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In Focus

Sep 26, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

CLASP recognizes AEFL week and the need to invest in IET+S

By Judy Mortrude and Lauren Walizer

Every year, Adult Education and Family Literacy week (AEFL week) recognizes the importance of investing in adult education services. Far too often, adults in the U.S. lack basic skills; indeed, 36 million can’t read or write at a basic level. However, despite this striking need, the U.S. continues to neglect and underfund adult education.

In a fact sheet released today, CLASP explains how an IET+S strategy can help these adults develop skills and access family-sustaining jobs. The strategy combines Integrated Education and Training with an added focus on support services and partnerships with specific industry sectors.  This is an effective model for creating healthier, stronger families; economies; and communities.

Recognizing the need for strategic investment during AEFL week, now is the time for action to fulfill students’ social, academic, and workforce training needs.

Read the fact sheet >>

Sep 21, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

States and Local Areas Should Act Now to Improve WIOA Services to Low-Income People, Setting a Solid Baseline for Future Performance Goals

By Anna Cielinski and David J. Socolow

Today, CLASP released a memo discussing performance policies in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that can encourage services for those most in need. The memo is part of CLASP’s “Opportunities for Action” series.

Under WIOA, performance management provisions empower states and local areas to serve more individuals with barriers to employment. This includes an “objective statistical adjustment model” that adjusts state and local performance targets based (in part) on the level of WIOA services provided to individuals with the highest needs. It also includes a new interim progress measure, “Measurable Skills Gain,” that allows states and local areas to get credit for serving those who may take more than one year to meet other milestones, such as employment or credential attainment.

More recently, the federal government has announced policies that complement these provisions. During the next two years of WIOA, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education (DOL and ED) will not apply sanctions to States that do not meet their negotiated levels of performance. States and local areas should act now to serve more individuals with barriers to employment, so that future revisions to the statistical adjustment model will better reflect the realities of serving those with the greatest needs. The participants that states serve and the results they achieve over the next two years can help build a realistic baseline into the adjustment model, enabling DOL and ED to set future performance targets that encourage states to provide robust services to greater numbers of individuals with significant barriers to employment.

Recent federal guidance further dismantles the perception that states and local areas will be punished with workforce development performance targets that disincentivize serving those with the greater barriers. Pointing out that “WIOA emphasizes serving those individuals with barriers to employment and individuals more at risk of not connecting to the labor market,” DOL aims to “accommodate States currently serving a significant number of individuals to barriers to employment who need higher levels of service to achieve a positive outcome” and to encourage new efforts to “increase access to services for special populations that may face significant barriers to employment” by using data to negotiate more reasonable performance levels.

The Department has also adopted an expanded, more helpful definition of “continuous improvement.” Under new guidance, continuous improvement goes beyond absolute increases in results from year to year; it also encompasses changes in service strategy and delivery or changes in the types of customers served. This supportive interpretation of continuous improvement should be used in federal-state and state-local negotiations over the next several years to set performance targets that accommodate greater services to more individuals with barriers to employment.

Read the new Opportunity for Action on WIOA Performance >>    

Sep 16, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

Senate introduces amendment recognizing the Adult Learner in Career and Technical Education

By Judy Mortrude

On September 15, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced, and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) co-sponsored, S. 3349 The Career and Technical Education for Adult Learners Act (CTE for ALL Act), to amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins Act) and provide adults pathways for adults to career and technical education. CLASP supports this effort to help nontraditional adult students build skills and succeed in today’s economy.    

An international survey confirms that millions of America’s working adults have low literacy, numeracy, and/or digital problem solving skills. This is issue won’t age away; fully half of those workers with limited skills are under 45. Most of these workers are in health care, construction, manufacturing, and hospitality—all critical fields—yet they’re not participating in learning opportunities.   

America’s workforce needs postsecondary education aligned with foundational adult education and workforce preparation. By 2020, nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require a postsecondary credential. This bill will align Perkins Career and Technical Education programs and strategies with those in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, focusing on the postsecondary credentials adults need to succeed in the workplace.

The CTE for ALL Act will:

  • Ensure that programs funded under the Perkins Act are aligned with adult education programs and industry sector partnerships authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  • Promote the evidence based educational strategy Integrated Education and Training.
  • Include adult education in state plans for career and technical education.
  • Allow states to develop core performance indicators for adult learners that align with performance indicators in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  • Encourage a greater emphasis on work experiences as part of career and technical education programs.
  • Clarify that adult education providers that also offer career and technical education programs are eligible to receive funds under the Perkins Act.

The House of Representatives passed a version of a comprehensive Perkins Act bill last week.  Next week, the Senate is expected to begin their work to reauthorize the Perkins Act, making this proposal timely. CLASP will be urging the Senate to include strong provisions aligning Perkins to WIOA and recognizing that the Perkins program is an important component of postsecondary training for adults. One positive step would be to include the language in S. 3349 in the reauthorization of Perkins.

We applaud Senator Reed’s and Baldwin’s attention to aligning public education and training systems to drive effectiveness and efficiency for all students. 

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