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Program helps adults gain GED, learn English and prepare for college

Steve Parizek and Gaby Postiglione are two of the people involved with the Adult Basic Education courses in Hastings. (Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn)

Hastings School District 200 has had the Adult Basic Education program in place for more than 20 years. It helps adults earn their GED, learn English (as a second language), and prepare for college and or technical colleges. The free programs are funded by the state and federal government.

Now, there is a renewed push by the program coordinator Gaby Postiglione, and her instructors Steve Parizek and Bill Postiglione, to get the word out to the community about the programs offered at the Tilden Community Center.

One major reason for the push is one of timing of new GED tests for participants.

"They will be changing - there will be new tests as of next January," said Postiglione. "The current tests they have completed do not carry over."

The new tests in the areas of literacy, mathematics, science and social studies are going to be different. They are going to be more difficult, Postiglione said.

"The new battery of tests will continue to provide adults the opportunity to earn a high school credential, but it goes further by measuring career and college readiness," she said. "There will be two essays required in the new test."

"There is going to be more emphasis on critical thinking," said Parizek. "The changes are going to much more difficult."

The new tests will involve more advanced math and more fill-in-the-blank responses. The tests will also be computerized with no paper option. As such, it means the cost will increase. Currently, each subject area of the GED testing costs $25. The new cost has not yet been determined, said Postiglione.

The tests are definitely going to be more rigorous, said Postiglione.

"That's why everyone who has already begun taking the GED needs to finish this year," she said. "That is why we are trying to get as many people back in the class so they can pass the test."

Many of the adults who come to the ABE program need the GED to remain employed or get employed. The ESL program primarily helps adults who are coming from another culture to live here. The college preparation classes are for students wanting to attend college. The classes help them prepare or improve their college entrance exam scores, write resumes and learn more about available college programs and job searches.

The GED preparation classes are offered from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursday and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. The GED program also holds classes at the Dakota County Jail in Hastings. An initial assessment is completed for each student and each student works at his own pace.

This is not a lecture classroom, Parizek stressed. Neither he nor Postiglione do that. Rather it is more one-on-one and small groups.

The ESL class is held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with the college prep class available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

To help interested people learn more about the programs, the adult basic education program will hold an open house from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at the community center. The evening is for people wanting to learn more about the different programs. The staff wants to gain input about class times and needs.

Attendees will be able to tour the classrooms, meet the staff, register for classes and register for the GED tests.

Free pizza will be served.

For more information, interested people can call the program at 480-7677, or stop by mornings.