(Written by Jason Marshal, Director of Education at YouthBuild USA)

YouthBuild instructors are working to help YouthBuild learners reach higher standards on GED (General Educational Development), HiSET (High School Equivalency Test), TASC (Testing Assessing Secondary Completion), and high school diploma assessments across the country.  New tests more closely aligned with Common Core State Standards(CCSS) require educators to incorporate a range of instructional shifts into their classrooms.

We know that recent emphasis on College and Career Readiness  and the new high school equivalency exams has transformed the way math is learned and taught. Instead of requiring students to memorize and compute a multitude of mathematical formulas, math education now emphasizes students’ deep understanding of a few mathematical concepts and the ability to flexibly apply these concepts to real-life situations.

The GED mathematical reasoning test focuses on two major content areas: quantitative problem solving and algebraic problem solving. The test focuses more on deeper, more conceptual understanding of mathematics, including procedural skill and fluency and the ability to apply these fundamentals in realistic situations.

You can find the most recent resources and web sites dealing with the new high school equivalency tests, including testing information within your specific state, worksheets and instructional activities that support instructional shifts needed to prepare students for these new exams, and links to lesson plans and projects that address CCSS skills here:Resources and Websites.  YouthBuild educators have recently begun documenting Lesson Plans and Instructional Activities built around High School Equivalency and CCSS skills so that you have access to practical tools that have worked in other YouthBuild classrooms.  States may allow one or several of these high school equivalency tests to be used.  Please make sure you are aware of which tests are allowable in your state.  So long as the test is state-approved, you can use it in your YouthBuild program.

Lastly, we invite you to visit the Instructional Shifts page to learn about these approaches as well as the FAQ page to learn specific information about the GED, TASC and HiSET tests and adapt strategies to ensure that all YouthBuild program staff have a role in supporting student success.

DOL remains deeply appreciative of the hard work educators do every day in local YouthBuild programs across the country. As the bar for student success continues to be raised, so does the already considerable work load for talented educators. DOL hopes to support educators whenever and wherever we can so that you can best empower learners in your programs. For additional questions and resources, please contact Jason Marshall at jmarshall@youthbuild.org.

For more information and to hear from the experts, please register for the upcoming Webinar High School Equivalency Instruction in Action: ELA and Math Lessons.  During the webinar on June 14th, we will review two webcasts and the specific ways instructional leaders in math and ELA adjusted their classroom practice in order to help learners reach higher and achieve stronger outcomes.  The review will be followed by a collaborative conversation with YouthBuild USA staff, local program staff, educators and Department of Labor staff to discuss lessons learned and implications for these instructional shifts.