Getting Ready An Orientation to Adult Education (Insert program name here.) Preface



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Notes: The descriptors are entry-level descriptors and are illustrative of what a typical student functioning at that level should be able to do. They are not a full description of skills for the level. ABLE = Adult Basic Learning Examination; CASAS = Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System; SPL = student performance levels; and TABE = Test of Adult Basic Education.

Functioning Level Table
(Continued)


Outcome Measures Definitions

Educational Functioning Level DescriptorsAdult Basic Education Levels
Literacy Level

Basic Reading and Writing

Numeracy Skills

Functional and Workplace Skills

Low Intermediate Basic Education

Test Benchmark:

TABE (7–8 and 9–10) scale scores
(grade level 4–5.9):

Reading: 461–517

Total Math: 442–505

Language: 491–523



CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 211–220

Math: 211–220

Writing: 226–242



ABLE scale scores (grade level 4–5.9):

Reading: 613–644

Math: 593–641


Individual can read text on familiar subjects that have a simple and clear underlying structure (e.g., clear main idea, chronological order); can use context to determine meaning; can interpret actions required in specific written directions; can write simple paragraphs with a main idea and supporting details on familiar topics (e.g., daily activities, personal issues) by recombining learned vocabulary and structures; and can self and peer edit for spelling and punctuation errors.

Individual can perform with high accuracy all four basic math operations using whole numbers up to three digits and can identify and use all basic mathematical symbols.

Individual is able to handle basic reading, writing, and computational tasks related to life roles, such as completing medical forms, order forms, or job applications; and can read simple charts, graphs, labels, and payroll stubs and simple authentic material if familiar with the topic. The individual can use simple computer programs and perform a sequence of routine tasks given direction using technology (e.g., fax machine, computer operation). The individual can qualify for entry level jobs that require following basic written instructions and diagrams with assistance, such as oral clarification; can write a short report or message to fellow workers; and can read simple dials and scales and take routine measurements.

High Intermediate Basic Education

Test Benchmark:

TABE (7–8 and 9–10) scale scores
(grade level 6–8.9):

Reading: 518–566

Total Math: 506–565

Language: 524–559



CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 221–235

Math: 221–235

Writing: 243–260



ABLE scale score (grade level 6–8.9):

Reading: 646–680

Math: 643–693

WorkKeys scale scores:

Reading for Information: 75–78

Writing: 75–77

Applied Mathematics: 75–77



Individual is able to read simple descriptions and narratives on familiar subjects or from which new vocabulary can be determined by context and can make some minimal inferences about familiar texts and compare and contrast information from such texts but not consistently. The individual can write simple narrative descriptions and short essays on familiar topics and has consistent use of basic punctuation but makes grammatical errors with complex structures.

Individual can perform all four basic math operations with whole numbers and fractions; can determine correct math operations for solving narrative math problems and can convert fractions to decimals and decimals to fractions; and can perform basic operations on fractions.

Individual is able to handle basic life skills tasks such as graphs, charts, and labels and can follow multistep diagrams; can read authentic materials on familiar topics, such as simple employee handbooks and payroll stubs; can complete forms such as a job application and reconcile a bank statement. Can handle jobs that involve following simple written instructions and diagrams; can read procedural texts, where the information is supported by diagrams, to remedy a problem, such as locating a problem with a machine or carrying out repairs using a repair manual. The individual can learn or work with most basic computer software, such as using a word processor to produce own texts, and can follow simple instructions for using technology.




Functioning Level Table
(Continued)


Outcome Measures Definitions

Educational Functioning Level DescriptorsAdult Secondary Education Levels
Literacy Level

Basic Reading and Writing

Numeracy Skills

Functional and Workplace Skills

Low Adult Secondary Education

Test Benchmark:

TABE (7–8 and 9–10): scale scores
(grade level 9–10.9):

Reading: 567–595

Total Math: 566–594

Language: 560–585



CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 236–245

Math: 236–245

Writing: 261–270



ABLE scale scores (grade level 9–10.9):

Reading: 682–697

Math: 694–716

WorkKeys scale scores:

Reading for Information: 79–81

Writing: 78–85

Applied Mathematics: 78–81



Individual can comprehend expository writing and identify spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors; can comprehend a variety of materials such as periodicals and nontechnical journals on common topics; can comprehend library reference materials and compose multiparagraph essays; can listen to oral instructions and write an accurate synthesis of them; and can identify the main idea in reading selections and use a variety of context issues to determine meaning. Writing is organized and cohesive with few mechanical errors; can write using a complex sentence structure; and can write personal notes and letters that accurately reflect thoughts.

Individual can perform all basic math functions with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions; can interpret and solve simple algebraic equations, tables, and graphs and can develop own tables and graphs; and can use math in business transactions.

