepen relationships as they improve their skills in volunteer management, teamwork, and community-based literacy services.

Full time Members will serve 1700 hours (40 hours/week) and will also be provided:

  • Living stipend of $12,100 per year.
  • Health and disability insurance.
  • Child care (if applicable).
  • The Eli Segal Education award of $5,350 after completion of service.

Half time Members will serve 900 hours (20 hours/week) and receive:

  • Living stipend of $6,407 with disability insurance.
  • The Eli Segal Education award of $2,675 after completion of service.

The Eli Segal Education Award offers several benefits:

  • The award can be used for education costs at a qualified college or university, training, or to repay qualified student loans.
  • Some colleges and universities will match the amount.
  • Members ages 55+ can transfer to child, grandchild or foster child.
  • After your service, you also can become a lifelong member (small “m”) of the AmeriCorps Alums network.

Akron: The Right Size


Visiting Akron this weekend and saw the historic St Thomas Hospital where AA was founded (in its current form).

Drove from one side of the city to the other: hospitals, bank HQs, minor league baseball, cuyahoga valley scenic railroad, university of Akron. The whole place seems more or less…occupied. Coming from Cleveland, which often looks abandoned & desolate, Akron appears like a city that has kept a maintainable, healthy size. Kudos! Very livable.

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