Adult Education and Literacy
Under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA; PL 113-128), Section 242, OCTAE carries out a program of national leadership activities to enhance the quality and outcomes of adult education and literacy activities and programs nationwide. OCTAE uses these funds to provide technical assistance and professional development to programs and contribute to research and evaluations of adult education programs and activities. This page categorizes and links to resources from current and recent OCTAE-led activities and provides links to fact sheets that capture resources by topic.
Implementing State-Adopted Challenging Content Standards
National activities funds have supported states' efforts to implement standards-based education programming to improve the quality of adult education and literacy programs nationwide, for over a decade. These projects support states to meet their required and allowable activities under WIOA Title II, Section 223.
- The Implementing Challenging Content Standards project is producing necessary supports to help instructors teach state-adopted challenging content standards and to help administrators sustain classroom implementation. The project also supports states' and programs' efforts to align their curriculum and instruction with their states’ standards.
- The Preparing Adult English Language Learners for Challenging State-Adopted Content Standards project supports states' and programs' efforts to use English language proficiency standards in connection with their academic content standards.
Partnering to Develop Career Pathways
Throughout WIOA, there is an emphasis on the development and expansion of career pathways for youth and adults. It is a model that is supported across Federal agencies, as well, as demonstrated in a 2016 Federal joint Dear Colleague Letter, and a Toolkit. OCTAE has invested in projects that support states’ efforts to expand career pathways for several years.
- Building Opportunities through Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) provides technical assistance to states in implementing the new requirements under section 243 of WIOA for the Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) program, including helping states directors and designated local program administrators to create a network of providers implement programs consistent with WIOA’s expanded focus on career pathways, integrated education and training, and placement in unsubsidized employment in in-demand industries and occupations that lead to economic self-sufficiency.
- The Technical Assistance for Developing Career Pathways project helped states further develop and scale their career pathways initiatives. The project provided tiers of technical assistance for States to streamline, expedite, and accelerate the implementation of career pathways as well as act as an information dissemination service to connect interested stakeholders to career pathways resources available across federal agencies, organizations, and pathway-focused initiatives. Find out more at Moving Pathways Forward.
- Through the Employability Standards in Career and Technical Education and Adult Education project, an interactive rubric was created for identifying and describing a set of common 21st century employability knowledge and skills as well as cross-referencing those skills to available assessments. Professional development modules and resources were created to train educators on integrating the employability skills. This project was co-funded with the Career and Technical Education branch of OCTAE.
- An Employer Engagement Toolkit offers resources for both adult education programs looking to partner with businesses as well as resources for businesses wanting to understand the opportunities available under WIOA to partner with education providers.
Disseminating Evidence-based Methods and Techniques
National activities funds have promoted evidence-based teaching and programming. The activities below support states’ efforts to ensure that eligible providers’ programs are based on the most rigorous research available so that participants achieve substantial learning gains. See fact sheets for WIOA-supported activities for Essential Components of Reading and English Language Acquisition.
- The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) is OCTAE’s primary outreach and dissemination mechanism to adult educators, offering a hybrid delivery model of on-demand, evidence-based professional learning through resources, online courses, and a virtual community of practice. It hosts the resources produced by other technical assistance contracts to provide a one-stop content repository. The LINCS Professional Development Center supports states to increase their own capacity to meet teachers’ learning needs, and coordinates high-quality training delivery. LINCS is supported by three separate contracts: Information Technology Services, Resource Collection, and Professional Development Center.
- Student Achievement in Reading (STAR) is expanding states' use of evidence-based reading practices by providing intensive training and coaching to teachers and local program administrators in 21 states.
- Research briefs from the Promoting Teacher Effectiveness in Adult Education, along with a validated set of teacher competencies, a teacher induction model, and a supporting toolkit, assist states and local programs in addressing teacher quality and effectiveness. The materials and resources are available through LINCS.
- The Improving Adult English Language Instruction project advanced years of previous investments to improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of teachers working with adult ELLs by facilitating innovative uses of existing resources as well as adding newly created professional development materials and resources are available through LINCS.
