|Resources in the Field of Immigrant Adult Education and Workforce
Arranged in order of publication date with the most recent on
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The ability to understand, speak, read, and write English as the nation’s common language is crucial to the
successful integration of immigrants into our society. Without English, immigrants are often locked into low wage jobs, blocked
from acquiring new skills and new jobs, denied equal access to health and other services, and shut
off from contact with the larger society. Vocational and post-secondary educational opportunities also enable immigrants
and their children to realize their full potential. These resources cover the topics of immigrant adult education and workforce
Talking Jobs: Lessons from ENB's 2016 ESOL Student Employment Survey,
English for New Bostonians and National Skills Coalition, 2016, 19 pp.
for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes are a critical investment in immigrants' success in America. The study Talking
Jobs: Lessons from ENB's 2016 ESOL Student Employment Survey from English for New Bostonians examines a survey of 1,463
adult students in 39 MA ESOL programs. Survey respondents are primarily involved in four main employment sectors: accommodation
and food services, retail trade, healthcare and social assistance and other services such as facilities support. While the
one million immigrants living in MA are only slightly more likely to work in the labor force compared to native-born workers,
immigrant ESOL students have a labor force participation rate of 85 percent, compared to the general immigrant rate of 68
percent. Survey results suggest that foreign credentials are not always recognized by employers, and that limited English
proficiency may prevent qualified immigrants from obtaining white-collar jobs. Significantly, half (50 percent) of survey
respondents said that their coworkers required English classes. The authors recommend that advocates support investment in
adult English programs through public and private sources, and that employers offer ESOL programs to their employees either
on- or off-site with tuition reimbursement as incentive. (Sarah Purdy for The ILC Public Education
Serving Immigrant Families through Two-Generation Programs: Identifying Family Needs and Responsive
Migration Policy Institute, November, 2016, 49 pp.
Authors: Maki Park, Margie McHugh, & Caitlin
More resources for two-generation programs could help break cycles of intergenerational
poverty and increase stability in immigrant families, according to this report funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundaton. The
report seeks to fill the knowledge gap regarding the importance and impact of two-generation programs-services providing
adult education, workforce training or parenting skills as well as early childhood development opportunities-in serving immigrants
and refugees with young children. Data analysis reveals that the children of immigrants are more likely to live in poverty
and in households where parents have low education and limited English proficiency than their U.S.-born peers. The authors
examine eleven exemplary programs that utilize a two-generation approach and identify the program elements that seem to be
most conducive to success. Due to the complex immigrant status restrictions applied to federal and local family services,
English language programs have become the primary path by which immigrant parents with young children participate in two-generation
services. With the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), intergenerational programs are threatened
with extinction, as the metrics for evaluating these programs do not fit the family-oriented goals of these programs. The
authors maintain that better data analysis and more customized funding are necessary for equitable access to these two-generation
programs. Given their analysis of factors that make for exceptional two-generation programs, the authors recommend increasing
federal support for parent-focused literacy initiatives and greater flexibility in evaluating them. (Sarah
Purdy for The ILC Public Education Institute)
State Sociodemographic Portraits of Immigrant and U.S. Born Parents of Young Children
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2016
Authors: Maki Park, Margie McHugh, & Caitlin Katsiaficas
As children in immigrant families comprise a growing share of the U.S. population ages
0-8, MPI has published a set of 30 fact sheets providing an overview of key sociodemographic characteristics of native- and
foreign-born parents of young children in states with the largest number of immigrant families. The data sets are designed
to help states and community stakeholders target early-childhood and parent-focused investments towards programs that close
school readiness gaps and ensure that parents have the education and skills to support their families.
Skills and Training for New Americans: Creating a Thriving Economy that Works for All of Us,
National Immigration Forum, November 2016, 23 pp.
Published as the United States prepares for a new administration in Washington, this brief reviews the important
role that immigrants play in the nation's economy and highlights barriers to their full participation and upward mobility
(such as lack of English language skills and access to training). Five main ways of overcoming these barriers are presented.
The first strategy is building English and basic skills through adult education. The paper presents data about
the impact of adult education programs and advocates for increasing expenditures in this area. The second strategy is increasing
access to employment training services under WIOA Title I, largely through programs that integrate English education with
targeted vocational training. The third strategy focuses on making higher education more affordable and responsive to the
needs of learners (e.g., by providing flexible scheduling and expanding Pell Grant eligibility to include year-round learners
and those with college degrees earned in their home countries). The fourth strategy focuses on building digital skills that
support both employment needs and allow adults to solve problems they face in their everyday lives (e.g., accessing information
online). The fifth strategy focuses on tapping the talents of foreign-trained immigrants. The paper reviews promising programs
that allow immigrant professionals to return to their occupations and highlights federal policy that makes this a priority.
For each of the strategies under consideration, the paper provides data about both current conditions and about the
potential impact of the proposed changes. In addition to making the case for increased expenditures, the paper argues
for regulatory changes that would provide more flexibility to states, programs and learners. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair
Skills for Good Jobs: An Agenda for the Next President
National Skills Coalition, November, 2016, 38 pp.
This transition paper
constitutes an effort by the National Skills Coalition to reimagine workforce, career and foundational education at the federal
level. Its key concern is moving millions of adults into middle-skills jobs that will lift them out of poverty.
One key strategy calls for more explicit coordination of efforts across multiple departments and agencies. A second important
strategy envisions expanded education and training opportunities for people, both through additional funding and by changing
regulations so that those receiving public support can upskill rather than be forced to take jobs that are unlikely to provide
upward mobility. The report is organized into eight policy suggestions (e.g., "developing a job-driven community
college compact for today's students" and "support(ing) the development of five million new apprentices") and
it details what it believes can be achieved in the first 100 days of the next administration, the first year and the term
as a whole. One of the policy areas the report addresses is the need to integrate the country's growing immigrant workforce.
The Coalition proposes that any newly created path to citizenship includes opportunities to develop foundational skills and
participate in occupational training. The report also directly addresses the need to help immigrants and the community
at-large take advantage of the skills immigrant workers already possess. The report includes detailed information about
how new interagency working groups can be created and how changes in tax policy can help to pay for new educational and training
expenditures. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Integrated Education and Training Policy Toolkit,
National Skills Coalition, October 2016, 10 pp.