Individual is able or can learn to follow simple multistep directions and read common legal forms and manuals; can integrate information from texts, charts, and graphs; can create and use tables and graphs; can complete forms and applications and complete resumes; can perform jobs that require interpreting information from various sources and writing or explaining tasks to other workers; is proficient using computers and can use most common computer applications; can understand the impact of using different technologies; and can interpret the appropriate use of new software and technology.

High Adult Secondary Education

Test Benchmark:

TABE (7–8 and 9–10): scale scores
(grade level 11–12):

Reading: 596 and above

Total Math: 595 and above

Language: 586 and above



CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 246 and above

Math: 246 and above

Writing: 271 and above



ABLE scale scores (grade level 11–12):

Reading: 699 and above

Math: 717 and above

WorkKeys scale scores:

Reading for Information: 82–90

Writing: 86–90

Applied Mathematics: 82–90



Individual can comprehend, explain, and analyze information from a variety of literacy works, including primary source materials and professional journals, and can use context cues and higher order processes to interpret meaning of written material. Writing is cohesive with clearly expressed ideas supported by relevant detail, and individual can use varied and complex sentence structures with few mechanical errors.

Individual can make mathematical estimates of time and space and can apply principles of geometry to measure angles, lines, and surfaces and can also apply trigonometric functions.

Individual is able to read technical information and complex manuals; can comprehend some college level books and apprenticeship manuals; can function in most job situations involving higher order thinking; can read text and explain a procedure about a complex and unfamiliar work procedure, such as operating a complex piece of machinery; can evaluate new work situations and processes; and can work productively and collaboratively in groups and serve as facilitator and reporter of group work. The individual is able to use common software and learn new software applications; can define the purpose of new technology and software and select appropriate technology; can adapt use of software or technology to new situations; and can instruct others, in written or oral form, on software and technology use.



Functioning Level Table
(Continued)


Outcome Measures Definitions

Educational Functioning Level DescriptorsEnglish as a Second Language Levels
Literacy Level

Listening and Speaking

Basic Reading and Writing

Functional and Workplace Skills

Beginning ESL Literacy

Test Benchmark:

CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 180 and below

Listening: 180 and below

Oral BEST: 0–15 (SPL 0–1)

BEST Plus: 400 and below (SPL 0–1)

BEST Literacy: 0–7 (SPL 0–1)



Individual cannot speak or understand English, or understands only isolated words or phrases.

Individual has no or minimal reading or writing skills in any language. May have little or no comprehension of how print corresponds to spoken language and may have difficulty using a writing instrument.

Individual functions minimally or not at all in English and can communicate only through gestures or a few isolated words, such as name and other personal information; may recognize only common signs or symbols (e.g., stop sign, product logos); can handle only very routine entry-level jobs that do not require oral or written communication in English. There is no knowledge or use of computers or technology.

Low Beginning ESL

Test benchmark:

CASAS scale scores

Reading: 181–190

Listening: 181–190

Writing: 136–145

Oral BEST 16–28 (SPL 2)

BEST Plus: 401–417 (SPL 2)

BEST Literacy: 8–35 (SPL 2)


Individual can understand basic greetings, simple phrases and commands. Can understand simple questions related to personal information, spoken slowly and with repetition. Understands a limited number of words related to immediate needs and can respond with simple learned phrases to some common questions related to routine survival situations. Speaks slowly and with difficulty. Demonstrates little or no control over grammar.


Individual can read numbers and letters and some common sight words. May be able to sound out simple words. Can read and write some familiar words and phrases, but has a limited understanding of connected prose in English. Can write basic personal information (e.g., name, address, telephone number) and can complete simple forms that elicit this information.


Individual functions with difficulty in social situations and in situations related to immediate needs. Can provide limited personal information on simple forms, and can read very simple common forms of print found in the home and environment, such as product names. Can handle routine entry level jobs that require very simple written or oral English communication and in which job tasks can be demonstrated. May have limited knowledge and experience with computers.

High Beginning ESL

Test benchmark:

CASAS scale scores

Reading: 191–200

Listening: 191–200

Writing: 146–200

Oral BEST 29–41 (SPL 3)

BEST Plus: 418–438 (SPL 3)

BEST Literacy: 36–46 (SPL 3)


Individual can understand common words, simple phrases, and sentences containing familiar vocabulary, spoken slowly with some repetition. Individual can respond to simple questions about personal everyday activities, and can express immediate needs, using simple learned phrases or short sentences. Shows limited control of grammar.


Individual can read most sight words, and many other common words. Can read familiar phrases and simple sentences but has a limited understanding of connected prose and may need frequent re-reading.
Individual can write some simple sentences with limited vocabulary. Meaning may be unclear. Writing shows very little control of basic grammar, capitalization and punctuation and has many spelling errors.

