The Assessment-related WIA Community Conversations discussion covered a range of topics focused on the assessment questions below:
- What types of accountability measures are needed to successfully gauge whether adult learners are achieving their goals?
- What do you see as some of the greatest challenges with our present accountability measures? What are some innovative solutions to those challenges?
- How might WIA reauthorization support improving our present accountability measures? What are your hopes?
Subscribers from across the country were candid and articulate in expressing their concerns and sharing their experiences with Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier. Transcripts from each of the discussion threads appear below; due to the unique nature
of each discussion thread, some transcripts contain back and forth discussion while others contain a compilation of the posts.
- Welcome and Introduction
Marie Cora, Moderator, welcomed guest Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and subscribers to the discussion. The Asst. Secretary sent a welcome message describing her role as a listener, encouraging participation, noting she will share the comments
with the State Directors of Adult Education, and providing information on learning what feedback others around the country are giving the Asst. Secretary.
- Responses to Questions and Comments
Subscribers responded to the assessment questions posed in the discussion, and sent comments of their own as well. The range of discussion themes was very broad; numerous comments focused on the evaluation of learner gains in terms of educational functioning
levels, method of assessment, and number of hours of instruction vis-à-vis the NRS. A number of comments noted the paucity of quality, practical, and varied assessments available to the field, as well as the mis-match between the subject matter in adult education
and the assessments used for post-testing. Additional themes included challenges with follow-up, data sharing among systems, and the need for research.
- The GED as a Measure of Achievement
This thread of the discussion focused on the use of the GED as a post-test for adult education. Subscribers discussed their experiences highlighting what they found to be the pros and cons of using the test to measure achievement or gain. Responses on
the pro side of the discussion included that using the GED as a measure of gain was appropriate for both GED preparation programs as well as for certain job-training programs where the test is required for entry or exit. Arguments on the con side included
that the purpose of the GED is not to measure progress or gain, but to indicate level of knowledge. Additional discussion included not counting GED completers who enter programs at lower educational levels, and the GED as an indicator versus college readiness.
- Educational Gain, NRS Functioning Levels, and Post-Testing
Subscribers discussed some similar themes to those found in the thread entitled “Responses to Questions and Comments,” however, the focus on the NRS and its demands was more detailed in this thread. For example, a number of experiences were shared outlining
the frustrations and limitations with the present criteria for number of hours of instruction as well as concerns about the criteria for educational gain. Subscribers noted the uneven distribution of educational gain particularly for the ESL levels. Other
themes within this thread include: lack of ways to report partial or limited progress, difficulties with follow-up under the present regulations, and the narrow limit of goals accepted for the lowest level learners.
- Student Buy-In
The discussion focused on how to achieve students’ confidence and belief in the use of assessments, particularly when it is difficult to demonstrate to learners the connection between classroom content and certain tests. Suggestions for getting students
to “buy in” included explaining that part of what the tests are used for is to confirm the good work of the program and therefore retain funding; drafting letters for students that outline the benefits of taking tests; reviewing students’ test results with
them so they understand their performance and the process; and impressing the importance of test taking skills.