Author: Amanda Bergson-Shilcock
This toolkit provides information that state policymakers, educators, and advocates can use
to promote the creation or expansion of integrated education and training (IET) programs. Noting that middle-skill jobs constitute
54 percent of the US labor market but that only 44 percent of the existing workforce is trained to this level, the toolkit
shines a light on model programs that are helping lower-skilled workers qualify for these jobs. The toolkit defines IET as
a program that simultaneously offer basic skills instruction, including contextualized ESL, along with occupational or industry-specific
training. Among the programs profiled in the toolkit are: Washington State’s I-Best program, Iowa’s Pathways for
Academic Career and Employment, and Minnesota’s Fast TRAC program. The Toolkit also discusses how states can incentivize
the creation of such programs and how various sources of funding can be tapped to cover their cost. The publication concludes
with five criteria that should be met in setting up such programs, including targeting high demand industry sectors and utilizing
non-instructional staff to provide supportive counseling services. The appendix includes a template that can be used to develop
state legislation supporting IET. A companion publication to the Toolkit is a 50-state scan of IET policies and programs, which found that at least 18 states have enacted an IET policy.
Improving Immigrant Access to Workforce Services: Partnerships, Practices & Policies,
The Aspen Institute, July, 2016, 18 pp.
Authors: Marcela Montes & Vickie Choitz
paper begins by reviewing data showing the need for better integrating immigrants into the workforce development and training
system, including economic indicators that point to the marginalization of many immigrants. The study itself consists of a
literature review and interviews with 16 representatives of different organizations, including national workforce development
institutes and local community-based organizations and training programs. A key concern was the underrepresentation
of immigrants in WIOA Title I programs. The paper suggests a number of reasons for this problem, including policies that do
not incentivize working with the immigrant population and the limited connection and coordination between workforce training
providers and community-based organizations. To address the situation, the paper argues for both changes in federal
policy and leveraging of existing policy. The authors also detail the need for better sharing of the lessons being learned
by projects that are successfully making these types of connections, including workforce development projects that intentionally
take into the account the needs of immigrant populations. In addition, the authors suggest that immigrant-focused organizations
need to increase their efforts to develop partnerships and to be part of regional boards that are striving towards integration
of services. The authors also conclude that there is a need for more accurate data systems so that the participation of immigrants
in workforce programs can be better assessed. To accomplish these difficult but important tasks the authors stress the importance
of increased dialogue among all stakeholders. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Digital Divide Narrows for Latinos as More Spanish Speakers and Immigrants Go Online,
Pew Research Center, July, 2016, 23 pp.
Authors: Anna Brown, Gustavo López, & Mark Hugo Lopez
This paper presents a demographic analysis of internet access in 2015 with a focus on the
Latino population of the United States. The research suggests the picture is complex. For example, since 2009
the rate of Latino adults who report using the Internet has climbed to 84 percent, which has drastically decreased the gap
in internet use between Latino and white adults (the white rate currently stands at 89 percent). However, only 46 percent
of Latinos access the Internet through a broadband home connection (compared to 73 percent of whites). Use of mobile
devices is comparative (80 percent for Latinos and 76 percent for whites). The study also notes that the Latino population
that does not have access to internet (16 percent) is largely foreign-born and Spanish-language dominant. Levels of
education, income and age are also associated with different patterns of access. Although the authors do not present
any implications for practice based on these results, it would seem that programs that provide education and services to Latino
populations must be cognizant of the complexity of their digital access. For example, given that a Latino client or student
might be more likely to access information from a mobile device, attention must be paid to how a program's online site is
set up. In addition, the disparity in access between US-born and foreign-born Latinos needs to be addressed during outreach
and communications (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
This paper summarizes the results of the first year of an initiative
called Building Community Partnerships to Serve Immigrant Workers (BCPIW). The goal of this project is to establish
and support partnerships between community based-organizations, in particular worker centers, and community colleges in their
locale. The report presents an argument for the need for such collaboration, reviews the process the BCPIW followed to identify
best practices, and presents case studies of eight partnerships across six different states. The partnerships focused on expanding
immigrants' access to education and training by adapting curriculum, creating new programs of study and developing wrap-around
services to address learners' non-academic needs. Participants suggested that the peer-learning model used by the initiative
was helpful in building trust and familiarity between the worker centers, CBOs and community colleges, and the paper goes
into some detail about the nature of the on-going assistance the collaborating partners received. The case studies include
descriptions of successes (e.g., the creation of new curricular pathways to support immigrant students' progress towards industry
certification) and hurdles they encountered (e.g., the difficulty of identifying potential employer partners). A theme that
emerged across the experiences of the eight partnerships is the need for institutions and organizations to be intentional
about how immigrants and refugees navigate their spaces and programs, rather than letting polices and approaches develop in
an ad hoc fashion. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Teaching Toward Equity: The Importance of English Classes to Reducing Economic Inequality in
The Center for Popular Democracy & Make the Road New York, March, 2016, 12 pp.
This position paper focuses on the potential impact that ESOL (English for Speakers
of Other Languages) classes can have on reducing the persistent income inequality that immigrants in New York City and State
are experiencing. Hamaji begins by reviewing data about the employment status and wages of immigrant adults who are
limited English proficient (LEP), noting that they are slightly less likely to be employed and earn significantly less than
immigrants who are English proficient. Hamaji suggests that helping these LEP individuals to become proficient in English
would not only boost their own earning power, it would contribute to the overall economic health of the city and state.
In addition to addressing strictly economic issues, Hamaji also discusses how limited proficiency in English also negatively
impacts immigrants' ability to defend their rights as workers (e.g., fighting back against wage theft and unsafe working conditions)
and their confidence when advocating on behalf of their family (e.g., when speaking with their children's teachers or doctors).
To this end, the paper includes testimonials from three ESOL students who have benefitted from their classes. Hamaji
presents data that suggests while the size of the immigrant population in New York City and State has continued to increase,
the number of seats available to LEP learners has declined over the last decade. The report concludes by asking for
increases in funding in a variety of programs that provide ESOL, adult education and workforce development programs (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
Workforce Development Rhetoric and the Realities of 21st Century Capitalism,
Literacy & Numeracy Studies, 24:1 (2016), 22 pp.