Individual can function in some situations related to immediate needs and in familiar social situations. Can provide basic personal information on simple forms and recognizes simple common forms of print found in the home, workplace and community. Can handle routine entry level jobs requiring basic written or oral English communication and in which job tasks can be demonstrated. May have limited knowledge or experience using computers.

Low Intermediate ESL

Test Benchmark:

CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 201–210

Listening: 201–210

Writing: 201–225

Oral BEST: 42–50 (SPL 4)

BEST Plus: 439–472 (SPL 4)

BEST Literacy: 47–53 (SPL 4)


Individual can understand simple learned phrases and limited new phrases containing familiar vocabulary spoken slowly with frequent repetition; can ask and respond to questions using such phrases; can express basic survival needs and participate in some routine social conversations, although with some difficulty; and has some control of basic grammar.

Individual can read simple material on familiar subjects and comprehend simple and compound sentences in single or linked paragraphs containing a familiar vocabulary; can write simple notes and messages on familiar situations but lacks clarity and focus. Sentence structure lacks variety but shows some control of basic grammar (e.g., present and past tense) and consistent use of punctuation (e.g., periods, capitalization).

Individual can interpret simple directions and schedules, signs, and maps; can fill out simple forms but needs support on some documents that are not simplified; and can handle routine entry level jobs that involve some written or oral English communication but in which job tasks can be demonstrated. Individual can use simple computer programs and can perform a sequence of routine tasks given directions using technology (e.g., fax machine, computer).

High Intermediate ESL

Test Benchmark:

CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 211–220

Listening: 211–220

Writing: 226–242

Oral BEST: 51–57 (SPL 5)

BEST Plus: 473–506 (SPL 5)

BEST Literacy: 54–65 (SPL 5-6)


Individual can understand learned phrases and short new phrases containing familiar vocabulary spoken slowly and with some repetition; can communicate basic survival needs with some help; can participate in conversation in limited social situations and use new phrases with hesitation; and relies on description and concrete terms. There is inconsistent control of more complex grammar.

Individual can read text on familiar subjects that have a simple and clear underlying structure (e.g., clear main idea, chronological order); can use context to determine meaning; can interpret actions required in specific written directions; can write simple paragraphs with main idea and supporting details on familiar topics (e.g., daily activities, personal issues) by recombining learned vocabulary and structures; and can self and peer edit for spelling and punctuation errors.

Individual can meet basic survival and social needs, can follow some simple oral and written instruction, and has some ability to communicate on the telephone on familiar subjects; can write messages and notes related to basic needs; can complete basic medical forms and job applications; and can handle jobs that involve basic oral instructions and written communication in tasks that can be clarified orally. Individual can work with or learn basic computer software, such as word processing, and can follow simple instructions for using technology.

Advanced ESL

Test Benchmark:

CASAS scale scores:

Reading: 221–235

Listening: 221–235

Writing: 243–260

Oral BEST 58–64 (SPL 6)

BEST Plus: 507–540 (SPL 6)

BEST Literacy: 66 and above (SPL 7)
Exit Criteria:
CASAS Reading and Listening: 236 and above

CASAS Writing: 261 and above

Oral BEST 65 and above (SPL 7)

BEST Plus: 541 and above (SPL 7)



Individual can understand and communicate in a variety of contexts related to daily life and work. Can understand and participate in conversation on a variety of everyday subjects, including some unfamiliar vocabulary, but may need repetition or rewording. Can clarify own or others’ meaning by rewording. Can understand the main points of simple discussions and informational communication in familiar contexts. Shows some ability to go beyond learned patterns and construct new sentences. Shows control of basic grammar but has difficulty using more complex structures. Has some basic fluency of speech.

Individual can read moderately complex text related to life roles and descriptions and narratives from authentic materials on familiar subjects. Uses context and word analysis skills to understand vocabulary, and uses multiple strategies to understand unfamiliar texts. Can make inferences, predictions, and compare and contrast information in familiar texts. Individual can write multi-paragraph text (e.g., organizes and develops ideas with clear introduction, body, and conclusion), using some complex grammar and a variety of sentence structures. Makes some grammar and spelling errors. Uses a range of vocabulary.


Individual can function independently to meet most survival needs and to use English in routine social and work situations. Can communicate on the telephone on familiar subjects. Understands radio and television on familiar topics. Can interpret routine charts, tables and graphs and can complete forms and handle work demands that require non-technical oral and written instructions and routine interaction with the public. Individual can use common software, learn new basic applications, and select the correct basic technology in familiar situations.


Self-Assessment

Appendix C



Adapted from Cabell County, WV

ABE Program





Appendix D







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