- A place-based cohort project implemented immigrant integration models that strategically coordinated across services and providers to promote immigrants' linguistic, civic, and economic integration. Resources from the project and lessons learned focus on the critical role network development played to ensuring the success of the networks’ immigrant integration activities.
- The Supporting Student Success: Adult Education and Remedial Education Reform in Community Colleges initiative is an investment aimed at identifying successful programs at community colleges across the United States, in the areas of acceleration, contextualization, hybrid, and student supports. This project aims to identify examples of alignment between adult and developmental education, validating those alignment activities at four selected community colleges, and identifying best practices for student success.
- The Improved Reentry Education (IRE) grant program supports demonstration projects in prisoner reentry education that develop evidence of reentry education’s effectiveness. IRE seeks to demonstrate that high-quality, appropriately designed, integrated, and well-implemented educational and related services—provided in institutional and community settings—are critical in supporting educational attainment and reentry success for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. The Reentry Education Toolkit offers guidelines, tools, and resources to help education providers implement the Reentry Education Framework. The Toolkit and Framework promotes the development of an education continuum spanning facility- and community-based reentry education programs. See a fact sheet on WIOA-related supports for Corrections Education and the Correctional Education web page for more on these initiatives and other resources for this population.
Integrating Technology into Teaching and Learning
National activities funds have supported states working toward effective methods for integrating technology into teaching, learning, and program management through funded adult education programs. Leadership funds underwrote the development of national policies on reporting distance education students. See a fact sheet for WIOA-supported Integrating Technology activities.
- Advancing Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Adult Education explores the values and potential of open education resources (OER) to support higher-level mathematics instruction in adult education, working with Teacher User Groups and subject matter experts.
- Open Education Resources to Promote Adult STEM Teaching and Learning developed innovative approaches to the teaching of foundational science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content to adult education students using open education resources (OER).
- Resources have been created to assist programs to increase adults’ digital literacy. LINCS also hosts a Learner Center in English and en Español to connect adult learners to high-quality, online learning opportunities.
- Who’s Online Where (WOW) Index helps programs and state leaders assess the existing availability of digital access resources and plan expansion of digital learning efforts by identifying sources of community estimates of household internet use and broadband access.
Advancing Research and Evidence
OCTAE has invested to expand the evidence base for adult education programming with the following efforts, including secondary analyses of datasets that can inform programming and state planning.
- Making Skills Everyone's Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States, summarizes a year-long effort to engage communities around the country in identifying solutions that improve the skills of adults.
- Executive Summary [PDF 2MB]
- Overview Slide Presentation [PPT 2MB]
- A Time to Reskill toolkit and a consultation paper was prepared for the engagement effort.
- The goal of the Survey of Adult Skills, conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as part of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), is to assess and compare the basic skills and the broad range of competencies of adults around the world. The assessment focuses on cognitive and workplace skills needed for successful participation in 21st-century society and the global economy.
- Time for the United States to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says, authored by the OECD, highlights the results of the survey in the U.S. and identifies their policy implications.
- PIAAC publications and products from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
- The Impact of Adult Basic Skills Participation studies are analyses of the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learners. Findings are published for Economic Outcomes, GED Attainment, Literacy Growth, Postsecondary Engagement, and Voting.
- Research briefs from the Promoting Teacher Effectiveness in Adult Education project examined state administrative data on the adult education teacher workforce and consider how to relate teacher characteristics to student outcomes.
- The National Academies of Science released the 2012 report, Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research. This report, funded by OCTAE, was followed with practitioner-friendly products that explore the findings and implications for classroom instruction.
- An Executive Summary and Infographic, Older Adolescent and Young Adult English Learners: A Study of Demographics, Policies, and Programs, summarizes an extensive analysis of the relevant data from the American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) data on English learners ages 14-21.
- A series of secondary analyses resulted in new insight into the labor market participation of immigrant professionals. See the full series.
- A series of secondary analyses examined the postsecondary and labor market outcomes and trajectories of GED-holders and high school diploma-holders. See the full series.