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Spanish High School Equivalency Resource

The VDOE Director’s Memo NO. 037-21, issued in June 2021, clarified that Spanish High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation classes are an allowable activity according to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Spanish HSE FAQs:

All FAQ responses are labeled according to where the information came from. “VALRC” indicates responses that came from dialogues in VALRC’s Spanish HSE open discussions and reflects local programs’ and partners’ experiences with Spanish HSE. “VDOE” denotes guidance from our Virginia state office. “NRS” relates directly to federal guidance. These responses will continue to be updated as Spanish HSE instruction is piloted and expanded on by adult education programs in Virginia.

For a more in-depth look at the recommendations and strategies shared during VALRC’s Spanish HSE Open Discussions, please see this Google Doc resource.

Program Planning & Design FAQs:

VDOE: The VDOE expects that providers across the Commonwealth will pilot a variety of program designs and scenarios to meet the needs of their students. The VDOE will continue to provide opportunities to share promising practices. We remain committed to assisting students to be prepared for further education, training, and employment and to participate in civic life; we recognize that proficiency in English is critical to all of these major purposes of WIOA. 

VALRC: Both adult education programs and community organizations have shared strategies for recruiting and training instructors for Spanish HSE. The following recommendations are derived from those suggestions.

  • Co-Teach: Instructors should speak Spanish; however, if needed, non-Spanish speaking instructors, who are subject matter experts, can also be brought into the classroom. There was an example of this shared by one adult education program that decided to bring in an advanced math instructor to support their Spanish HSE instructor with higher-level math concepts. This instructor was supported by the Spanish HSE instructor and used a curriculum that is the same in English and Spanish so that learners could follow along in Spanish. 
  • Recruit from the Community: Programs can look into the Latinx community to find professionals who were instructors or content area experts in their home countries. The most important factor is that they have the content area knowledge. Instructional strategies can be taught through professional development.
  • Recruit from the K-12 School System: One program shared that they contacted their local K-12 Spanish language teachers by sending out an email blast to recruit them to teach Spanish HSE classes. 
  • Train with the GED® Practice Test: Hannah Bishop from Sacred Heart Center shared that their Spanish HSE program has seen more success since training instructors with the GED® practice test. This training helps instructors understand exactly how learners will need to apply their reading, writing, and math skills while taking the test. It also supports instructors in understanding what test taking strategies and digital literacy concepts need to be integrated into their Spanish HSE instruction.
  • Attend Tuesdays for Teachers: This is a professional development series for GED®  instructors that is facilitated by GED® .

More information on Spanish HSE instructor recruitment can be in this PROGRESS article written by Hannah Bishop from Sacred Heart Center.

VALRC: These are recommendations from partner organizations as well as adult education programs who have piloted Spanish HSE classes:

  • Offer 15 week courses with at least 6 hours of instruction per week
  • Divide classes into two levels:
    • Level One: Basic math skills & reading comprehension 
    • Level Two: High-level critical thinking skills & science and social studies
  • Divide instruction by content area: half of the class hours spent on math and half spent on reading comprehension
    • Alternatively, have learners focus on one content area at a time
  • Utilize co-enrollment: Schedule Spanish HSE classes so that they do not conflict with ESOL classes
  • Consider offering virtual classes to reach more learners


  • Recruit from ESOL classes 
  • Connect with community-based organizations (including faith-based organizations)
  • Advertise to parents by communicating with local K-12 school systems
  • Attend local community events 
  • Advertise in Spanish 
  • Partner with employers using GED® Works
  • Utilize social media 
  • Partner with local Career Works Centers
  • Hold a separate orientation for Spanish GED so that content is in Spanish and program requirements and expectations are clear.


Want to share another potential partner for Spanish HSE classes? Email us at vdesk@vcu.edu, and we can add that information here!

Assessment FAQs:

NRS: Learners who are interested in Spanish HSE preparation classes have to take an NRS approved assessment so that they can be reported in NRS and counted towards a programs’ enrollment.

