WIA Community Conversations Summary - Transitions to Post-secondary Education

WIA Community Conversations Summary

Transitions to Post-secondary Education

WIA Community Conversations | Other WIA Community Conversations Summaries

Transitions to Post-secondary Education Questions

  • What are the successful ingredients needed to prepare adult learners for success in post-secondary education and training? What are the challenges?
  • What are some innovative solutions to those challenges?
  • What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?


Question 1:  What are the successful ingredients needed to prepare adult learners for success in post-secondary education and training?

Academic Preparation/Curriculum and Instruction: The GED preparation curriculum needs to be revised with an eye to college readiness. Practices such as career ladders, dual enrollment, and contextualized instruction are important to this effort.
Concern was expressed to make sure GED students participating in a dual enrollment course(s) have the academic skills needed to succeed. Transition students need the academic preparation (e.g. critical thinking, problem-solving and algebraic thinking skills)
and ability to deal with the personal and professional demands of college.   To succeed students need to possess study skills, time management, multi-tasking, teamwork, schedule demands, study time, and a social support system. There must be curricular alignment between the ABE and post-secondary education systems.

Articulation: The adult literacy program and the post-secondary program need to articulate the how students can move from one to the other almost seamlessly. More states are standardizing their higher education system's placement testing
protocols. Making practice placement tests (i.e., COMPASS and ACCUPLACER) available in adult education centers is sees as critical to prepare students for those tests and the expectations of their state college system.  The disalignment that now exists between
college-placement tests and the GED must be addressed.

Counseling/Advising:   Students need college knowledge (e.g., financial aid, navigating a college system and career counseling) and to create an identity as a college student. Other counseling elements are: a strong orientation/and intake
process; and high-quality mentoring.

Professional Development:  Adult educators must be committed to promoting college readiness. Teachers must understand the available career paths and know how to link academic skills to these goals; know and practice student-centered education principles; lead students to high growth job and/or college-level program; and knowing college placement tests and admission expectations.  More integrated professional development where workforce, higher education, and ABE staff can learn together and from each other is needed.

Partnership: A successful transition program requires a partnership between an adult education program and a postsecondary institution committed to the success of adult students accessing and succeeding in their academic programs. Also, the
federally funded WIA and TRIO (Educational Opportunity Centers) programs may play the role of a "Navigator” by encouraging adults and helping them navigate the bureaucracy of postsecondary education.

Administrative: Separate transitions to college program within ABE programs, the need for managed enrollment and strong attendance policies were recommended.


Question 2: What are the challenges? What are some innovative solutions to those challenges?

Resources: Transition programs need more resources to achieve their goals. Resources are especially needed to support planning, professional development and to allow for a higher ratio of full-time positions than currently exists is needed
now. Often the legislation that governs funding for ABE does not provide funding for transition services.

Computer Literacy: How to assure all teachers and students are computer literate for 21st Century jobs?  More funding is needed to provide for current technology hardware, software and training.

Service delivery system fragmentation: A lack of alignment often exists at the county, state and national level.  Often the efforts of educational and workplace organizations are disjointed.

Data Collection and Management: The software systems of ABE data management and the college data management systems are not integrated. Adult education should be included in statewide data information systems. We need to know who goes on to
college, who persists in college, and how our completers (and non-completers) do in the labor market.

Test Alignment: There is a lack of alignment between college placement tests, GED tests and the ABE curriculum. A major issue with Accuplacer is that it starts out with lower level math questions, so that does understand algebra will never
get to reveal that knowledge because the Accuplacer will not bump the student into algebraic questions is s/he misses the "simpler" ones. Many states are working to bridge this gap in knowledge and to address the challenges within the testing processes.


Grants: Provide grants to the states for the creation of both proven transition services and accompanying legislation and infrastructure creation. Have a grant competition for states that are showing commitment to data systems, articulation,
college knowledge, teacher professional development, and other "best practices" and want to experiment with new ideas. Work with local/regional Department of Human Services to meet the needs of TANF eligible students with other collaborating agencies to fund
transition programs.

Examples of system integration:  The Shifting Gears initiative (Joyce Foundation funded) was cited. See Post #233.  Also, see Post #245 for discussion of Kentucky’s restructuring in 2000.


What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

  • WIA reauthorization needs to include provision for multi-year tracking of outcomes. We see a very incomplete picture of adults’ learning gains or entry into jobs or further education when we only look at one year’s data.
  • With the current legislation, we are not allowed to serve adults who already have a diploma. It is difficult for most students to work on completion of their work for the high school diploma and at the same time go to classes to transition to post secondary
    education as well as dealing with their daily life responsibilities. I suggest that WIA reauthorization addresses this issue.
  • There needs to be a more integrated alignment between Title I and Title II of WIA. An adult education student usually cannot receive a WIA voucher without a GED or better English skills, so the student is referred to an adult education program to acquire
    these skills. At the same time, this student needs to improve his skills to transition into a better job or college, but he cannot achieve this currently under WIA legislation.  Strengthen the connections between ABE and Workforce in ways that support rather
    than hamstring our systems, and that higher education and training will be elevated as the important third leg of the stool. All three systems are underfunded, and ultimately coordination is often overwhelmed by immediate service delivery needs. When authorizing
    legislation in one area does not show corresponding emphasis in other relevant and crucial areas, we end up with weak and often conflicted systems. I hope the legislation will support coordinated, if not integrated, strategies to bring our different worlds

Currently the paperwork requirements of WIA are taking too much time/effort away from providing services to clients. In Illinois, JTED monitoring is a good example of sufficient and efficient monitoring.