Author: Erik Jacobson
This paper questions the reigning orthodoxy in the workforce development field, as reflected in the Workforce Innovation
and Opportunity Act (WIOA) passed by Congress on a bipartisan basis in 2014. WIOA posits the existence of a "skills gap"
between the hiring requirements of employers and the availability of qualified workers to meet those requirements. Not only
does the author marshal evidence to challenge this assumption, he also questions whether the purpose of adult education should
be solely to meet the needs of employers. Jacobson cites the "disproportionate growth in low-skill, low-wage work
that started in the 1990s," a decrease in middle-wage jobs, and the increase in demand for high-skilled, white-collar
workers. This "polarization of the workforce" leaves little room for lower skill workers to train for family-sustaining
jobs, as there are so few of them to go around. Put in another way, Jacobson writes, "we cannot train our way out of
poverty one worker at a time." Instead, we need to focus on the economic conditions that give rise to inequities in society
and the structural solutions that might reduce those inequities, such as a floor on wages to reduce the growing number of
poverty-level jobs, investments in infrastructure improvements to create new jobs, and strengthening the safety net for all
workers. Jacobson urges adult education teachers to weave a social justice perspective into their work, to question the
"methods fetish" in education, and to recognize that "education alone is not enough to move a whole class of
people out of poverty..."
Building Career Pathways for Adult Learners: An Evaluation of Progress in Illinois, Minnesota,
and Wisconsin After Eight Years of Shifting Gears,
The Joyce Foundation, September, 2015, 43 pp.
Authors: Brandon Roberts
& Derek Price
The Joyce Foundation launched the Shifting Gears Initiative in the six
Midwestern states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin in 2007. The purpose of the initiative was
to help low-skilled adults transition to post-secondary education and family-sustaining employment through the development
of "bridge programs," i.e. programs that would connect basic skills education (including ESL) to post-secondary
education in high demand occupational sectors. The foundation invested $12.7 million dollars in the project between 2007 and
2014. This report is the project's second evaluation study, focusing on the three states of Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
- the only states receiving renewal funding from 2012 to 2014. Although the project made "demonstrable progress"
during this period, the number of total participants remained small, never reaching more than 5 percent of the adult learners
in need. The total number served in 2014 was 3,700. The percentage of bridge participants who earned a postsecondary credential
during the period from 2011 to 2014 was 6 percent in Illinois, 15 percent in Minnesota, and 25 percent in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's
favorable results seem to have been driven by the exceptionally good outcomes for immigrant participants. The Shifting Gears
Initiative was a precursor to the federal Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Act in 2014, which drew some of its inspiration,
especially its emphasis on "career pathways," from the project.
Tuition Equality Act is a Half-Measure Without Access to Financial Aid,
New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), April, 2015, 11 pp.
Author: Erika J. Nava
This report argues that in-state tuition for qualified undocumented students is insufficient to lower the barriers
to college access for these students, who tend to be from lower-income families and therefore reliant on state higher education
assistance to cover college costs (New Jersey at present does not provide such assistance). NJPP surveyed 11 public colleges
and universities in New Jersey to determine the impact of a 2013 law granting in-state tuition to undocumented students. Despite
the large size of New Jersey's undocumented population, only 251 new undergraduate undocumented students enrolled at these
institutions during 2014. With a substantial drop in state aid for public colleges since 2007, the average cost of tuition
and fees at these schools has risen by 24 percent to an average level of $13,002 -- 42 percent more than the national average
of $9,139. Citing sources indicating that the average family income of undocumented families in New Jersey is $39,100 (about
$75,000 less than that of New Jerseyans in general), and pointing out that undocumented students are not eligible for federal
Pell grants, the author suggests that many of these students will have a hard time continuing their education without access
to New Jersey's need-based Tuition Aid Grant, which currently provides 82,000 awards per year. The balance of the report addresses
arguments of opponents who claim that such a policy change would either cost too much or take opportunities away from other
In the Shadows of the Ivory Tower: Undocumented Undergraduates and the Liminal State
of Immigration Reform,
The UndocuScholars Project, The Institute for Immigration, Globalization & Education, University
of California, Los Angeles, January, 2015, 29 pp.
Authors: Robert T. Teranishi, Carola Suárez-Orozco, and Marcelo
Funded by the Ford Foundation, this study is the product of a joint
effort by the Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education at the University of California, Los Angeles and
the UndocuScholars Project. Based on survey responses from 909 undocumented individuals from 34 states, the report sheds light
on the range of issues facing undocumented students seeking to access and succeed in higher education. The survey captures
basic demographic information about these students, including country of origin, age at arrival in the U.S., college majors,
and socioeconomic background (61.3 percent, for example, come from homes with an annual household income of less than $30,000).
The researchers found that 65.9 percent of the sample had applied for and received deferred action under the DACA Program
and that these students had derived important advantage from the program, including the ability to work while going to school.
However, DACA did not eliminate all the barriers and uncertainties that these students face, including "residual worries"
about deportation both for themselves, if and when the DACA program ends, and their loved ones. A "surprising" finding
of the study was high anxiety levels for DACA recipients, notwithstanding the short-term reprieve from deportation. The report
emphasizes that state and local authorities, as well as higher education personnel, can adopt policies that are either inclusionary
or exclusionary. Perhaps, the most important public policies affecting these students are whether they qualify for in-state
tuition and whether they can apply for state-funded tuition assistance. The authors review the variations that exist around
the country on these questions. The authors also identify ways to improve the campus climate for undocumented students, including
developing "safe spaces" for these students. They conclude by proposing a nine-point program for creating an "undocufriendly"
Missing in Action: Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized
Youth and Adults,
National Skills Coalition, February 2015, 14 pp.
