Adult Basic Education (ABE)/General Education Development (GED)


At the Chicago Bee and Legler Library branches, Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Education Development (GED) Program, and Life Skills classes are offered. The ABE Program provides coursework to students who test below the GED level and need remedial/developmental reading, writing and math skills or who just simply want to learn to read and write. The GED Program prepares students to meet the (high school equivalency exam) and transition to postsecondary education or career training.

While the life skills classes are provided as a bridge to teaching students financial and health literacy, job readiness, and computer assisted learning they help to increase their knowledge and skills for everyday living. The length of time necessary to complete the various programs depend on a combination of factors including students initial reading and math scores, previous educational experience, length of time out of school, level of motivation, and amount of time students are willing to devote to study and homework. The classes are developed to meet the educational needs of our students’ at each specific site. As a result, all classes are not offered at every site.

Adult Basic Education (ABE)/General Education Development (GED)Levels

Basic Skills I Reading and Writing

Basic Skills Reading I introduces basic word recognition and word attack skills including pre-reading, sight words, phonics and structural analysis; comprehension and advanced reading in relation to words, sentences, selections and sequences; specialized skills in locating and organizing information, reading maps, interpreting graphs, tables or diagrams; and the development of personal reading skills.

Basic Skills I Math

Basic Skills Math I introduces basic arithmetic skills including the fundamental operations with whole numbers, decimals, fractions and mixed numbers; verbal reasoning; and measurement systems.

Basic Skills II Reading and Writing

Basic Skills Reading and Writing II reinforces all acquired skills in the Basic Skills I Reading and Writing course and introduces introductory elements of essay writing.

Basic Skills II Math

Basic Skills Math II enhances all the skills acquired in the Basic Skills Math I course.  It also introduces percents, ratio and proportion, and charts and graphs.

Pre-GED Reading and Writing Skills

Pre-GED reading and writing skills strengthens and reviews all skills acquired in Basic Skills I and II.  In addition, it adds emphasis to personal reading, social studies, and science areas. Also it enhances basic English grammar and elements of essay writing.

Pre-GED Math

Pre-GED reinforces and reviews skills learned in Basic Skills I and II.  It introduces the fundamental operations with decimals, fractions and mixed numbers, verbal reasoning, and measurement systems.

GED Reading

The GED reading course prepares students to take the language arts–reading portion of the GED test. It provides understanding in interpreting includes prose fiction from the twentieth century, nonfiction prose, critical reviews, business documents, poetry and drama.

GED Writing

The GED writing course prepares students to take the language arts–writing portion of the GED test. It provides understanding in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, organization, usage, and mechanics. It also consists of essay writing, planning, organizing, evaluating and revising. Students will learn to critically analyze their own writing to fully develop effective essays within a 45-minute time frame.

GED Mathematics

The GED math course prepares students to take the math portion of the GED test. It will review numbers and operations, measurement and data analysis, algebra, and geometry, and filling in grids.

GED Social Studies

The social studies course prepares students to take the social studies portion of the GED test. It includes United States History, World History, Civics and Government, Economics, and Geography.

GED Science

The GED science course involves reading scientific passages and interpreting graphs, charts, maps and diagrams. It includes content areas related to earth and space science, life science, and physical science.

GED Cohort

The GED cohort is a fast-paced course designed for students whose test scores in reading are11.0 or above and 10.5 or above in math.  This is an intensive GED 16 week course that covers all five-subject areas as well as the Constitution.  At the end of the session, all students are signed up to take the GED test.

Life Skills

Financial Literacy

The financial literacy class teaches economic principles ranging from the basics of writing number words and counting money, to more complex exercises, such as creating a budget and balancing a checking account to avoiding identity fraud.

Health Literacy

The health literacy class teaches students to read labels, take medications safely, be aware of potentially hazardous household items, understand relevant health issues, and the health care system.

Job Readiness

The job readiness class introduces skills, such as computer job search strategies, interviewing, dressing for success, and job retention, time management, and career exploration.

Computer Assisted Learning

The computer assisted learning class provides an overview of components and their functions.  Students learn to navigate different file types; search the Internet for academic materials, as well as use a host of educational software that remediates subject weaknesses such as the GED Illinois CD. Additionally, students will learn to set up and use an email account.


Adult Basic Education (ABE)/General Education Development(GED)Every student entering a Tolton Center program must be pre-tested at registration to determine their academic levels and post-tested before leaving to determine gain. ABE and GED students are placed in levels based on their Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) scores.

English as a Second Language (ESL)/Family Literacy


English as a Second Language (ESL)

This program, which began in 2006, provides English instruction at three levels to adults in the Little Village community. Instructors use a variety of methods and materials to aid students in improvement in four areas of language acquisition: reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension.

Early Childhood Education

Tolton Center’s Early Childhood (EC) program is held in conjunction with the adult English classes. While parents attend classes, the children attend classes of their own. Early Childhood staff offers children a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities in a language rich environment. Consisting of both native English-speakers and Spanish-speakers, Tolton EC staff instruct in the children’s native language to form a foundation as well as in the second language to aid vocabulary building and listening comprehension. Classes are divided into age groups (1-3 years and 3-5 years) and provided with age appropriate and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities.

Family Literacy

The Tolton Center offers families attending our ESL program unique opportunities to engage their children in literacy activities both during class time and within the home. Adults take part in parenting classes. These classes are led by Tolton staff and provide a time and space for parents to further explore effective parenting techniques and to discuss methods and strategies for better themselves as parents. Additionally, parents and children attend Parent and Children Together (PACT) activities. These activities, also led by Tolton staff, offer families a time to learn together during class time. Activities are focused on literacy and incorporate art, music and hands-on learning. Furthermore, parents are asked to arrive thirty minutes early to read with their children or to engage with other families in literacy activities planned by staff members.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Levels

The ESL I course focuses on speaking and listening skills in English with emphasis on life skills and includes an introduction to basic English literacy skills. The English II level incorporates more reading and writing skills with an emphasis on employability.

The ESL III level continues work in speaking and listening with a strong emphasis also on reading comprehension using a variety of sources and fluent expression of oneself through writing.

Life Skills

Computer assisted learning: Adult students in the ESL program are offered an hour a week to use computers. Teachers aid students in word processing, Internet research, e-mail, and other skills vital to the workforce. Students are encouraged to also use that time on various language-based websites, including and

Health Literacy: Health Literacy is incorporated in all three levels of ESL. Students are taught necessary vocabulary, including: illnesses and injuries, how to read medicine bottles, making appointments, and how to complete out paperwork. Mental health topics are also addressed and discussed. Students often bring in medicine and doctors’ notes to discuss and ask questions.

Financial Literacy

Similar to Health Literacy, Financial Literacy is addressed at all levels of ESL. Students are taught relevant vocabulary and discuss money saving strategies, budgets, loans, and other topics.Job Readiness: Students at all levels discuss time management techniques, appropriate work attire, workplace etiquette, and other job-related topics. Students at higher levels are encouraged and aided in the building of a resume, job searching and interviewing.


English as a Second Language (ESL)

Student progress is quantitatively measured by pre and posttests using BEST Plus and CASAS, when appropriate. These tests are used to determine placement in classes and to measure progress throughout the year. Textbooks and software tests are used to guide instruction and monitor English language learning progress.


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