Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) National Activities
Section 243 of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) authorizes the Secretary to establish and carry out a "program of national leadership activities to enhance the quality of adult education and literacy programs nationwide." The Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Division of Adult Education and Literacy oversees the activities funded through the Section 243.
The national activities funded through Section 243 have been targeted to four broad areas:
- Improving instruction and teacher quality
- Creating new models of service delivery to learners
- Improving accountability
- Supporting research
Major activities funded in the past five years have included:
Improving Instruction by helping states enhance teacher quality through professional development
- Literacy Information and Communications System: LINCS is committed to providing adult education and literacy practitioners across the nation with high-quality, evidence-based professional learning opportunities, to support learning that results in college and career readiness for adult students, thereby contributing to the nation's goal of having the highest skilled workforce in the world. The LINCS Resource Collection is a centralized repository of evidence-based material—a centralized collection of adult education and career readiness resources. The LINCS Regional Professional Development Centers will work with States to deploy evidence-based materials and professional development activities to the field of adult education.
- Aligning Adult Education National Leadership Activities: Aligning Adult Education National Leadership Activities across Content Areas is designed to assist OVAE in helping states understand how various adult education national leadership activities converge to support high quality teaching and learning for adult students. The project will help OVAE identify next steps for improving and maintaining alignment across select national leadership initiatives to serve the field.
- English Language Acquisition: The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA), and The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) Network both offered a variety of resources, including topical briefs, a quarterly newsletter, a training guide, and a repository of research-based information on English language learning. OVAE's newest professional development center for adult English language educators, ELL-U, will deliver an array of sustained professional learning opportunities to help teachers of adult English language learners to master evidence-based instructional strategies to maximize student outcomes. ELL-U will also combine face-to-face and virtual learning activities to establish a virtual community of practice among teacher across the nation.
- Reading: Student Achievement in Reading (STAR) is helping to expand states' use of evidence-based reading practices by providing intensive training and coaching to teachers and local program administrators. Currently, nineteen states have partnered with OVAE to deliver STAR training and technical assistance to ABE practitioners in their states. Each of these states has invested in the certification of state STAR trainers to expand its capacity to scale up evidence-based reading instruction. STAR continues to recruit more states to implement evidence-based reading instruction.
- Math: The purpose of the Adult Numeracy Instruction project is to expand the evidence-base for adult math instruction as well as to provide adult education teachers and program administrators with professional development that will result in more effective numeracy instruction for adult learners. The project is analyzing the findings and recommendations of the 2008 National Math Panel Report for relevance to adult education. In collaboration with the Teachers Investigating Adult Numeracy (TIAN) project, funded by the National Science Foundation, a professional development model is being developed and field-tested.
- Standards-Based Education: Promoting College and Career-Ready Standards in Adult Basic Education will assist State and local programs in preparing students for success in higher education and training programs. The project will conduct key activities to support efforts to raise awareness and understanding for the critical skills and knowledge that colleges, universities, and employers expect from incoming students and employees. OVAE also oversees the Adult Education Content Standards Warehouse of standards-based resources. On this Website, you will find: 1) adult education content standards from a variety of States and organizations; 2) A Process Guide for Establishing State Adult Education Content Standards; and, 3) Standards-in-Action —professional development methods and materials that support the implementation of content standards in adult education programs.
- Supporting Teacher Quality Across Content Areas in Adult Education: This project, Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL) , is designed to improve the quality of teaching in adult education in content areas and to enhance state and local adult education providers' capacity to understand and apply evidence-based instructional practices that promote student learning. Beginning with the content area of writing for Adult Basic Education (ABE) students, the TEAL Center is offering a program of professional development and individualized technical assistance to participating local staff in 12 states – CA, FL, ID, MS, MO, NE, NY, OK, RI, TX, VA, and WY.
Creating New Models of Service Delivery to help adults across the nation to access the education, training and information resources they need to be college and career ready
- The Adult College Completion Toolkit [PDF, 2.18MB] a collection of resources designed to connect state administrators and local practitioners to the strategies, resources, and technical assistance tools. The toolkit focuses on three key areas: access, quality, and completion. The four target student populations include veterans, adult basic education students, incarcerated individuals, and skilled immigrants.
- Career Pathways/Integrated Education and Training: In September 2006, OVAE sponsored the Adult Basic Education to Community College Transitions Symposium, which provided a national forum for dialogue on issues related to ABE students' transition to postsecondary education. Pursuant to that dialogue, several subsequent national leadership activities have sought to enhance state and local efforts to expand adult education students' access to postsecondary education and high demand occupations. The Adult Basic Education Career Connections demonstration project supports the involvement of five local adult education programs in postsecondary career pathways initiatives – CA, IL, KY, MD, and WI. The project produced the ABE Career Connections: A Manual for Integrating Adult Basic Education into Career Pathways which demonstrates how ABE programs can operate within career pathways to prepare students for postsecondary courses leading to a degree or occupational certificate targeted toward an industry important to a regional economy. The manual and other resources can be accessed through OVAE's Policy to Performance Resource Center. The Policy to Performance project is assisting eight states with effective policy development that will support college and career readiness for low-skilled adults and adult learners. With the lessons learned in these eight states – AL, CA, LA, MA, NY, TX, VA, and WI, the Policy to Performance project will be able to advance all states' efforts to successfully transition adult education students to postsecondary education and/or high demand employment opportunities. OVAE's newest investment, Designing Instruction for Career Pathways, will assemble a collection of instructional materials organized by career clusters and that will facilitate state and local efforts to provide career pathways instruction. The project will also cultivate a virtual community of practice among adult education career pathways providers.