Unrah & Amanda Bergson-Shilcock
paper examines the disconnect between the manpower needs of the American economy and the educational and training requirements
imposed on undocumented immigrants seeking to regularize their status. The authors review current or proposed legislation
or administrative actions, including the DREAM Act, the original Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the
Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity
Act (WIOA), and future comprehensive immigration reform. They observe that these requirements "have not lined up
with what the labor market actually demands, and to date, no policy has included the investments or infrastructure needed
to support job-driven educational pathways for unauthorized youth and adults." For example, provisions of the DREAM
Act "do not reflect the educational outcomes demanded by the labor market." Applicants for legalization are required
to obtain a two-year degree and are not allowed to substitute an industry-recognized, middle-skill credential. Although
the provisions of the DACA program are less onerous than the DREAM Act, i.e. requiring that applicants only be enrolled in
a career-focused education or literacy program, the program presents a "Catch-22" for applicants, as Title I of
the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is only open to people who are already work-authorized, not those applying
for work authorization. The authors urge advocates and policy-makers n the immigrant integration field to fashion "an
intentional, pro-active skills strategy" as they consider various reform proposals. (Ariella Katz-Suchov for The
ILC Public Education Institute)
Through an Immigrant Lens: PIAAC Assessment of the Competencies of Adults in
the United States,
Migration Policy Institute, February, 2015, 36 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova &
This report analyzes immigrant-related data from the 2012 Program for the International Assessment
of Adults Competencies (PIACC), which evaluated the cognitive skills of adults (ages 16 to 65) in 24 member countries of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Including the United States. Approximately 166,000 adults, including
5,010 in the United States, participated in the survey. The results for the US were quite disappointing. The US average literacy
score (270) ranked 16th out of 24 countries and below the OECD average of 273. Fifteen percent (636 persons) of
the US total survey sample of 5,010 persons was foreign-born. Immigrants had substantially lower proficiency scores than the
US-born in all three tested domains: English literacy proficiency, numeracy, and problem-solving skills. However, removing
immigrants from the survey sample did not significantly improve the US overall ranking. The report goes on to take a granular
look at various subcategories of immigrants. For example, literacy scores are lower for Hispanics and Blacks than for
other immigrants, and over half of immigrants with bachelor's degrees are not proficient in literacy or numeracy, suggesting
the need for targeted programs to serve this subset of the immigrant population. Unlike their counterparts in other OECD countries,
immigrants with the lowest literacy levels in the US tend to be working, not unemployed, which, the authors observe, argues
for the development of workplace literacy programs to serve them. This report was commissioned by the American Institutes
for Research and funded through a contract with the National Center for Education Statistics.
New York State’s Language Barrier,
Center for an Urban Future, January, 2015, 8 pp.
David Giles and Barbara Wijering
New York State has
seen significant growth in its immigrant population in the last decade mostly outside of New York City, according to the report
“New York State’s Language Barriers.” Despite this growth, authors David Giles and Barbara Wijering argue
that funding and implementing needed English as a Second Language (ESOL) programs are not keeping pace. The data, sourced
from the American Community Survey and the Literacy Assistance Center, show that during the same eight-year period in which
the immigrant population increased significantly (ranging from eight percent to 48 percent depending on the county), the number
of state-funded ESL seats dropped by 32 percent. As state funding remained flat during this period, fewer
students received more hours of instruction. While the increase in instructional hours was beneficial for those students,
it left all of the others out. As a result, state residents with self-reported low English proficiency increased by 14 percent
between 2005 and 2013. The authors emphasize the importance of English proficiency to immigrants’ workforce integration
and economic success. Increasing access to ESOL education through state funding for this growing section of the workforce,
this article states, will generate an economic spark for upstate New York cities and counties, and for employers and residents
alike. (Jamie Cross for The ILC Public Education Institute
Lessons from the Local Level: DACA's Implementation and Impact on Education and Training Success,
Migration Policy Institute, January, 2015, 53 pp.
Sarah Hooker, Margie McHugh & Angelo Mathay
Focusing on promising educational strategies
in seven states with large immigrant populations (California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Texas),
this study explores the connection between educational success and the ability of DREAMers to qualify for immigration relief.
Funded with support from the Gates Foundation, the study covers initiatives in four different settings: high schools, postsecondary
education, adult education, and legal services. For each setting, the report offers a number of "takeaways," including
the following: (High Schools) Dropout prevention and recovery programs can be important educational strategies for out-of-school
DACA-eligible youth; (Postsecondary Education) In-state tuition laws (without restrictions on access to GED completers) need
to be expanded, along with eligibility for state financial aid (now available in only five states); (Adult Education) Spanish
language instruction for high school equivalency is an effective strategy for out-of-school youth; and (Legal Services) Legal
service providers need guidance in providing referrals to education and training programs for DACA applicants, while schools
need guidance in how to share information without running afoul of privacy regulations. The report concludes with the following
observation: "As many cities and states seek to reap economic and social gains from bringing DACA youth into the formal
labor market and building their human capital, the initiatives described in this report provide important lessons for achieving
the twin goals of assisting youth who may qualify for new immigration relief measures while also promoting their education
and career advancement."
Bridging the Gap for Foreign-Educated Immigrants: A Guide for Community Colleges,
Global Talent Bridge in partnership with the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, 2014,
Primary Author: Alexandra Lowe
Foreign-educated immigrants, i.e. immigrants
with college degrees or credits from their home country, often lack the knowledge and resources needed to obtain a job worthy
of their educational accomplishments. This immigrant "brain waste" has overall negative effects such as missed economic
growth, wasted skills and loss of tax revenue. This report draws attention to the central role that community colleges
can play in helping skilled immigrants transition into professional careers. The guide encourages community colleges to think
of foreign-educated immigrants as economic and social assets, who can fill skill shortages in key sectors and occupations,
if properly guided and assisted. It identifies resources for community college educators and administrators, with suggestions
as to how to reach out to foreign-educated immigrants and integrate them into existing programs and resources. The Guide also
describes promising practices from community colleges across the country and includes profiles of individual students who
traversed the pathway to successful careers in America. Among the many observations in the report are the following:
foreign-educated immigrants learn about their local community college purely by chance (targeted outreach would lead to higher
enrollments); foreign-educated immigrants don't want to start all over again (credential recognition and prior learning assessments
are important steps on the path to career reentry); long years of enrollment in non-credit English language courses can serve
as a disincentive to career advancement (co-enrollment in credit-bearing courses and "bridge programs" are effective
strategies); and foreign-educated immigrants are often unaware of financial assistance options (teachers and advisors
should communicate this information to students). (Ariella Katz Suchow for The Immigrant Learning
Center, Inc.'s Public Education Institute)
ESL Participation as a Mechanism for Advancing Health Literacy in Immigrant Communities,
Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, October 14, 2014, 17 pp.
