Helping Students Develop Realistics Goals and Timelines for Educational Progress

WEST ABE recognizes student goals are unique to each individual and are often times created for very personal reasons.  Instructors have a number of strategies in place to help work with students in creating realistic goals and timelines that create buy-in from the students as well as reinforce the determination needed to persist.

Most intake procedures, although not standardized, are universal across program sites.  West ABE maintains an “Open Door” philosophy where students can enroll at any time. The few managed enrollment classes have a more formal process being they are run for specific lengths of time during the program year and have enrollment requirements that include an attendance policy.  This happens at our larger sites or if there is an initiative with specific parameters. The intake process is determined by the instructor but all state guidelines are considered and addressed on the Student Intake Form and in the database (SID).

  1. Personal Education Plans (PEP) – Upon intake, the instructor collects all intake information as well as learns about the student’s educational and professional goals and needs.  From this conversation the PEP are created that outline the students path to success with shorter goals outlined on the way to the larger outcome. The instructor will ask the student questions to help prioritize goals based on the ability to attend classes regularly and identify any potential barriers to address, such as childcare, to aid the student in achieving their goals.
  2. Assessments – Used to determine each student’s Educational Functioning Levels and either their starting point for instructional purposes or their appropriate class for managed enrollment sites.  Testing produces informative results. WEST ABE uses both the state-approved CASAS and TABE tests and adheres to the pattern of appraisal, pretest, instruction and post-test consistently across classrooms.  WEST uses assessment results to determine academic readiness for students aged 17-18 to see if they are ready to apply for an age waiver for the GED test. For example, CASAS reading assessment can be used to determine whether a student reads at a level that would qualify them to participate in an Evidence-Based Reading Class, i.e. STAR.  Once determined, further diagnostic testing can be completed in areas of comprehension, vocabulary and fluency so as to better focus instruction in the areas of need. If needed we count on the supplemental service providers for learning materials such as colored overlays for reading or introduce new learning styles such as visual thinking where the learner better understands and retains information when ideas, words and concepts are associated with images. Some common visual learning strategies include creating graphic organizers, diagramming, mind mapping, outlining and more.  We count on the Supplemental Service Providers for learning aids as well as their expertise in dealing with specialized populations. Our Workforce Partners, such as Services for the Blind, also aid us in helping our students overcome any obstacles to learning.
  3. Managed Enrollment – When the site allows, based on demand, classes are formed by testing level and students are expected to attend on a regular basis in order to hold their spot.  These classes meet more frequently and for a predetermined length of time which allows for greater persistence for students. The class content is structured and contextualized creating the opportunity for more intensity and greater gains.
  4. Contextualized Instruction – “Contextualized Instruction” describes a set of teaching, learning and assessment practices that are aimed directly at developing the skills and knowledge that adults need to deal with specific situations or perform specific tasks. Offering contextualized programming is one of the most engaging ways for students to learn thus achieving goals sooner.  Here are a few examples:
    1. Low level ESL learners work on and acquire English Language skills by practicing reading menus to call and order take-out food, reading bus and train schedules to see which route they would need to take, as well as other forms of civic engagement.
    2. Classes and coursework for students preparing for other exams such as the Accuplacer, Citizenship, Commercial Driver’s License or Boiler’s License.
  5. Distance Learning – Distance education is a formal learning activity where students and instructors are separated by geography, time or both for the majority of the instructional period. Distance learning materials are delivered through a variety of media including, but not limited to, print, audio recording, videotape, broadcasts, computer software, web-based programs and other online technology. Teachers support distance learners through communication via mail, telephone, e-mail or online technologies and software. All teachers take the Distance Learning training, DL101 and in some cases, DL102. Students who are able and interested in distance learning discuss rules, expectations, frequency and duration with the instructor prior to beginning.  A distance learning agreement is also highly suggested to hone down the days, times and area of study on which they are to focus. WEST uses many free options but has also purchased Burlington English, Rosetta Stone and MobyMax to aid in our students’ achievement. (See Distance Learning Expectations and Rules attachment)
  6. Student Progress Policy – The state developed this policy to require learners to demonstrate educational progress through NRS level completion within 24 months of service.  This is followed by a 6 month intervention plan for non-progressing students. Students who do not demonstrate progress despite intervention strategies at the end of 30 months are referred to other programs that may be better suited for them and unenrolled in our ABE program.