Findings from the Accelerating Opportunity Evaluation

Evaluation report on the Accelerating Opportunity (AO) initiative, which aimed to help adults with low basic skills earn valued occupational credentials, obtain well-paying jobs, and sustain rewarding careers.

Lauren Eyster
Theresa Anderson
Robert I. Lerman
Daniel Kuehn
Burt S. Barnow
Maureen Conway
Ranita Jain
Marcela Montes
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
George Washington University
Aspen Institute
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

This resource reports the findings of an evaluation of the Accelerating Opportunity (AO) initiative. AO is an initiative that focuses on career pathways and IET programming that offers adult learners the opportunity to enroll in for-credit career and technical education while increasing basic literacy skills, English language skills, and/or earning a high school credential.  This report includes:

  • Description of the AO model
  • Description of the evaluation design
  • Description of programs included in the study
  • Key findings (e.g., student experiences, credit and credential gains, learner labor market)
  • Benefits of programming as related to costs
  • Implications for policy
  • Implications for practice
Descriptive Research
What the experts say

The three-year (2011-2014) AO program was an important and comprehensive implementation of career pathway and IET newly emergent models. These models and their results helped inform the current WIOA adult education legislation (particularly the IET requirements) as well as many state and local level career pathway and IET policy changes. This evaluation report is an excellent resource for new programs that are planning and implementing a similar program for adult education students who lack high school diplomas or the equivalent. The authors provide examples of how state or local programs can change the delivery of adult education for students by allowing community and technical colleges to enroll them in for-credit career and technical education (CTE) courses while they earn their high school credentials, improve their basic academic skills, or build their English-language abilities.

The description of the need for AO programming and the summary of the various state delivery models are as insightful and potentially helpful as the description of the AO student evaluation outcomes. A deficiency of the report is that it lacks a description or summary of how comparison groups of students were selected. That description can be found in interim AO reports that are referenced in this document. This comparison group selection description would be helpful for the many existing IET programs that are interested in a more rigorous and evidenced-based evaluation approach to the research question of program benefits.

Resource Notice

This site includes links to information created by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user’s convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this non-ED information. The inclusion of these links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse views expressed, or products or services offered, on these non-ED sites.

Please note that privacy policies on non-ED sites may differ from ED’s privacy policy. When you visit, no personal information is collected unless you choose to provide that information to us. We do not give, share, sell, or transfer any personal information to a third party. We recommend that you read the privacy policy of non-ED websites that you visit. We invite you to read our privacy policy.