Supporting Policy and Practice │ AERTAC
Technical assistance and professional development in adult learning helps educators implement innovative instructional models and research-based practices.
AIR supplies expertise in these areas and provides support to states for meeting accountability reporting requirements and improving the quality and usefulness of their program data.
The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) is a national leadership initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to expand evidence-based practice in the field of adult education. AIR leads several activities that help deliver high-quality, evidence-based resources, on-demand educational opportunities to practitioners of adult education.
Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs increase adult learners’ equitable access to credential training, prepare them for success in quality jobs, and provide the skills needed to gain employment in high-demand fields. ADVANCE IET, funded by the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, assists states as they improve and expand IET opportunities that increase workforce credential attainment and employment outcomes of adult learners by providing new training opportunities and resources to support practitioners as they design, improve, and scale IET programs across the country.
Prison education programs have some unique characteristics that require creative thinking. To focus on increasing equity for all inmates receiving education services, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation created the Student Success Initiative, a three-pronged approach to improving instruction. AIR developed and implemented a professional learning community in each of California’s 35 prisons.
In the late 1990s, Adult Basic Education was undervalued and overlooked compared to other federally funded education programs. To demonstrate the effectiveness and impact of these services, the U.S. Department of Education developed an accountability framework, focused on data quality and program improvement. Through six projects spanning 20 years, AIR has led the development of the national accountability system for the federal adult education program (AEFLA), the National Reporting System (NRS), which meets the adult education program’s accountability requirements under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
The intent of contemporary standards-based education reform is to ensure that learners have access to instruction that supports them in developing the skills necessary for success. While the K–12 standards provide a strong foundation, adult learners need specific knowledge and skills to meet the demands of postsecondary training and employment without needing remediation. Alaska Adult Education contracted with AIR to develop college and career readiness standards that are appropriate for adult learners in Alaska.
In providing professional development opportunities for adult educators, the goal of the California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO) is to enhance student learning gains and to help adult learners meet their goals as productive workers, family and community members, and lifelong learners. Beginning in 2001, the California Department of Education contracted with AIR to ensure that California met federal and state expectations for quality instruction.
The state of Nevada has put into place a system of adult basic education that addresses the needs of its adult learners. To support the education programs that serve adult learners, in 2017 the Nevada Department of Education enlisted AIR to manage and run its statewide system of adult education professional development.
AIR’s adult education experts developed and facilitate the annual Texas Adult Education Leadership Excellence Academy for the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning funded by the Texas Workforce Commission. The goal of this work is to expand the pool of trained and highly-skilled program administrators and instructional leaders who (a) understand the role that adult education can play in the Texas workforce system and (b) can provide exceptional leadership and instruction based on the most current research.
The Adult Education division of the Texas Workforce Commission contracted with the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning (TCALL) at Texas A&M University to provide training for adult educators on a new set of Texas adult education content standards. AIR worked with TCALL to provide training to 120 instructional coaches from adult education programs in all parts of the state.
Global competitiveness relies on closing the achievement gap, such that all learners are prepared to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Because an important component of learning is the quality of instruction, AIR developed an adult educator induction model and toolkit, teacher competencies, and research briefs, all to support improvements to teacher effectiveness in adult education.
Currently, English language learners (ELLs) comprise over 40% of students served by adult basic education programs. Therefore, it is critical that instructors are equipped with the training and tools to meet their learning needs. From 2013-2016, through its Improving Adult English Language Instruction initiative, the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education contracted with AIR to build on and extend its previous investments to improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of teachers working with adult ELLs by providing collaborative, evidence-based, and technology-enhanced professional development opportunities.
At present, over 70% of employers want to hire people with good writing abilities, and it’s been estimated that by 2020, 70% of occupations will require math skills to be successful. The TEAL project developed materials to increase the knowledge, skills, and abilities of instructors, administrators, and other adult education staff for adult learners with diverse backgrounds and needs. There were two iterations of this project, one that focused on writing instruction and another on math instruction.
As the national economy expands in areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the teaching of this content has become vital for adults to succeed in the workplace. AIR developed new and innovative ways to improve the teaching of STEM content to adult education students using open educational resources (OER).
To increase the success of the 2.5 million adults who access the nation’s adult basic education system, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education has conducted several projects to provide Adult Basic Education students with rigorous standards comparable to those found in K-12. AIR staff identified a writing panel to develop the EFLS and a review panel, which assessed them and prepared a brief summary report of the process.
Improving the quality of instruction through the development of content standards is a critical step in developing effective curriculum and meaningful assessment to enhance student learning. In adult education, many programs do not use standards to guide their programs. The Adult Education Standards and Assessment Warehouse initiative was created in 2003 through funding from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) to collect and disseminate the best information on content standards to guide instruction in reading, mathematics, and English language acquisition.
Building Professional Development Partnerships with Adult Educators Project (PRO-NET) and PRO-NET 2000
Legislation in the early 1990’s reflected renewed focus on the role adult education served in preparing adults for postsecondary education and the workforce and recognition that a professionalized system of teacher education and training was essential to achieve these ends. PRO-NET 2000 focused on the development and dissemination of competencies for adult education administrators and professional development coordinators.