In Focus: State Postsecondary Policy
Apr 09, 2012 | Permalink »
Federal Agencies Show Strong Commitment to Career Pathways
Last week, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services released a joint letter of support demonstrating their shared commitment to career pathways as a key strategy to improve the number of adults and youth obtaining postsecondary and industry-recognized credentials. CLASP has long supported career pathways as an evidence-backed strategy to expand economic opportunity and access to marketable credentials for low-income workers at all skill levels, and is pleased to see the federal government reinforce the effectiveness of this approach.
While this letter is the first of its kind, individual agencies have signaled their support for pathways and provided technical assistance on best practices through guidance and program memoranda to their grantees. These include:
- Increasing Credential, Degree, and Certificate Attainment by Participants of the Public Workforce System (TEGL 15-10)
- Use of Funds Provided Under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) for Integrated Education and Training (IET)
- Improving Literacy and Numeracy Gains for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Program Participants
Several states have already adopted a career pathways approach, including California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. The Joyce Foundation's Shifting Gears Initiative helped expand these efforts. This multiyear state policy initiative promoted regional economic growth by improving the education and skills training of the workforce in six Midwestern states- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. CLASP managed this effort and was the main technical assistance provider to the participating states.
Hopefully, with the introduction of this letter, many more states will be encouraged to forge new cross-agency partnerships and take the first step toward setting in place a career pathways framework for education and training statewide.
For more information on how to find funding for a career pathways effort, view Funding Career Pathways and Career Pathway Bridges: A Federal Policy Toolkit for States>>
For additional resources from the Departments of Labor and Education on career pathways, visit www.learnwork.workforce3one.org >>
Mar 15, 2012 | Permalink »
Advocates Fight to Save Adult Education in Los Angeles
Despite an organized effort to persuade the city to preserve adult education funding, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board on Tuesday approved a preliminary budget that would decimate one of the nation’s largest programs serving adult students. All of the adult schools in the city could be closed and at least 1,800 faculty and staff could lose their jobs if the city fails to find revenue to fill the funding gap before it finalizes the city budget in June.
Word of the drastic proposal to eliminate funding sparked a significant grassroots response to save the program, which plays a vital community role by providing adult education (including English language services). During the previous few weeks, the SaveAdultEd Campaign has mobilized thousands of people to voice their support through phone calls, letters, and most recently at a rally during the contentious vote on March 13. Campaign leaders and adult education advocates also participated in a guest blog discussion series, Cut the Excuses Not Education!, hosted by the National Coalition for Literacy leading up to the rally. In spite of these efforts, the board voted to cut funding. (Photo Source: SaveAdultEd)
The proposed adult education funding cut represents a broader trend among states and localities to divest in adult education to fill budget shortfalls. Nowhere has this been more evident than in California, where a ruling by the legislature in 2009 gave local school boards increased flexibility to determine program funding allocations in their districts. Subsequently, state funding for adult education services has declined by half—from $754 million in 2007-8 to less than $400 million in 2009-10. Other states have slashed state funding, implemented tuition or fees for students to generate revenue, or proposed policy reforms that could threaten program quality.
Exacerbating this trend is flat federal funding for adult education (Title II of the Workforce Investment Act) which, in fact, has declined 17 percent over the last decade after accounting for inflation.
More than 93 million adults need basic skills services, yet current funding levels only serve approximately 2 million. Low-skill, low-income workers have the highest rates of unemployment and have been hardest hit by the recent recession and jobs crisis. Cuts to this already-starved system that provides vulnerable workers with skills they need to access jobs or further education and training are short-sighted and could undermine our nation’s recovery. The SaveAdultEd campaign in Los Angeles should serve as a reminder to policymakers across the country that adult education is a valuable investment in our current and future workforce.
To view more photos and videos of this movement, visit the SaveAdultEd blog>>
Nov 15, 2011 | Permalink »
New Opportunity from the Dept. of Education Could Support Pell Grants for Career Pathways
An exciting new opportunity announced by the U.S. Department of Education to "test" the use of Pell Grants for short-term vocational training programs may make it easier for career pathways and similar initiatives to leverage Pell Grant funding. The experiment aims to determine if Pell Grant funding for short-term vocational training programs increases employment rates and/or wages of unemployed or underemployed individuals.
Pell Grants are a promising source of sustained funding for many students in career pathway programs, commonly defined as "linked education and training services that enable students, often while they are working, to advance over time to successively higher levels of education and employment in a given industry or occupational sector." A career pathway is a framework that weaves together existing education and training college programs and streamlines the path to postsecondary education and credentials. A career pathway can include shorter-term education or training programs that "add" up to a longer-term degree. However, often times these short-term programs are too short to be eligible for Pell Grants.
This experiment is one of eight announced by the U.S. Department of Education in late October. Part of the Experimental Sites Initiative, it will allow some postsecondary institutions to "test" the value of providing Pell Grants for certain shorter-term, high-demand training opportunities. This experiment would allow waivers for existing Pell eligibility and expand eligibility to students enrolled in short-term training programs at least eight weeks long and that provide at least 150 clock hours of instructional time (current minimum requirements are 15 weeks in length and 16 semester hours or 600 clock hours).
This new opportunity is ideal for states and institutions expanding use of career pathways and seeking sustainable funding for students. Additionally, such occupationally focused career pathway programs would meet the experiment's further requirements that the program provide training needed to meet local or regional workforce needs.
The Department will evaluate this experiment using a rigorous evaluation design. Colleges will be required to report on a "treatment" group (students in an 8 week/150 hour program) and a "control" group (students in a 15 week+/600 clock hour or 16 semester hour program). Selected institutions must also comply with other data collection requirements, including the collection of a number of pre- and post-program student characteristics.
For more information on how to apply, see the solicitation in the Federal Register posted Oct. 27, 2011. Letters of application to participate are due by Dec. 12, 2011, to receive priority consideration; however letters received from applicants later may be considered for participation at a later time.