[Assessment 1122] Re: No Questions or Comments?!

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Forrest Chisman forrest at crosslink.net
Tue Feb 5 20:21:02 EST 2008


Amen, Jim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



The question is what to do about it. At CAAL we are gearing up to lobby
Congress and states for more funding specifically targeted at ESL. There
are at least two problems in doing this. 1) The lack of a strong push from
the field for changes in policy that will increase ESL-specific funding -
as opposed to just asking for "more" for adult education generally. The
existing professional organizations do the best they can, but I think they
need more grass roots support to create policy change. Too many ESL people
seem to be suffering in silence. 2) There seems to be no clear idea of how
much funding would be enough. Simply asking for "more" is less convincing
than coming up with a number and justifying it. Can any of you provide some
inputs into this? How much do you spend per student (or per FTE) in
non-credit ESL each year? How much would you have to spend to increase key
outcomes (retention, learning gains, and transitions)to the levels possible
by "the state of the art" -- to do the best job you are capable of doing?
And what would be the components of that additional spending? These are not
hypothetical questions. We run into them whenever we advocate for "more" for
ESL. But it's hard to justify any particular numbers. In fact, there is no
reliable data I know of about how much per student (or FTE) is now being
spent, on average. The numbers that float around indicate that program
expenditures vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand per student
(or FTE) per year, and there isn't much information that correlates spending
levels with program outcomes. PLEASE, if any of you can tell us your present
spending levels and what you think you need (and why), post it here. You
will help us and your colleagues A LOT!



Beyond getting more total funding, the question is whether programs can use
the funding they have to get better results. Some programs effectively do
this by limiting the number of students they serve - spreading the existing
funds over fewer students, so that at least those served get the full
benefit of a first rate program with first rate teachers. Sometimes there
are policy barriers to this; sometimes not. Does this seem reasonable
alternative to any of you?



Another approach is to go hunting for "hidden subsidies." I believe that one
advantage colleges have over other providers is that they have "spare cash"
or its equivalent available for programs that they chose to subsidize.
Sometimes this can entail outright distributions from "the general fund"
that augment state allocations. Sometimes it entails ramping up the level of
"in kind" services - such as guidance/counseling, IT support, physical
plant, etc. A few colleges we've seen have established "scholarships" for
ESL students who make transitions (sometimes in the form of partial tuition
waivers. Another tactic is to "classify" non-credit ESL as one of the
higher-reimbursement non-credit programs at the college - where there are
differentials in non-credit reimbursement (as here are, for example in
Illinois). Or classifying the upper levels of what would normally be
non-credit as "credit ESL." Or making part-time non-credit teachers
eligible for more of the benefits (e.g. healthcare) or training
opportunities available to full time faculty (such as time and funds for
continuing education/professional development). Have any of you made use of
any of these tactics? Is there barriers to your doing so?



Finally, as Jodi mentions in her post, a few colleges charge for non-credit
ESL service. They aren't allowed to charge for programs that receive federal
funds, but they can arguably charge for programs solely supported by state
funds, and this distinction can be made if the state allows. While charging
for non-credit ESL may seem heresy, and it isn't possible for all students
to pay very much, we have been surprised by how many students are willing to
pay how much, rather than sit on waiting lists. Is this an approach in
policy or practice that should be expanded?





From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Schneider, Jim
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2008 2:46 PM
To: The Assessment Discussion List
Subject: [Assessment 1112] Re: No Questions or Comments?!



I have directed a downtown Adult Learning Center for our local community
college for 14 years. The #1 issue that inhibits the success of all of our
learners - ESL, ABE, or GED is funding and infrastructure.



Funding puts severe limits on the pay that is available for instructors, the
hours that classes can be offered, and the support services that will be
available to the learners.



The reality of funding limitations on our program result in



- starting pay of $13.25 an hour, top pay of $15.25/hr - which is not
competitive with K-12 substitute teachers, let alone highly qualified,
instructors with any significant ESL and/or adult education training. Our
instructors work hard and are committed to the learning of their students,
but with an extremely limited well of knowledge training to draw upon.



- 4-10 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year also severely limits the pool
of interested instructors, as well as inhibiting the learning opportunities
of the students.



Similar to others who have posted - we find that the higher the
literacy/education of the ESL student upon enrollment, the more likely they
are to progress and transition to additional education/training - which
isn't all that different from the U.S. born ABE students.



We do have staff who do assist our learners transition to our short-term
vocational & credit programs as one of several responsibilities. The
majority of ESL learners who have transitioned have done so via short-term
vocational programming - CNA, welding, etc. Those who transitioned into a
credit program were again those who were well educated in their home
country.



Bottom line is that adult literacy desperately needs a serious commitment of
funding, support and infrastructure from the federal, state and local levels
if meaningful learning is going to take place. The system does very well
considering the limitations placed upon it. Professional development
opportunities are meaningless if the system doesn't support professionals.
There isn't an NRS accountability measure that can create Cadillac-level
students with the current Yugo budgets.



Sincerely,



Jim Schneider







_____

From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Marie Cora
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2008 5:51 PM
To: Assessment at nifl.gov
Subject: [Assessment 1103] No Questions or Comments?!

Hello everyone,



I'm so surprised! No one has anything to comment on regarding your
program's effectiveness at helping ESL students advance?? I was very
curious to know if subscribers experience the same types of issues that Dr.
Chisman and Dr. Crandall found in their research: a lack of intensity of
instruction/few protocols for transitioning students/few opportunities for
professional development.



What are the issues in your program that you feel inhibit the ESL student
from advancing? What do you try to do about that?



Please post your questions and comments now.



Thanks!



Marie Cora

Assessment Discussion List Moderator





Marie Cora

<mailto:marie.cora at hotspurpartners.com> marie.cora at hotspurpartners.com

NIFL Assessment Discussion List Moderator

http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/assessment





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