Maricel G. Santos et al
Over a 4-year period (2008-2012), a team of San
Francisco-based researchers studied the potential of the adult ESL classroom to produce improvements in health literacy, especially
as it relates to the prevention of Type-2 diabetes within immigrant communities. The project consisted of several phases,
including a teacher survey and a classroom pilot involving 5 teachers and 116 learners. The project was motivated by the belief
that health literacy is not solely a matter of cognitive skill development, but also the result of the social interaction
and social support that takes place in the classroom. This report questions the "oversimplified logic" that constructs
health literacy as an individually experienced set of reading and writing skills. The report underscores the importance of
health knowledge in native language, peer-to-peer learning, the commitment of teachers to health literacy, and the ripple
effect of students serving as agents of change within their communities. The report concludes that "adult literacy practitioners
are strategic intermediaries in the work of immigrant health care" and that health care organizations and funders should
partner with the adult education system in the effort to promote greater health literacy.
Investing in English Skills: The Limited English Proficient Workforce in U.S. Metropolitan
Brookings, September, 2014, 47 pp.
Author: Jill H. Wilson
this report, author Jill H. Wilson utilizes 2012 American Community Survey data to examine the Limited English Proficient
(LEP) population in the U.S. and the metropolitan areas where they reside. Numbering nearly one in 10 of working-age adults
(19.2 million people between the ages of 16 and 64), LEP individuals earn 25 to 40 percent less than their English-proficient
counterparts. Although LEP individuals tend to live in large metropolitan areas, their numbers are growing faster in
smaller metro areas. The report provides detailed analyses of the LEP population by metro area, including information
on levels of education, poverty rates, median annual earnings, home languages, and occupations. She notes, for example, that
two-thirds of working-age LEP adults are concentrated in just six industries, with accommodations and food services attracting
the highest percentage. Despite the growth in the size of the LEP population, there has been a decline in federal and
state funding of English for Speakers of Other Languages programs. As the LEP population is going to play a significant role
in U.S. economic growth over the next four decades, Wilson suggests closing this gap. One way would be to implement
a more equitable distribution of Workforce Investment Act funding to support English instruction, i.e. counting all LEP individuals
in determining the funding formula for states rather than just the 40 percent without a high school diploma. She also calls
for innovations in instructional approaches, such as worksite classes and online and mobile technology to increase access
to English learning opportunities. (Robert Smith for The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.'s Public
Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible
Migration Policy Institute, September, 2014, 37 pp.
Author: Margie McHugh
Examining the intersection of education policy and immigration policy, this report assesses the educational needs
of important sub-populations of immigrant youth, who will be unable to obtain immigration benefits (under DACA and future
immigration reform) unless they achieve certain educational goals. The three groups of most concern are: immigrants
age 16 or older with low levels of education (often below 8th grade) who never attended school in the U.S.; immigrants
who dropped out of high school for a variety of reasons, e.g. need to work, pregnancy, lack of credit attainment, or some
combination thereof; and high school graduates without post-secondary education, who would fail to qualify for legalization
under the Senate version of immigration reform (and likely under any subsequent version) without two years of college. The
need for educational opportunities for these groups comes at a time when the existing adult education system is under severe
strain, largely caused by state budget cuts. Over a five-year period ending in 2012-2013, adult education enrollment declined
by 612,616, or 27 percent nationally. The report gives examples of "promising practices and emerging models"
designed to serve these young people, including the Plaza Comunitarias Spanish language high school equivalency program
of the Mexican government, drop-out recovery programs operated by school districts, a range of college affordability strategies,
and "bridge programs" to accelerate transitions to post-secondary education. The report also identifies various
system-level improvements, including a marketing campaign targeting DACA-eligible youth, "personalized guidance
and navigation support at the front end of adult education," and breaking down program silos, by for example, training
leaders in the workforce development, adult education, and post-secondary fields to gain expertise on issues of immigration
policy and practice.
English-Speaking Ability of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2012,
U.S. Census Bureau, June, 2014, 14 pp.
Authors: Christine P. Gambino, Yesenia D. Acosta,
& Elizabeth M. Grieco
Using data from the 2012 American Community Survey, this report
examines English use at home and English-speaking ability among the foreign-born population in the U.S. The report also discusses
the relationship between English-speaking ability and place of birth, level of education, and years spent living in the United
States. A number of charts permit comparisons between states and with national averages. As might be expected, the percentage
of the U.S. foreign-born population speaking a language other than English at home increased from 70 percent in 1970 to 85
percent in 2012, with 2012 variations ranging from a high of 91 percent in Texas to a low of 49 percent in Montana.
With regard to English-speaking ability, half the foreign-born in the U.S. aged 5 and older spoke English less than "very
well." The report includes a color-coded map of the states showing states "significantly higher" or "significantly
lower" than the national average on English-speaking ability. The balance of the report analyzes English-speaking ability
by country of origin.
Two Years and Counting: Assessing the Growing Power of DACA,
American Immigration Council, Special Report, June, 2014, 13 pp.
Authors: Robert G. Gonzales &
Angie M. Bautista-Chavez
This research brief presents findings from the National UnDACAmented
Research Project which analyzes the impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program on the lives of young
people who qualified for the program. Based on a national survey of 2,684 DACA-eligible young adults between the ages of 18
and 32, the report found that almost 60 percent of DACA beneficiaries surveyed obtained a new job, and 45 percent increased
their earnings. Economic benefits, however, were greatest for those who attended four-year colleges and who had already
received their bachelor's degree. The survey included a smaller subsample of 244 respondents who, although qualified for the
program, did not apply. People in this group had less schooling, worked longer hours and were more likely to have children
of their own. The primary obstacle for this group (mentioned by 43 percent) was the $465 application fee. The report
mentions that "stopping-out," or leaving school with the intention of returning, remains an important trend among
DACA-eligible college students, largely because of the unavailability of federal financial aid for this population. Indeed,
undocumented youth are three times more likely than similar youth to stop-out. The report concludes with a series of recommendations,
including offering immigration relief to family members of DACA recipients and making DACA recipients eligible for federal
and state tuition assistance programs.
