Torrance Adult School

Submitted By: Armando Chavez

South Bay Adult Education Consortium(El Camino)


Type of Practice: Program Development / Curriculum / Classroom

Program Area(s): ABE / ASE

Region: Los Angeles Basin

Consortia Involved: South Bay Adult Education Consortium (El Camino)

The Program of Practice

Over the past decade, Torrance Adult School’s Adult Basic and Secondary Education program has focused on continuously adapting our program to better meet student needs. We noticed a decrease in students taking HSE exams, and an increase in students failing the HSE exams. Furthermore, we also noticed that students were taking longer to complete their high school diploma coursework and a decrease in course completions. In order to address these issues, we integrated our test preparation into credit bearing direct-instruction classes. As we implemented these classes, we noticed that many students faced barriers to accessing these classes.

The Response

Torrance Adult School’s ABE/ASE Department reevaluated our approach to student pathways. We implemented several programmatic changes to help students accelerate their progress toward their goals. Many students enrolled in our HiSet Preparation classes were either reluctant to take the test or did not pass it. In order to better serve these students, we decided to integrate our test-prep into credit-bearing academic courses. In this model, students who suffer from test anxiety or other barriers are able to (1) improve academic skills, (2) increase their subject knowledge in order prepare to pass one of the HSE exams, and (3) earn credit toward their diplomas.

We implemented HyFlex courses across the department in order to meet the needs of students who preferred in-person classes and students who were unable or unwilling to join in-person classes. We have found that the HyFlex offerings have helped students who face barriers in terms of transportation, caregiving responsibilities and scheduling conflicts access our direct instruction classes and accelerate their progress toward their goals.

In order to assist students in accessing our classes from home, we started the Laptop Loaner Program for students to borrow a computer from the school at no cost to them. Because some students lacked the digital literacy skills to access online classes even when they had access to hardware, we piloted an optional “Technology Training for School and Work” class and eventually moved toward incorporating the Northstar digital literacy curriculum across the department.

We are continuing to address barriers to student progress by incorporating digital literacy instruction across the department, providing students with access to laptops, and exploring new curricula (UC Scout) and LMS (Canvas) options.

The Unique Features of the Program

The Torrance Adult School ABE/ASE department uses a digital curriculum to give students 24/7 access to their courses. The department has been using online classes since 2011 with great success. Students have access to both asynchronous and synchronous courses. Asynchronous courses are independent study courses where students work at their own pace. Synchronous courses are teacher-led courses in all subject areas. Furthermore, we offer HSE ‘boot camps’ for students to evaluate and/or improve their readiness for an HSE exam. The most unique feature is that all teacher-directed classes in our program are offered as hyflex courses. In the upcoming 23-24 school year we will begin an accelerated program for students to complete a 5-credit course in as little as 9 weeks as well as courses that take 18 weeks to complete. We are offering different length terms for courses because then students can choose to work at a quicker pace or at a slower pace. Nonetheless, the goals remain the same to have students improve their academic skills, increase subject knowledge for an HSE exam, and earn credits towards their high school diploma using a Hyflex model where students choose to be in the classroom or online.

The Outcome

In the 17-18 school year, Torrance Adult School ABE/ASE program had 409 course completions. The following year we had 457 course completions, then in 19-20, there was a 29.1% decrease to 324. In the 20-21 school year there was just a slight decrease to 318 and then a large decrease the following year to 236 a decrease of 25.8% decrease. In the 22-23 school year with the implementation of the Hyflex model, we increased our course completions to 318 an increase of 34.8%.

HiSet Test takers were also an area of concern because students were taking our prep courses but not taking the test. In the 17-18 school year, we had 299 tests taken and 243 passed for a passing rate of 81.3%. In 18-19, we had a large jump to 512 tests taken and 394 passes for a passing rate of 77%. The following year in 19 -20 we weren’t able to give any tests after February for a full 12 months. In 19-20, there were 224 tests taken with 162 passed for a passing rate of 72.3%. There are already signs showing passing rates are decreasing. In 20-21, only 94 tests were taken and in 21-22, there were 129 tests taken. In 20-21, the passing rate was 59.6% and in 21-22 62.8%. In 22-23, there was a bump in tests taken to 146, 40 more will be taken the last week of June but data won’t be available until mid-July, 109 of the 146 passed the test for a passing rate of 74.66%. Many students told us that the new structure of courses allowed them to attend more consistently, learn more, and be more prepared for the HSE exams.

Since the 17-18 school year, there has been a decline in the number of combined HSE and HSD TAS students have earned. In 17-18 93 students completed one or the other, in 18-19 there were signs of declining student achievement because there was a 33.3% drop to 62 and the following year it dropped to 53. In 20-21 the number continued to drop to 42 then the next school year it dropped to 28, some of these drops these years had to do with all HSE testing halted for a full 12 months. In 22-23, there was a bump up to 36, hopefully, this is a sign of things to come and we continue increasing HSE and HSD earners at TAS.

So far the data is promising that using a hyflex model is a great option for our school. There have been increases across the board of student accomplishment using quantitative data. Using qualitative data our students have told us they like the flexibility that the Hyflex model offers especially during the days when the pandemic was going on. In the future, some students may return to class in person but others enjoy attending class at home for many different reasons and if we continue having success with this model Hyflex classes will continue being at the core of our program.