Organization: Jobs for the Future
Summary: Community colleges in four states are making progress in helping adults who fall below basic literacy levels improve their academic skills and land decent-paying jobs. That’s the conclusion of an independent evaluation of the Accelerating Opportunity Program two years into the three-year effort.
Jobs for the Future manages the program, which is designed to transform how states work with adult-education programs at community and technical colleges to educate and train adult students who score between the sixth and 12th grades in basic-skills levels. The report, prepared by the Urban Institute, a research group on economic and social policy, documents progress made in the participating states: Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Among the report’s findings:
- Team teaching allows instructors to impart basic academic skills at the same time students are earning academic credit in training for jobs. Instructors who were initially wary of such an arrangement are now warming to it.
- A “navigator” or “success coach” outside the classroom is key to linking students with academic, financial, personal, and other support services that help them stay enrolled.
- Nearly a third of participating students so far have been placed in some form of work-based learning, such as internships, apprenticeships, or clinical nursing positions.
Bottom Line: Students with particularly weak mathematics and reading skills typically face long, uphill battles to catch up, earn postsecondary credentials, and get a job with family-sustaining wages. The Accelerating Opportunity Program offers one strategy for states to consider.Return to Top