How To Start an Adult Literacy Program

~ Offering GED® Instruction in Virginia

Most frequently asked question about offering GED® classes in a Virginia nonprofit organization (business/church/501c3).

Contact Sue Mansfield, Specialist for High School Equivalency, OAEL VA DOE,  for updates and details. (See contact information at the bottom of this page.)

This video provides a 4-minute overview of what students can expect when taking the GED test.


discussion 3What kind of certification do I need to teach the classes?

Requirements for teaching classes are determined by the organization doing the hiring. For instance, some adult education programs require a Bachelors degree and state teaching license or provisional license, or a minimum score of 450 on the OPT for subjects he or she will teach.

If you are not receiving funds from the Department of Education and you are running your own adult education/GED® classes, then you can set your own qualifications for teaching. However, a high school diploma or GED® credential is probably a good idea. In addition, you will need to feel comfortable using computers in instruction, since the new GED® tests are computer-based.

For teachers resources, click on this link from the GED Testing Service, which offers a Teacher’s Guide and a series of webinars.


What books should I use and where can I get them?

There are numerous publishing companies that put out GED® and Pre-GED® level books. You can find a wide selection of them at most book stores. Surveying your options there is a good start. To buy books in bulk, you can contact the publisher of the books you’re interested in through the Internet or their contact information listed in the book. Your local adult education program may already have a relationship with curriculum publishers and may be interested in collaborating on a bulk order. Libraries are also good sources for adult education materials, however they are usually classified as reference materials and may not leave the premises.

For online material, see the websites listed at GED®Virginia: and feel free to call the GED® Helpline with questions (877-376-9433).


Do I need to give assessment tests?

The most important step in offering Adult Basic Education and GED® classes is the assessment of the students’ needs. In order to get a clear understanding of your students’ reading levels, math abilities, and other skills that you would like to address, you must administer an assessment. Assessment tests identify student strengths and weaknesses so they can be referred to the correct material. If your program is not able to give assessment tests, partnering with your local adult education program may be a good option for the initial intake and orientation phase of student enrollment. Click here to find Virginia’s assessments on a PDF document.


Who can administer the GED® test?

Only authorized test administrators can administer the GED® test. Educators cannot also serve as an authorized test administrator.


What about administering practice tests?

All educators are allowed to administer the GED Ready® practice test. The GED Ready® practice test doesn’t need to be proctored; however, you can choose to monitor students taking the test. In a corrections institution, anyone can administer the GED Ready® practice test if there are no restrictions set by the institution.


Can you give me GED® promotional materials?

Please contact your local adult education program for local informational brochures and promotional materials. (Find your regional adult education provider here). You may also order professionally developed brochures, handbooks and posters from the GED Testing Service. All items ordered through this link are FREE.


We have a computer lab; how can the students use the web to study?

Learners who want to prepare online have no shortage of options on the Internet. Although many programs are free of charge, not all are well designed or particularly effective, and many are deceptive money-making schemes that offer little assistance to the learner.  Helping adult learners to integrate technology into their preparation is a necessary service, since the new GED® test is now computer-based. Click here to learn more about the new GED test requirements on GED TS’s Programs and Services.


My program serves a different part of town (or population) than the adult education program, so do we really need to contact them?

It is often helpful to an adult education program just getting started to get input from experienced professionals in the field. Partnering with your local adult education program is optional, but the benefits of their guidance outweigh the costs. Your programs can refer learners to one another, share resources, and trade services.


I’ve talked to my local adult education program manager and was told to send everyone to their location. Can’t we serve them ourselves?

You are welcome to provide any service to your community that you see fit. However, since the changes in the GED® test have been implemented, state-funded adult education programs are often better equipped to serve many of the needs of adult GED learners than community-based start-up programs. Assessment and computer-based GED® testing centers are already established in your city or county and your program should consider making use of them. In some cases, local adult education teachers might be willing to come to your location to assist with instruction. Your organization could serve as a satellite location for adult education services in your region. Your program might provide one-on-one or small group tutors to provide extra help in specific subject areas (like reading, math, or writing) to students who are also enrolled in classes with your local adult education program. It is up to you to decide what kind of partnership will best benefit your learners.


How can we attend Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center (VALRC) trainings if we’re not state funded?

Although VALRC trainings are intended for state-funded adult education programs, open seats can also be filled by not-for-profit groups. When a training is specifically intended for a local adult education program, the program manager will often invite members of their partnering agencies. This is another benefit of working closely with your local state-funded adult education program. After talking about working with the local program, think about joining the VAELN listserv ( on the Resource Center website. This listserv announces important information about upcoming trainings and news pertaining to adult education and literacy. Professional development for your teachers is just as important as any other aspect of your organization, because it ensures that your teachers are equipped to run effective classes with the latest best practices in adult education.


How can we become an official testing center?

Since the changes in the new GED, the cost of starting an official testing center is prohibitive for most faith-based and nonprofit literacy organization. Should your organization still be interested in becoming a GED® testing center, please contact Michael Nusbaum at the Office of Adult Education and Literacy, VA DOE (see contact information below).


What are local testing center rules and requirements in Virginia?

Click on this link to find information on the GED Testing Service site about Virginia’s requirements.


May students bring in and use a handheld TI-30XS Multiview Scientific Calculator during the test?

  • Students who want to use a handheld calculator are responsible for bringing their own TI-30XS Multiview Scientific Calculator’
  • They may use the calculator for any of the three test subjects that allow the use of a calculator: Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies.
  • The Mathematical Reasoning test is being republished to allow for this change starting October 6, 2014
    • The new Math test will include two distinct parts – Part 1 and Part 2 with a brief, three-minute break in between
    • Part 1 includes the initial test items that do not allow the use of any calculator
    • Part 2 still includes the embedded on-screen calculator, but now students have the option to use a handheld calculator
  • Students who bring in a handheld calculator must place it in their secure lockers at the start of the test.
  • Once students complete Part 1, they can go to their lockers during the three-minute break to get their handheld calculator to use on Part 2 (Answer from the GED Testing Service).


How does GED Credentialing work in Virginia?

All your questions are answered in this PDF document from the Virginia Department of Education. Click here to view it:


Contact information for Virginia


  • Virginia’s Specialist for High School Equivalency:

Susan Mansfield

Email address:

Telephone: 804-786-7644

Office of Adult Education and Literacy, Virginia Department of Education

GED® information or information for High School Equivalency Degree: 101 North 14th Street P.O. Box 2120 Richmond, VA 23218-2120

  • Virginia GED® Helpline – 877-37- MY-GED (or 1-877-376-9433)
  • Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center

Iris Guillet


Phone: (804) 828-6521 or (800) 237-0178

Kevin Franklin


Phone: 804-827-2639 or (800) 237-0178

Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center 3600 West Broad Street, Ste 669 Richmond, VA 23230

Virginia GED® Helpline: 1-877-376-9433



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