In Focus

Apr 2, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Draft Regulations Released

By Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success

Today, draft regulations to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) were posted to the Federal Register website. WIOA is the first update to the nation’s core workforce training programs since the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) 16 years ago. The draft regulations mark an important milestone in WIOA implementation. They come in five parts, known as Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs), that each address different aspects of the law:

The regulations will be published to the Federal Register on April 16, 2015. At that point, the public can submit comments at www.regulations.gov for 60 days. The Departments plan to analyze these public comments and anticipate issuing Final Rules implementing WIOA in early 2016. We encourage stakeholders at the state and local levels committed to advancing opportunities for low-income youth and adults with barriers to economic success to submit comments.

CLASP looks forward to carefully reviewing the draft regulations and providing analysis to the field and comments to the Departments on ways to best serve low-income and lower-skilled youth and adults through WIOA.

Don’t miss CLASP’s WIOA Game Plan for Low-Income People, which includes strategies to implement the law and help low-income families and individuals climb the economic ladder.

Apr 7, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Studies Confirm Favorable Long-term Impacts for Adult Basic Education Program Participants

By Judy Mortrude

While PIAAC data analyses confirm that U.S. adults continue to struggle with foundational reading and writing skills, PIAAC reports will not be able to document the impact of WIOA Title II Adult Education programs on the basic skills of participating adults. 

Recently, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) released five research briefs using Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning (LSAL) data to examine the long-term impacts of participation in adult basic education programs. Portland State University’s LSAL randomly sampled and tracked 1,000 high school dropouts between 1998 and 2007. Dr. Steve Reder has used three different methodologies to control for selection bias in that data, finding clear evidence of the long-term value of participating in adult basic education.

The briefs released last week highlight several key points. As stated in the briefs:

  • “Participants in Adult Basic Skills (ABS) programs experience significant and, in some cases, substantial increases in long-term educational and economic outcomes.
  • The enhanced outcomes require an average of 100 or more cumulative hours of program attendance.
  • The enhanced outcomes do not typically appear until several years following program participation.
  • The income premiums to ABS program participation average $10,000 per year, in 2013 dollars.
  • The overall GED attainment rate is estimated to have risen from 16 percent to 36 percent because of ABS program participation. ABS programs appeared to be effective ‘on-ramps’ into postsecondary education, but additional supports are likely needed for completion.” 

As we enter the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act Title II Notice of Proposed Rulemaking comment period, it is important to note the many benefits of these programs that can be documented long term (well after the reporting timeframe for federal performance measures).

Mar 19, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Mixed Enrollment Status: Favorable for Non-First-Time Student Degree Completion

By Katherine Saunders

The traditional 18-year-old high school graduate enrolling full time at a university no longer represents the majority of college students. Today’s non-traditional students are entering, or returning, to postsecondary education older, with families and jobs, and with varying degrees of enrollment intensity. In 2012, 51 percent of undergraduate students were independent, 40 percent were age 25 or older, 15 percent were single parents, and 37 percent were enrolled part-time. A new national study on the enrollment and persistence of non-first-time students (NFT) conducted by a group of higher education organizations[1], indicates that when NFT students combine periods of part-time and full-time enrollment, they are less likely to drop out and are more likely to complete an associate’s degree, compared to exclusively part-time students.

Adult students who return to postsecondary education typically balance work, family, school, and other obligations. The ability to mix their enrollment status provides the flexibility to persist through their education while tending to other responsibilities. More than half of undergraduate students mix full- and part-time enrollment throughout the course of their programs. This type of enrollment is especially more common, and more beneficial, for students attending two-year programs and institutions.

According to the study, of the NFT students who re-entered college between August 15, 2005 and August 14, 2008, 16 percent with mixed enrollment completed their associate’s degree, compared to only 7 percent who enrolled exclusively part-time and 10 percent who enrolled exclusively full-time. At the baccalaureate level or higher, while students who enrolled exclusively full-time fared better than students with mixed enrollment (34 percent compared to 25 percent, respectively), students who enrolled a mixture of full and part-time fared  significantly better than students who enrolled exclusively part-time (25 percent compared to 7 percent, respectively). For adult students who do not have the time or financial resources to continuously enroll full-time at either two-year or four-year institutions, these findings prove that mixing their enrollment status provides them with a better outcome then solely attending part-time.

This study highlights the need for discussions and decisions around financing higher education for working adults at the state and national levels. In comments to the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, CLASP provided several recommendations focused on increasing college affordability for low-income, adult students. CLASP recommends preserving continuous student aid eligibility for students who mix enrollment over the course of their college program, including when they attend less than half-time.

To supplement the unmet costs of higher education, a growing number of undergraduates work while in college, with 39 percent working part-time and 27 percent working full-time. Working while in school may require periods of reduced enrollment, and grants during these periods of lower enrollment intensity help these students maintain momentum to complete their degrees and avoid dropping out entirely due to financial circumstance. According to research from the Community College Research Center, students who maintain “consecutive enrollment” are more likely to complete a credential, and the frequency at which a student switches between part-time and full-time enrollment “does not appear to be detrimental”.

When non-first-time students mix their enrollment, they are more likely to complete their degree. As research continues to support the conclusion that mixed enrollment supports completion, Congress should use this as a guide to pursue policies that preserve student aid for those who attend a mix of full- and part-time enrollment while in school. Adopting these policies would support the national college completion goals and help more low-income, working students earn postsecondary education and credentials necessary to enter the middle class and obtain sustainable, living wages.   


[1] The higher education organizations involved in this study include the American Council on Education, InsideTrack, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and the National Student Clearinghouse.

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