In Their Own Words: A Nationwide Survey of Undocumented Millennials,
University of California San Diego, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, Working Paper 191, May,
2014, 24 pp.
Authors: Tom K. Wong with Carolina Valdivia
This report discusses findings
from a national survey of undocumented young people between the ages of 18 and 35, the vast majority of whom were granted
deferred action under the DACA Program. The survey was commissioned by Unbound Philanthropy and the Own the Dream Research
Institute at United We Dream. Over three-quarters (77 percent) of survey respondents reported annual personal incomes of less
than $25,000. However, a full 70 percent of respondents began their first job or got a new job after receiving deferred action.
The program seems to have strengthened attachment to the country: 64 percent of respondents felt a greater sense of belonging
in the United States after acquiring DACA. However, 66 percent "continue(d) to feel anxious" because they
had undocumented family members or friends who were at risk for deportation. Most applicants for DACA (70 percent) did
not self-file but instead relied on the assistance of legal service providers or attorneys to prepare their applications.
The researchers also queried respondents on their political party affiliation. Although half identified as Democrats, 45 percent
described themselves as Independents or "Other." Finally, several measures indicated that the degree of political
and civic activism among the DACA-eligible population was quite high.
Invitation to a Roundtable: A Discussion of Return on Investment in Adult Education,
Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL), March 17, 2014, 23 pp. + appendices
James Parker & Gail Spangenberg
This publication summarizes an invitational CAAL Roundtable
attended by 26 national and state leaders that was convened to provide perspectives on the challenge of producing Return on
Investment (ROI) in adult education. Held in New York City on November 8, 2013, the Roundtable built on an earlier CAAL
report entitled Stepping up to ROI in Adult Education (September, 2013). This earlier report discussed the results
of a national survey of state ABE directors designed to explore state experiences in collecting and using ROI data.
Both the Roundtable and the earlier report were funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
The Roundtable devoted attention to three issues in particular: progress in developing ROI measures in six leadership states
(AR, CA, IN, KY, MN, and VA); the challenge of developing ROI data for "special needs subgroups," i.e. immigrants,
correctional populations, and the working poor; and how data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies
(PIAAC) might be used to create "the common taxonomy necessary for messaging and communicating ROI..." The
Roundtable concluded with several ideas to supplement the recommendations in the "Stepping Up" report, including
the development of "coherent, integrated, and accessible" state databases which should be able to "track students
from one program type to another and to enable significant wage record matches."
Adult Education and Immigrant Integration: Networks for Integrating New Americans (NINA)
World Education, September 30, 2013, 49 pp
Lead Authors: Silja Kallenbach, Kien S. Lee, Susan
Madeleine Beaubien Taylor
Contributing Authors: Jennifer Brennan and Andy Nash
by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult education, the NINA Initiative will provide intensive technical
assistance to immigrant integration projects in five U.S. communities. The purpose of this report is to outline the theoretical
framework that will guide World Education and its partner organization in selecting sites to participate in the project. NINA
will be guided by a theory of change premised on the importance of collaboration and "alignment" across an array
of organizations, including adult education providers, workforce development programs, public school systems, social service
providers, refugee resettlement agencies, immigrant rights organization, employers, unions, government agencies, and immigrant
mutual assistance associations. According to the authors, as these organizations "align their goals, core competencies,
resources, strategies, and data collection around a common immigrant integration agenda, they will achieve greater impact
related to the three dimensions of integration: linguistic, economic, and civic." The report draws insights from "contemporary
network science," which posits the importance of trust-building, complementary capacities among participating organizations,
a shared measurement system, and a "backbone support organization" with the capacity to coordinate the various elements
of the project. The report also provides details about integration strategies that have proven effective both historically
and in recent years.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the One-Year Mark,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), August, 2013, 16 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova,
Sarah Hooker, & Randy Capps
On the one-year anniversary of the DACA program, MPI profiles the young people
who have applied for the program and discusses the barriers faced by those who have not. Application rates show wide variation
by state. While 49 percent of the currently eligible population has applied for DACA nationally, states like North Carolina
(74 percent) and Georgia (63 percent) are higher than the national average, whereas states like New York (34 percent) and
Florida (35 percent) are lower. These variations may have something to do with the nationality background of the eligible
population; Mexicans, who comprise 59 percent of all currently eligible youth, have the highest application rate of 64 percent,
whereas Colombians (application rate of 28 percent), Filipinos (16 percent) and Dominicans (14 percent) have the lowest. The
report also examines the plight of the 423,000 individuals who meet all eligibility requirements except for the educational
requirement, i.e. lacking a high school diploma or its equivalent and not enrolled in school. Many have work and parenting
responsibilities that prevent them from returning to school; 71 percent are in the labor force, as compared to 55 percent
of currently eligible youth. Forty-two percent have not completed any high school grades, and over two-thirds are limited
English proficient (LEP). The report proposes an expansion adult education, literacy, and workforce programs for these
young people so that they will not be trapped in unauthorized status.
Immigration Facts: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),
Brookings, August 14, 2013, 9 pp.
Authors: Audrey Singer & Nicole Prchal Svajlenka
This analysis of DACA applications uses data obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request to the Dept. of Homeland
Security covering the first 465,509 applications submitted between August 15, 2012, and March 22, 2013. Almost three-quarters
of these applicants had lived in the United States for at least ten years, with large numbers arriving during the peak immigration
years of 1998 and 1999. The most common age at arrival was eight; however, almost one-third (31 percent) were five years of
age or younger at arrival. The report gives month-by-month breakdowns of applications. From the peak months of September and
October of 2012, when more than 100,000 applications were received per month, the number of applications has dwindled down
to less than 30,000 per month from April through June of 2013. The overall approval rate through March 22, 2013, was 57 percent
but varies widely by nationality. The report includes a chart showing approval rates for the 21 countries of origin with the
largest number of applicants.
Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology
Plan (NETP) for Adult Education,
American Institutes for Research, May 31, 2013, 36 pp.
the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) of the U.S. Department of Education, this report is described as a "blueprint
for education reform enabled by technology." The report examines how specific components of the congressionally-mandated
National Educational Technology Plan of 2010, developed primarily for the K-12 system, have the potential to transform adult
education. The report discusses promising innovations and makes recommendations in each of five broad areas: engaging
and empowering learners, collecting and analyzing information on student progress, the professional development of teachers,
infrastructure development, and measures to boost the productivity of the entire adult education system while operating within
existing resource constraints. Examples of these measures include new platforms to ensure the "content interoperability"
of online learning modules, and the development of a unified student learning record, showing student achievements and credentials
across multiple learning venues. The report concludes by suggesting that these reforms have "the potential to help the
adult education field address the need for increased infrastructure and capacity to meet the demand of the nearly 40 million
people who are in need of adult basic education but are not served."
Comprehensive Immigration Reform: A Proposal for a Skills Strategy that Supports Economic Growth
National Skills Coalition, June, 2013, 19 pp.
In order to realize
the "tremendous economic potential" of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), the National Skills Coalition (NSC)
puts forth this proposal to help legalized immigrants satisfy the educational and training requirements for permanent residence.
The NSC, a network of 3,200 professionals in business, labor, education and community-based organizations, argues that provisions
in the proposed Senate CIR for skills investment are deficient in both funding and scope to achieve a system whereby immigrants
can proceed to permanent residence and fully function as productive members of society. NSC proposes the incorporation
of three new grant programs into the Senate immigration reform bill. These programs "would dramatically increase the
resources available for skills training...without increasing the cost of the bill." More than $1.5 billion might
be raised through an increase in H-1B visa fees and by reprogramming a portion of the money in the existing Social Security
Earnings Suspense File (ESF), most of which was contributed by undocumented immigrants. NSC also urges that such investments
"use common performance measures that are consistent with workforce development programs" and that these investments
be channeled through the "existing workforce development infrastructure." Their plan addresses the wide range
of immigrants' skill levels and employment goals and urges a role for community-based organizations "as a bridge into
the public workforce system." Finally, NSC urges that the proposed "Office of Citizenship and New Americans,"
which will coordinate the federal government's immigrant integration work, be moved from the Department of Homeland Security
to the Executive Office of the President.
Repairing the Nation's Education System for Adult English Learners,
Lexington Institute, July, 2013, 15 pp.
Authors: Sean Kennedy & John Walters
This report argues that the current system for helping adult immigrants learn English is "broken." As the
population of limited English proficient adults has soared to 23 million, enrollment in federally-funded programs has declined.
Even for the small fraction of immigrants served by these programs, proficiency gains have been low and drop-out rates have
been high. The report points out wide variations among the states in 2009-2010 performance levels. New York, for example,
improved proficiency levels for 53 percent of its enrolled ESL students, while New Jersey reported an "abysmal"
27 percent. The authors lay partial blame for this situation on "traditional government providers," who use a "one-size-fits-all
approach," schedule course times at inconvenient hours, and fail to adapt instruction to the needs of specific
groups of learners, including people who lack literacy in their native languages. In addition, the metrics used to track student
progress, i.e. single level proficiency gains, have limited value in evaluating program worth. By way of contrast, the report
describes and lauds programs operated by community-based organizations, adult charter schools, and employers. Casa de Maryland,
for example, operates a drop-in English program for day laborers unable to find work on a particular day; the PUENTE Learning
Center in Los Angeles uses a Computer-Assisted Language Learning Project, or CALIS, developed by Duke University to enable
students to learn at their own pace; and the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., the nation's
first charter school for adults, combines workforce training with ESL instruction. The report concludes with three overarching
recommendations: first, hold programs accountable for outcomes through data; second, design programs around learner needs
and goals; and third, establish funding models built around success, including adult public charter schools.
College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education,
MPR Associates, Inc., 2013, 150 pp.
Author: Susan Pimentel
under contract to the Office of Vocational and Adult Education of the U.S. Department of Education, this report provides guidance
in adapting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to adult education programs in the U.S. A major goal of the report
is to isolate the content in the areas of English language arts, literacy, and mathematics most relevant to preparing adult
students for success in higher education and training programs. The author believes that there are "non-negotiable knowledge
and skills" that must become the focus of adult education programs in the U.S. However, most adults have limited time
for study and come to programs with "some measure of schooling and a wealth of life experiences, making some CCSS content
unnecessary to include;" programs must be selective in how they incorporate the common core into their work. The project
utilized two independent panels to select the standards with the greatest applicability to the adult student population. Among
the broad themes found in the recommended standards are: complexity (regular practice with complex text): evidence (reading,
writing, and speaking grounded in such texts); and knowledge (building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction). The author
recognizes that there are supports and interventions that must be provided to make the standards relevant for English language
learners and students with learning disabilities, but does not elaborate on what these supports and interventions should be.
Linguistic Marginalities: Becoming American without Learning English
Journal of Transnational American Studies, 2012, 28 pp.
Authors: Miranda E. Wilkerson &
Trained in speech and linguistics, the authors of this study challenge
the common assumption that learning English is crucial to the successful integration of immigrants and their children into
American society. By studying a 19th and early 20th century German-American community in southeastern
Wisconsin, the researchers found that German monolinguals did not live on the margins of society, as might be presumed, but
were "generally integrated...socially, economically, and geographically." German monolinguals held jobs
across the economic spectrum; they lived "right next door" to English monolinguals; they showed enthusiasm for American
patriotic celebrations; and their commitment to education, albeit in German, was as strong, if not stronger, than their English-speaking
neighbors. Although founded by Anglo-Americans, and with a substantial presence of non-Germans, the town of Hustisford in
Dodge County, according to the authors, may have been "typical of many towns in America's heartland..."
The authors conclude "that an ability to speak English has never characterized an American identity nor made a person
a better citizen."
A Golden Opportunity: Strategies to Focus Adult Education on College and Career,
Learning Works, March, 2013, 16 pp.