VALRC: Some programs have found success using the CASAS Math Goals assessment for potential Spanish HSE learners. The math test is more accessible for learners who may or may not have proficiency in English. Regardless, programs still need to assess learners using an NRS approved assessment.

Programs need to have a plan for assessing learners for NRS and reporting purposes as well as a plan for assessing HSE readiness. There should be differentiation between the NRS assessment and diagnostic assessments.

VDOE: This Jamboard is the policy question parking lot for Spanish HSE. Any policy questions can be submitted there.

VDOE: Programs need to use an assessment in Spanish that assesses a learner’s HSE readiness in Spanish. 

VALRC: Some assessments that programs are piloting are:

  • GED Ready® 
  • CASAS Spanish Reading 

VALRC: Some programs are using the CASAS Spanish Reading test at intake and then a couple weeks into the class having learners also take the GED Ready® in Spanish in order to get a better assessment of where learners are in relation to where they need to be to take their HSE exams.

VDOE: This Jamboard is the policy question parking lot for Spanish HSE. Any policy questions can be submitted there.

VDOE: Learners seeking Spanish HSE preparation classes who do not test into the secondary level may be in need of Spanish literacy instruction. For our adult education AEFLA funded programs, Spanish literacy instruction is not an allowable activity. 

VALRC: In order to meet this learner need, some programs have started to build partnerships with other community organizations who are able and do offer Spanish literacy instruction. With these partnerships, adult education programs are planning to create a referral program with these organizations so that once learners are ready for Spanish HSE preparation they are referred back to the adult education program. 

VALRC: Programs may also consider referring learners to their own English language classes that will help them progress toward HSE readiness. It is important to include screening for goals and proficiencies as part of intake to advise learners on the best pathway for them to achieve their desired outcomes.

VALRC: Programs can provide learners with an incentive to take the NRS approved assessment. An incentive is important here because these assessments can seem unrelated to the goal of obtaining their HSE in Spanish due to the fact that they are offered in English and that the content of the test may seem unrelated to that of an HSE exam. 

Possible incentives include:

  • Assessing in Spanish first: First assess in GED®  Ready in Spanish before asking learners to take the NRS approved assessment. This ensures them that the goal is to obtain their HSE and that the program will be in Spanish.
  • Providing materials: If learners complete the pre-test, provide them with free materials such as their  textbook(s) or a calculator
  • Assessing during class: Administer the NRS approved assessment during the first class period and be transparent about the purpose of the test.

In addition to pre-testing, programs can provide incentives for post-testing as well. For example, programs can provide free GED®  vouchers to learners who participate in the post-test.

Instruction FAQs:

VALRC: Virginia adult education programs are piloting Spanish HSE instruction with the following resources:

Print Materials:

Online Platforms/Websites:

For distance education and proxy hours, IXL, GED®  Academy, and Khan Academy have Spanish language options.


  • Reading comprehension 
  • Math 
  • U.S. history for social studies content 
  • Digital literacy skills 
  • Test taking strategies 
  • Critical thinking skills

Programs can identify high impact indicators across subject areas and integrate those into the classroom in order to teach across subject areas.

Additionally, instructors can use the GED® Test Performance Level Descriptors to identify what skills to focus on based on learner levels.

GED® Website and Test FAQs:

The information presented in these FAQs was provided to the Virginia Department of Education by GED® .

When on ged.com, select Spanish at the top right-hand corner of the web page. By doing this, the student profile and everything related to the student activity will be entirely in the Spanish language. There is also the option to toggle between Spanish and English.

According to the PV Policies and Procedures Guide, examiners/proctors can see Exam Information (among many other activities) in Registration Manager. This is the place where they would see the test subject and the language by which they can make appropriate decisions about test center operations in support of Spanish language speakers.

The entire GED® test is in Spanish starting from the welcome page that includes information about the format of the GED® test they are going to take.