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Adult Basic Education improves skills, changes lives

By Jon Núñez and Kathy Siebring

Have you ever traveled to a foreign country and found it difficult to read and understand menus or street signs? Was it impossible to communicate with the locals? Believe it or not, there are people in our own communities who face this situation every day, and it’s not necessarily due to a language barrier. Adult basic education skills are something most of us don’t think about daily, but those skills definitely make a daily impact.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, 8.6 percent (207,963 residents) of Iowa’s adult population neither graduated from high school nor earned a high school equivalency diploma. The survey also documents that Iowa has more than 100,000 residents with limited English skills.

In 2017, the 15 community colleges in Iowa served 11,688 Adult Basic Education program participants. Of those, 4,853 students attended English acquisition (ESL) classes and 6,835 attended high school equivalency courses. These programs awarded 1,718 High School Equivalency Diplomas last year.

Iowa Valley Community College District served 563 individuals in 2017, 363 in English acquisition (ESL) classes and 200 in Adult Basic Education, awarding 65 High School Equivalency Diplomas in our four-county area.

Iowa Valley Continuing Education has five satellite locations. These locations include Eldora (State Training School), Grinnell, Iowa Falls, Tama and downtown Marshalltown. The mission of these programs is to prepare individuals for postsecondary education and for fulfilling careers through English language learning and high school equivalency classes. The IVCE staff works to increase individuals’ self-sufficiency while embracing diversity.

Adult Basic Education provides many services to residents in the communities in which we live, including:

  • Basic Skills Instruction in reading, writing, math, listening, and speaking.
  • HSED Test Preparation in science, social studies, mathematics, language arts-reading, language arts-writing, and calculator training.
  • Official Practice Test (OPT) Administration for documenting readiness to take the HiSET™ test.
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages in pre-literacy, reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, U.S. history and government, and cultural literacy.
  • College Readiness Skills Instruction in organization and time management, technology, goal-setting, test-taking skills, and self-advocacy.
  • Job Readiness Skills Instruction in goal-setting, career planning, personal work attributes, employee rights and responsibilities, job search strategies, and unemployment survival.
  • Computer Literacy Skills in keyboarding, word processing and other introductory skills.

Iowa Valley’s staff is dedicated to serving the community. Let us be your first step to a brighter future!

For more information call the Iowa Valley Education & Training Center at (641) 754-1348.

Jon Núñez (Director of Adult Literacy Programs) and Kathy Siebring (Career Instructor Coordinator) serve students at the Iowa Valley Education & Training Center, 206 E. Church St., Marshalltown.

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