The Butte Literacy Program is a community-based, non-profit organization that provides free and confidential tutoring to adults in the Butte-Silver Bow County area. Our mission is to provide instructional assistance to adults who desire to increase their literacy skills. Our definition of literacy is the ability to read, write, compute and use technology at a level that enables an individual to reach his or her full potential.

Students are representative of those who need assistance with basic reading, writing and math; English as a second language; achieving skills enabling them to qualify to pass their high school equivalency exam; and those who need refresher coursework for re-entry into academic programs or higher education. Some students want to learn to work on personal learning disabilities and seek to improve personal skill and confidence.

The Butte Literacy Program, a one-to-one tutoring program, began in 1987, and was incorporated in 1988. Initially utilizing VISTA volunteers, the program eventually used local volunteers dedicated to assisting individuals to achieve their academic goals. Recruitment continues for both students and tutors.

Tutors must complete our volunteer tutor training, which is offered when new tutors are recruited or when tutors request additional training. Initial tutor training is a three hour-course that focuses on student-centered learning, using training guidelines for the HiSet Exam that has replaced the GED program. Tutor training covers techniques for teaching adult students and instruction for teaching reading skills, language usage, reading comprehension, sight words, phonics, word patterns and writing. Some feel additional training would improve their work performance when seeking promotions in the workplace.

Tutors are trained in academic goal-setting and lesson planning needed in the development of student plans. Many of our students are interested in preparation for taking the HiSet exam, a nationally accredited high school equivalency program. Preparation for the HiSet is based upon practice tests provided by the HiSet program.

We offer tutoring in preparation for these exams in a personalized program based on the needs of the individuals seeking assistance. Some re-entry students seek assistance when they want to address some learning difficulties that have resulted in their dropping out of school because of their personal struggles with reading and comprehension. The program provides all of the necessary resources, books and learning tools for both the tutors and the students.

The Butte Literacy Program survives through local contributions and fund-raising events to cover books and training materials. 

Those interested in obtaining their high school equivalency diploma may then contact a testing site. Once a student is confident and ready for testing, they must register to take the HiSet Exam online. There is a registration fee of $50 that must be paid up front on line. Students must then contact Montana Tech to sign up to take the required exams that are scheduled every month on campus. There may be additional fees required at the testing site.

Theresa Whalen is coordinator of the Butte Literacy Program, telephone 406-723-7905.

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