August 24, 2020
Helping Parents with Their Children's Education
By Carol Clymer, Beth McLean, and Emily Wolfe of the Family Pathways Program, Goodling Institute, Penn State University
Organizations that provide family literacy programs are likely aware of how acutely important our programs have become during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents have been anxious about having to oversee both their children’s and their own education. In addition, many parents need assistance communicating with schools and teachers to help their children with online instruction and learning. Challenges such as these are also true for many learners in other adult education programs. The Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Penn State has suggestions and resources for adult education programs to use with parents during the coming year.

School administrators have been faced with unprecedented decisions about how to safely educate children during COVID-19. Across the state, school districts are choosing a range of instructional models that include full in-person classes, blended approaches with online and face-to-face learning, and full remote learning models. Adult education programs working with parents are uniquely positioned to assist parents in navigating this unfamiliar instructional territory.

Programs can provide contextual lessons about connecting and communicating with schools, while also helping parents navigate online resources to keep children engaged and learning. For example, from March until the present, our Family Pathways instructor, Emily Wolfe, used messages that were on the school district’s website, teachers’ websites, and emails sent directly to the parents to help them learn and practice English, as well as understand what was happening in school. At the beginning of COVID-19, lessons were related to a potential “return- to-school” and what their children were expected to do at home. More recently, lessons related to return options (face-to-face, virtual learning, and cyber learning). To practice writing, parents wrote to principals and superintendents about questions and concerns. Lessons included topics such as elements of persuasive letters and conventions (e.g., how to address the principal/superintendent, whom to copy on the letter, informal vs. formal writing), critically reading an email to understand the purpose and content, or vocabulary development on terms such as synchronous and asynchronous learning.

At the start of the statewide shelter-in-place, the Goodling Institute provided a list of online resources ( for instructors and learners related to adult education, parent education, early childhood/school-age learning, and parent-child interactive literacy activities. Programs can use these supplemental learning tools which provide online resources about how to engage children in a variety of learning activities. For example, Reading Rockets ( provides reading tips for children from birth to grade three. Khan Academy Kids ( offers education assistance for school-age children on many different subjects. Goodling staff also hosted a webinar about Family Pathway’s transition from face-to-face to remote instruction. The webinar ( outlines and discusses strategies and challenges faced by the instructors during the quick transition.

For more information contact: Emily Wolfe at
Family Literacy
COVID-19 Exposes the Need for Family Literacy Programming
The case in favor of family literacy support is made strongly in an article from the EdTech Center @ World Education. In a time when COVID-19 has caused schools to move to remote learning, a great burden of education has shifted to the home and family. Family literacy programs have prepared and will continue to prepare parents to support their children's learning at home.
Remote Instruction Resources for Family Literacy Programs
The Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy has published an updated version of their extensive list of remote instructional resources. Broken down into categories like "Communicating with Families," "Parent Education Resources," and "Early Childhood/School-Age Resources," the nine-page list offers solutions to many family literacy challenges, and new items on the list are highlighted.
Parents Can Use Wonderopolis at Home
The website is a creation of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and poses a daily question, or Wonder of the Day, which can be explored through the website. Parents and teachers alike can use Wonderopolis to foster curiosity and work on literacy skills at home or in the classroom.
Texting Parents to Boost Kids' Reading Scores
Can Simple Text Messages for Parents Boost Reading Scores for Kids? That is the question that a pilot program sought to answer by sending literacy-related texts to parents. They found that families who received the texts showed gains on reading exams as well as increased parental involvement at home and in the child's education.
Website Use Survey - PA Adult Education Resources
Please take a moment to complete a brief survey. The Communication Project's goal is to make the PA Adult Education Resources website an effective and easy-to-use tool for all adult education practitioners. They will use the results of this survey to guide the improvement of website content.
Teaching Tips and Resources
Digital Foundation Skills Framework Portfolio
As modes of instruction change, many programs may struggle with incorporating workforce preparation activities into lessons and other student activities. The new digital Foundation Skills Framework (FSF) Portfolio might be one way program staff can provide opportunities for students to connect classroom and distance learning to workforce preparation. The digital portfolio serves as a tool to help students independently identify, monitor, and record progress with skills in all four categories of the FSF. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the FSF Portfolio, contact Chrissie Klinger at Chrissie is also available to provide technical assistance to adult education practitioners on ways to use the portfolio with adult learners. For a preview of the digital FSF Portfolio, watch this video.
High School Equivalency (HSE) Updates and Resources
Updates Regarding the Online Proctored GED® Test
The pilot of the Online Proctored GED® test is underway this summer, and 1,445 students have already earned a GED® credential using the online proctored test as of August 4. GED Testing Service® has provided a detailed list of updates and information, as well as a webinar recorded August 12, that can answer many questions about the current state of and plans for the Online Proctored GED® test.
Using the On-Screen Whiteboard in the Online Proctored GED® Test
Test-takers have access to an on-screen whiteboard throughout all exams. Pearson VUE has a website that not only answers questions about this whiteboard feature, but has a version of the whiteboard that test-takers can get acquainted with ahead of time.
Professional Development Opportunities
Professional Learning for Adult Education and Family Literacy Staff
Staff at PDE-funded adult education and family literacy agencies can view a list of upcoming courses now available for enrollment in the PD Portal. For more information about any of these courses, please visit the PD Portal, open the course catalog, and review the syllabus. If you are interested in enrolling in a course, please consult with your in-house professional development specialist (IHPDS) to determine if the course meets your professional learning goals.
Friday Lunchtime Webinars
This program year, the Professional Development System will be facilitating weekly webinars for agency staff of PDE-funded Adult Basic Education or Family Literacy programs. These webinars will take place each Friday from September 4, 2020 through June 11, 2021. They will be held from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. In order to make good use of this weekly meeting and to help agency staff, there will be a rotating schedule of topics each month.

