New Adult Education Reporting Requirements: Better for Programs and Students

Jul 02, 2012

By Marcie Foster and Elizabeth Kenefick

Starting this month, adult education programs are now required to dramatically change how they report data to the federal government on student outcomes—moving adult education toward greater alignment with other education and training programs and laying a foundation for using adult education program data as a tool for incentivizing and measuring system progress for adult education. These changes are being implemented through the Department of Education’s authority to develop and measure progress of federally-funded adult education programs and do not require a reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.

Currently, the accountability system for adult education—the National Reporting System (NRS)—requires providers to measure progress toward core outcome measures (obtaining a secondary school credential, entering postsecondary education, entering employment, or retaining employment), but only for students who articulate these outcomes as their stated goal when they begin classes. In other words, only students who express an early desire to enter postsecondary education will be tracked as having done so. But new data guidelines established by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) will now require programs to track core outcomes for specific cohorts of students—not based on stated goals, but on student characteristics. For example, all students who are unemployed at time of entry will now be tracked as to whether they start work after exiting their adult education program. .

These new requirements will greater align adult education with workforce development, which also tracks outcomes for all participants, but uses a different set of employment-related measures, including earnings. Though these actions do not establish a shared accountability system across the two programs, a key CLASP recommendation, closer alignment will help states and local programs work better together across systems. Cross-system collaboration is growing as more states are using career pathways to help low-skilled adults progress into postsecondary education and have an opportunity to reach progressively higher career opportunities. Read More>>

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