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HiSet test is a high point for literacy program

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A devastating funding cut created huge challenges for the Delta County Libraries' literacy program in the last few months. As district staff struggles to find alternate funding sources to help preserve high school equivalency education, English as a Second Language programs, and valuable teaching jobs, literacy administrator Gail Srebnik is hanging on to any positive news.

Recently, one area of the literacy program has given her something to appreciate: high school equivalency testing. "I cannot deny how bad I feel about the literacy program leaving so many adults without services and losing so many good teachers," Srebnik says. "I am, though, thrilled to be able to still award diplomas to adults completing the HiSET exams."

In December 2015, the Colorado State Board of Education voted to allow alternative forms of high school equivalency tests in the state, providing students with choices beyond the well-known GED test. Srebnik quickly began to work with HiSET, one of the alternatives, to provide a testing site in Delta County, where previously there was none. After months of work setting up the test site, Srebnik is happy to announce that the first two adult learners have passed the HiSET test, and more are in the process.

Josh Hallenbeck passed the test last month, achieving his high school equivalency diploma after working with library district literacy teacher Julee Skinner. He readily described his experience. "I was glad to have the opportunity to study for this test and it feels great to have gotten it done," he says. "I now look forward to taking some college courses."

Srebnik anticipates more success stories like Hallenbeck's, as Delta County Libraries will continue to provide the test. "The HiSET testing site is at the Delta Library. Though my job is changing, I am the administrator of HiSET exams and will continue to do the testing for folks. The test can be taken in either English or Spanish."

HiSET has a number of flexible options that make the test approachable for hesitant students of all ages. While there is a cost for the test, vouchers are available for students who need financial assistance. Additionally, the cost covers a full year of retakes for those who require more than one try to pass some or all of the five sections.

Students can prepare for the test on their own, or they may utilize the guidance of an instructor. Ann Stewart is facilitating a distance learning class for the library district, and students may choose to work with her. Those wanting to study for and attempt the test on their own should contact Srebnik, who can provide a link to the HiSET test preparation website. The site provides practice tests and the resources to brush up on all the skills necessary to pass the test.

Srebnik is still trying to find funding for English as a Second Language classes, as well as a way to ensure that all adult learners continue to have access to the resources they need in Delta County. Hopefully this effort will result in many more achievements and opportunities for Delta County residents.

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