Studying Teacher Effectiveness in Adult Education

Despite the important role that adult education can play in students’ lives, research on teachers of adult education is limited. In the last few years, the availability of administrative data in some states that track individual student achievement over time and link students to their teachers has brought new possibilities to the ways adult education programs and personnel can be evaluated.

To provide descriptive information about the characteristics of teachers in adult education and to explore whether teacher characteristics are associated with student achievement in adult education, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education contracted with AIR to produce four research briefs. The first three statistical briefs include descriptions of the characteristics of adult education teachers and examine teacher effectiveness, student achievement, and transitioning into postsecondary education; the fourth brief focuses on communicating common issues with administrative data from adult education programs and provides recommendations from a research and evaluation perspective.

Teachers of Adult Education and the Students They Serve: A Snapshot From Three States (PDF)

This first brief explores data on adult education teachers from three states in program year 2010–11. The teacher and student data available in the three states varied, but most adult education teachers in 2010–11 appeared to meet common definitions of what it means to be a qualified educator in terms of highest degree held, certification status (based on data from two states), and years of adult education teaching experience. Notably, this pattern generally held for both full- and part-time teachers.

The Importance of Teacher Background Qualifications for Student Learning (PDF)

To explore whether indicators of teacher quality are associated with student achievement in adult education, this second brief in a series examines the relationships between teacher characteristics and student achievement. Findings indicated that there was no consistent relationship between key teacher demographics and student outcomes across three states included in the study; among full-time teachers, there was a small but positive relationship between some teacher characteristics and their students’ achievement in two states for mathematics and in one state for reading, while the opposite relationship was found in a third state. The mixed findings require further research in other states to understand better what the important factors are for teachers of adult education.

The Relationship Between Teacher Characteristics and Students’ Transitions Into Postsecondary Education (PDF)

While a few studies have examined various models of college transition programs in adult education, little information is available on the role of teacher characteristics—including professional qualifications—in transitioning adult students into postsecondary education. This brief examines the relationships between teacher characteristics and student transitioning into postsecondary education and finds that they were often not consistent across students with different educational functioning levels or were not substantively meaningful. The analyses reported in this brief are based on student-level data obtained from one state governed by the community college system with a large urban population.

Lessons Learned: Working with Administrative Data in Adult Education (PDF)

There are many challenges to using states’ the National Reporting System data for research purposes because these data are collected primarily for accountability purposes and the focus in the past has been on students rather than teachers. This final brief focuses on communicating these common issues with administrative data and provides recommendations that may help states maintain a data system that can be better used for their own analysis and program evaluation as well as for outside research.