  • First Friday of each month: The MIS Data Support Project will host a webinar geared to data quality specialists.
  • Second Friday of each month: The Professional Learning Opportunities Project will host a webinar geared to in-house professional development specialists (Attendance is required).
  • Third Friday of each month: The Distance Education Technical Assistance Project and the Technology Project will alternate between distance education and digital literacy topics.
  • Fourth Friday of each month: The Workforce Liaison Project will alternate between workforce topics and topics geared to student support coordinators.

A new resource room in the PD Portal named "Friday Lunchtime Webinar Resources" will serve as a repository for weekly webinar information including a schedule of webinars, PowerPoints, and webinar recordings as they become available. Agency staff may enroll in "Friday Lunchtime Webinar Resources" in the PD Portal course catalog.
Workforce Development Board and Adult Education Collaboration
A national webinar by COABE on Monday, August 31, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., will provide adult educators with tools and tips for develop meaningful collaborations with local workforce development boards to best serve their adult learners. The webinar will feature Jesse McCree from South Central PA Workforce Development Board, SCPa Works. Register online.
State and National Adult Education News
Webinar: Supporting Enhancements to the NRS
With the National Reporting System for Adult Education (NRS) being opened for changes and public comment, the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) will host a webinar where you can offer your suggestions for improving the system. The webinar will explain the changes that are being considered and how you can contribute. Register online for the Monday, August 28, 2:00 p.m., webinar.
Webinar to Demonstrate the US PIAAC Skills Map
A webinar on Wednesday, August 26 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., held by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), will center on the interactive data tool, US PIAAC Skills Map: State and County Indicators of Adult Literacy and Numeracy. The webinar will include a demonstration of the tool as well as a discussion of potential uses from a policy and research perspective. The Skills Map gives easy access to new information about the literacy and numeracy levels of adults ages 16-74 in all 50 states on a state and county level. Much more specific demographic data can be accessed for use in the adult education field. Learn more and register online.
Grants and Scholarships
PSU's Family Literacy Certificate Scholarships
Scholarships are available for enrollment in Penn State's Family Literacy Certificate (FL) program. This program is a four-course, 12-credit certificate through Penn State's World Campus that helps professionals gain high-quality, research-based knowledge about family literacy in areas such as parent involvement, adult literacy, and early literacy development. Contact Dr. Beth McLean at or 717-432-3498 or learn more online about the FL certificate or the related Adult Basic Education certificate.
Job Posting
The job postings below are for adult basic education programs funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and, at least in part, by WIOA Title II funds. You can also find the postings on the website. To post a job, please email the job advertisement to

There are currently no job postings.
PA Adult Education Resources
Upcoming State and National Conferences
State and National Newsletters
State and national organizations' newsletters are listed below and may be of interest to you. To receive the most recent editions by email, please subscribe directly to the newsletter. 

Families Learning: News of the Week, National Center for Families Learning
Features information and resources for family literacy, early childhood education, and parent education.

OCTAE Connection, US Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, & Adult Education Features news and resources for adult basic, career, and technical education.

WorkforceGPS, Workforce3 One Features career pathways and workforce development information.

COABE Journal, Coalition On Adult Basic Education Features national information, resources, and initiatives for adult basic education.

World Education/U.S. Features resources and information from World Education projects including The Change Agent, College for Adults, E-Learning, LINCS Region 1 Professional Development Center, National College Transitional network, and many others. 

National Center for Families Learning Features news and information related to family literacy