- Online Learning: USA LEARNS builds national capacity to meet the needs of low-skilled adults and English language learners. This project assembled engaging English language learning materials that can be used for independent learning or to supplement classroom instruction. The easy-to-use, multi-media resources can help beginning adult English language learners acquire skills in both oral and print language anywhere and anytime.
- Distance Education: National activities funds have also supported states working toward making distance-learning options available through funded adult education programs. Funds underwrote development of national policies on reporting distance students and tools for training teachers to teach at a distance.
- Interagency Models: National activities funds supported demonstrations in six states – AZ, FL, GA, MD, MO, and WA that exemplified interagency partnerships. The demonstrations focused on partnerships to improve the provision of services between adult education and workforce development partners. In addition to regional meetings to share lessons learned during the demonstrations, both a final report and a guidebook were created to provide assistance to all states.
- Guide for Businesses: This interactive, online guidebook was designed to promote expanded business involvement in adult education and to develop adult education programs that prepare students for work.
Improving Accountability by establishing a comprehensive performance accountability system to assess the effectiveness of eligible agencies in making continuous improvement in their adult education and literacy activities
- Report Cards: National programs funds supported states developing public performance report cards to improve accountability of local adult education programs. Materials related to these efforts are posted on the National Reporting System (NRS) web site which also includes electronic templates and training materials.
- Desktop Monitoring: National programs funds supported regional meetings that assisted states in improving their desk monitoring procedures. Models of state data systems and other electronic tools are available for states on the NRS Web site.
- Performance-Based Funding: In 2005, OVAE commissioned a study of adult education fiscal policies in three states (IN, KS, and MO) that use performance data to allocate program resources in order to understand how performance-based funding (PBF) systems operate. The resulting case studies report, entitled PBF in Adult Education documents commonalities in the design and implementation of these PBF systems, and includes lessons learned and challenges faced during implementation. In 2008, OVAE built on these earlier efforts by introducing a two-year initiative that helped 12 states engage in the PBF system development process and documented their use of PBF. The final project report profiles each of the states, and describes the national training workshops and individualized technical assistance they received. Each profile details the state's needs prior to their involvement in the initiative, the technical assistance received, the technical assistance conducted and its outcomes, and the state's PBF implementation status as of October 2010.
Supporting Research to identify teaching and learning activities that are likely to produce substantial gains in student learning
- Reading (National Institute for Child Health and Development): Each of these six studies represents some of the most comprehensive research efforts to date on teaching adults to read. These studies, the results of which are beginning to be released in peer reviewed publications, present new knowledge about the factors that influence instruction (in reading and writing), effective program, structures and models of service delivery, and how adults learn.
- STAR (Student Achievement in Reading) Evaluation: This study focuses on learner outcomes that result from using the evidence-based research materials in the STAR project. Results from this study are also expected to help state and local program administrators to better understand and identify what quality implementation of STAR looks like as well as program structures that support learner achievement in reading.
- An Evaluation of Explicit Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners: This experimental design study is investigating the impact of explicit literacy instruction on the achievement of low-literate adult English language learners (ELLs). The research team identified local programs in California, Florida, Texas and Illinois—all states with large numbers of English language learners (ELLs)—to test strategies for teaching reading and writing to low-literate adult ELLs. Data collection began in fall 2008 from ten programs with a total of 40 teachers instructing nearly 1,800 low-literate adult ELLs. Study results are expected to be available in late 2010.
- Transitioning English Language Learners: This two-year descriptive study will explore instructional strategies and program supports that facilitate advanced English language learners' (ELLs) successful transition to adult basic (ABE) and adult secondary (ASE) education. The study is also expected to provide descriptive details on the characteristics of students for whom these strategies appear to be successful. A report summarizing findings, with recommendations for policy makers and researchers is expected to be available by late 2010.
- National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) Study: The 2003 NAAL data continues to be a comprehensive and seminal source of information on the state of adult literacy in the United States. The NAAL web site contains data useful to addressing literacy needs of America's adult population. Publications and resources based upon secondary analysis of the NAAL data, such as state and county synthetic estimates and the recently released brief on the English literacy levels of America's foreign-born adults, can help states to understand and address particular regional adult literacy needs. Information from an earlier study that was funded through Section 243, the Adult Education Program Study (AEPS), can also be useful to states in conducting adult literacy needs assessments.