OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Professional Development

Research and Evaluation | Noteworthy Practices | Additional Links

The quality of adult education instruction is a critical factor in improving student outcomes in reading, mathematics and other key skill areas. The Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) is investing in rigorous research on adult learning to help adult educators learn about, understand, and put into practice the findings from scientifically-based research. Ultimately, continuous improvement in teaching hinges on the availability of high quality professional development opportunities that are linked to research.

Improving the quality of instruction in adult education programs ultimately involves continually strengthening the knowledge, skills, and abilities of instructors, administrators, and other adult education staff.

Research and Evaluation

  • In the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy’s (NCSALL’s) Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, Volume 7, Cristine Smith and Marilyn Gillespie, in the chapter entitled “Research on Professional Development and Teacher Change: Implications for Adult Basic Education,” the author’s discuss the role of both K-12 and adult education teachers in student achievement.

  • The purpose of the Numeracy Environmental Scan (EScan) download files MS Word (1.40M), conducted by the American Institutes for Research, is to examine recent and current adult numeracy professional development initiatives in the United States and inform future numeracy research and other initiatives at the state and federal levels.

  • Through funding from OVAE, the Center for Adult English Language Acquisition Network (CAELA Network) produced a brief entitled Working with Adult English Language Learners with Limited Literacy: Research, Practice, and Professional Development, to ensure that those who work with adult English language learners with limited proficiency have the knowledge and skills to address their literacy needs.

  • Adult ESL Teacher Credentialing and Certification is a brief that was produced in 2008, through OVAE’s Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) project. This brief is written for program administrators, education researchers, and policymakers concerned with professionalizing the workforce of educators who serve adult English language learners.

  • The Working Conditions of Adult Literacy Teachers: Preliminary Findings from the NCSALL Staff Development Study focuses on the environmental factors that can impinge on the ability of adult education practitioners to do their jobs well. Particular emphasis is placed on the source of these factors, their effects on teachers and programs, and their implications for adult learners and for the field as a whole.

  • Pathways to Change: A Summary of Findings from NCSALL's Staff Development Study focuses primarily on individual factors that influenced how ABE teachers changed after participating in professional development activities. This article also presents the most important professional development, program, and system factors that explain teacher change.

Noteworthy Practices

  • OVAE funded the Basics of Adult Literacy Education, an online course for adult literacy instructors to provide a broad overview of issues in adult literacy for instructors with little formal training or experience in teaching adult literacy learners.

  • The Student Achievement in Reading (STAR) program is a comprehensive training and professional development package to help Adult Basic Education instructors use evidence-based reading instruction in the intermediate-level classroom.

  • The Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL) Center download files MS Word (134K) bridges research-to-practice to help adult educators value research and use it to improve practice. The Center disseminates information to adult educators and creates professional development materials that explain the research findings and how they improve student outcomes; models ways to apply the strategies to content; provides opportunities for practice and feedback; and identifies the audience for the instructional strategies in terms of educational functioning level.

  • The Standards-in-Action (SIA) Innovations are professional development methods and materials that support the implementation of content standards in adult education programs. The SIA innovations were developed for adult education program administrators and instructors with guidance from adult educators from around the country.

  • The California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO) fosters program improvement through a comprehensive statewide approach to high-quality professional development for the full range of adult education and literacy providers. CALPRO offers free resources to teachers nationwide.

  • Through SABES (The System for Adult Basic Education Support), the Massachusetts Department of Education has established and funded a voluntary licensure process for adult basic skills educators, based on rigorous professional standards.

  • OVAE is inviting states to participate in the Adult Numeracy Instruction Professional Development Program’s download files MS Word (114K) field test of a professional development model to strengthen math instruction in adult education.

Additional Links

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Last Modified: 05/07/2010