The New HSEA at Broadview

By Rob Moore

At Broadview Learning Center, we began giving the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) on January 28, 2014. From what I gather, we were one of the first testing sites to actually administer the test. We have been giving it faithfully every Tuesday and Wednesday ever since.

We began testing as soon as we could for a couple of reasons. First, we had potential “walk-in” test candidates (i.e., non-students) call us to register for the tests as soon as we returned from Winter Break during the first week of January. Secondly, we had an adult education student that our teacher felt was prepared for it. Thirdly, we had a pre-existing GED® testing calendar set for the year for every Tuesday and Wednesday. Finally, we had the TASC in hand. So, we believed we had really no reason to wait.

At Broadview, our plan is to begin with the pencil-paper version and eventually offer both the pencil-paper and computer-based testing.

To prepare our adult education office for the TASC, we created a paper “TASC Examinee Registration Form” that we use to capture the candidates’ information needed for the online registration system. That way, the candidate can fill it out quickly, and our secretary can enter the information into the system later. We also created a “TASC Schedule” that shows the time each test would begin for both our daytime and evening testing so students would know what time to arrive and what time they might expect to finish. Finally, we pulled the “TASC Objective Structure” as another hand-out to give examinees when the register so they would know what kind of questions they will answer.

Our program kept the price for the TASC the same as we had charged for the GED Tests, $70…for now anyway. We believed that keeping the structures the same (i.e., a paper registration form for the candidate, the same test calendar and schedule, and the same price) we could transition more easily into the administration of TASC.

We found that administering the TASC was no problem. It seemed to be “business as usual” with answer sheets and an examiner’s manual to read from. We did find a couple of issues that “threw” us:

1. When our examiner checks in students for testing on the online registration system, it assigns students their test forms. That means she cannot prepare the test materials ahead of time for each student as she had done with the GED Tests. It seems strange that the system usually assigns all candidates to take the same form of the same test at the same time. It’s counterintuitive to us, who usually mix the forms among the candidates in the name of test security. More than once we gave a candidate the wrong form of the TASC, but the TASC Help Desk was able to fix the problem for us each time.

2. We give mixed reviews to the TASC Help Desk. With CTB McGraw-Hill’s TABE Help Desk, we always talk to someone who can answer questions and fix problems himself. But when we call the TASC Help Desk, we seem to be talking to a receptionist rather than to someone who can fix the problem herself. We pose the question to her, we wait while she asks someone else, and she comes back a few minutes later with an answer. Then we ask a follow-up or clarifying question, we wait again while she asks someone else, and she comes back in a few minutes with an answer. Or she assigns a ticket number, and an answer comes back on e-mail a day or so later. So, it was hard to get used to not talking to a technician directly, especially when we need a quick answer as we’re trying to begin a test session without too much delay.

3. When a candidate wanted to re-schedule her tests for a different week, we had trouble doing that in the TASC Online Registration System. We thought we changed her dates, but when we tried to search for her name, we couldn’t find it. When we searched for the new dates, she wasn’t listed. So we couldn’t check her in and learn what test forms she was assigned. We ended up giving her a form without the Online Registration System telling us which to use. I called the Help Desk, and although the receptionist couldn’t explain how I would find this candidate’s name to check her in, she was able to ask a technician to assign the form we actually gave her.

I am certainly not angry at the Help Desk receptionists (although I confess I probably sounded impatient with them at times). I am discovering, though, that the webinars from CTB McGraw-Hill were informative and useful as demonstrations. But I might have benefitted from some hands-on, interactive training on the TASC Online Registration system, as well as a full manual with screenshots, before registering candidates and administering the TASC the first time.

As soon as the TASC Online Reporting Dashboard became available, we eagerly got logged in to check candidates’ results. That very day, we learned that both of our adult education students from our program who took the TASC passed quite convincingly. Of the other three, “walk-in,” candidates, two passed. (One of them failed the math test.)

One of the students entered our program in January 2014 at age 18, pre-tested at 12.9 in all four TABE subjects, and attended class for 16 hours. She passed TASC. The other student who passed the TASC was a 21-year-old who also entered our classes in January 2014, pre-tested at 12.9 in math, 9.4 in reading, and 9.8 in language. He spent 12 hours of attendance in our program and took the TASC before post-testing. (UGH!)

What Our Candidates Are Saying:

Sean R. (22 years old)
It’s very hard. I would definitely study up on math. Take all the pre-tests. Definitely study up on the Science. The Reading wasn’t so bad; the Writing wasn’t so bad. The essay was kind of hard.

Larry D. (22 years old)
It’s definitely not what they said it would be. Study everything! Some of was easy, like the reading where you read a passage and fill in the blank. Other than that, you just better study real hard for it. Don’t come in here thinking you’re going to pass it without studying. Just go to school so you don’t have to do this. The Math: there’s nothing on that Math that you will use in everyday life: fractions and equations; “What does x equal; what does y equal?” and they don’t give you anything to make Jackie C. (20 years old)
Right now, it doesn’t feel too much different than the GED was. I would say make sure you study to know what you’re getting into. It definitely gets your brain working. I found the math section a little difficult if you have never done any kind of algebra. Of the whole netire test, I would say definitely study the Math. I definitely know the math section is what they’re teaching in school. So I would say study that. I think the Reading and Writing are common sense.

D’narea H. (21 years old)
It’s different. I feel like the Reading section is long; very long. I don’t’ think we get enough time because of how long the passages and story are. I feel like the Writing section was more reading than correcting spelling, punctuation marks. I don’t feel it was Writing. I don’t think there was enough time for the essay. I feel like we shouldn’t read two stories and argue about them with the time we had. I don’t feel we had enough time to do as much as we equal to.