Authors: Barbara Baran & Julie Strawn
Noting that "there is no state in which basic skills looms larger in importance than California" and that
"most students in basic skills programs make minimal progress," this report focuses on "four levers" that
can be used to reorient adult education programs from "basic literacy" (presumably inclusive of ESL instruction)
and GED preparation to a system "designed to help students prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education connected
to labor market opportunities." The report draws from interviews with senior administrators and educators in seven states
that have attempted to achieve this type of educational reform: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, North
Carolina, and Washington. The four levers are: instituting effective governance structures (the Governor of California
has proposed the reinstatement of dedicated state funding for adult education but shifting administration of this funding
from the Department of Education to the community college system), developing system-wide strategic plans and new funding
guidelines, spurring the development of sustainable and scalable educational initiatives, and using data to make the case
for refocusing adult education on college and careers. The report was prepared by Learning Works, an organization founded
by the Career Ladders Project for California Community Colleges.
Post-traditional Learners and the Transformation of Postsecondary Education:
A Manifesto for College Leaders,
American Council on Education,
January, 2013, 18 pp.
Author: Louis Soares
education is facing a disruption, but the biggest driver of change is getting lost in the hype. That's the message of this
"manifesto for college leaders," written by Louis Soares, a fellow at the Center for American Progress. "There
is indeed a transformation coming in American higher education," writes Soares, "It is not driven by technology
or MOOCs, though these tools abet the change. It will be driven by the rise of post-traditional learners." The author
defines post-traditional learners as the working-age population, between ages 25-64, who lack a college credential but are
seeking to get ahead while balancing jobs with educational and family responsibilities. The report argues that colleges must
rethink their institutional, instructional and business models to improve how they serve the post-traditional learner -- a
reassessment that may require "question(ing) the foundations of the academy." In many settings, the post-traditional
learner has become the norm rather than the exception in the educational market of the 21stcentury. The needs and
circumstances of these learners will likely lead to alternative forms of credentialing and learning and the development of
a "new ecosystem for learning validation outside of the academy." Regrettably, the author writes, many college
leaders "seem more intent on protecting the existing enterprise than solving the nettlesome challenges of education an
ever more diverse and demanding group of learners." (Adapted from a review by Paul Fain of
"Inside Higher Education")
Strengthening State Systems for Adult Learners: An Evaluation of the First Five Years of Shifting
The Joyce Foundation, December, 2012, 39 pp.
Authors: Brandon Roberts & Derek Price
The Joyce Foundation launched the Shifting Gears Project in 2007 with the goal of helping six Midwest states
significantly increase the number of low-skilled adults who enter postsecondary education and obtain occupational credit-based
credentials to succeed in the 21st century economy. Between 2007 and 2011, the Foundation awarded a total
of about $8 million in grants to Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, "with the expectation that
officials in these states would pursue a systems change agenda for making existing education and skills development systems
work better for adult learners. Shifting Gears emphasized the need for aligning policy and priorities across adult basic education,
workforce development, and community and technical college systems to improve transitions to postsecondary education."
This evaluation found that four of the six states (Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) "demonstrated traction
on the ground by implementing innovative strategies to serve low-skilled adults...At the end of 2011, about 4,000 low-skilled
adults were participating in new programs -- a modest number that is expected to grow considerably during the next several
years," as new models are scaled up and adopted by more institutions. The report does not provide a breakdown of enrollees
by race, ethnicity or country of birth. One of the conclusions of the evaluation is that states must "repurpose or reallocate
existing financial resources" in order to maintain and expand these new programs. In addition, "it will be important
for states to conduct rigorous analyses that provide credible findings demonstrating the new ways of serving low-skilled adults
is (sic) superior to the status quo."
Restructuring California's Adult Education System,
Legislative Analyst's Office, December 5, 2012, 28 pp.
The report recommends a comprehensive
restructuring of the adult education system in California with clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities of adult
schools and community colleges. The report finds that adult schools in California (currently numbering around 300) and community
colleges (112 in total) each have comparative advantages in delivering adult education. However, there should be a "clear
and consistent distinction between adult education and collegiate education." The report further recommends that
categorical funding for adult education in local school systems should be restored (In 2009, the legislature allowed school
systems to use funds previously dedicated for adult education for general purposes). Additional recommendations include eliminating
the requirement that instructors at adult schools hold a K-12 teaching credential so that faculty at community colleges can
teach at adult schools, and instituting a "modest enrollment fee" of $25 per course for students in both adult schools
and noncredit community college programs. The report also recommends that the system narrow its focus from 10 to 6 instructional
programs, including ESL and citizenship and workforce preparation.The Legislative Analyst's Office has also produced a video about the report.
Preparing for the new GED Test: What to Consider Before 2014,
The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP),
Fall, 2012, 17 pp.
Author: Carol Clymer
The first part of this policy brief is a primer on the new GED test, scheduled to be introduced in January of
2014. According to the author, the revamped test will have "profound implications" for low-skilled adults seeking
to progress to post-secondary education and employment. (Reviewer's Note: According to a 2010 Pew study, roughly half
of Latino immigrant adults in the U.S. lack a high school diploma). Potential problems include: increased test costs, fewer
test centers, a shift to computerized testing, and more difficult test content aligned with the common core standards. The
author then proceeds to review what states are doing to address these problems, including efforts to devise different pathways
to high school equivalency. Many states already have non-GED high school equivalency diploma programs, including the
National External Diploma Program (NEDP), credit make-up approaches, and diplomas awarded for college credits. The paper urges
WPFP state partners to use the GED test make-over as an opportunity to raise important questions about the capacity of state
systems to help low-skilled adults advance to higher levels of education and employment. In particular, the author urges
policy makers to consider five other non-GED possibilities for high school equivalency: the National External Diploma Program;
competency-based high school equivalency programs developed in Hawaii, Vermont and Wisconsin; new programs under development
in Minnesota and Washington; alternative adult-appropriate exams, such as those being considered by New York and Texas; and
college-credit approaches. It is imperative, the report concludes, that "all students, especially working adults,
have practical and cost-effective options to meet their basic skill and educational needs."
Graduating to College: Three States Helping Adult Education Students
Get a College Education,
The Working Poor Families Project, Policy Brief, Summer, 2012, 16 pp.
This policy brief discusses the obstacles facing low-income adults
seeking to improve their economic circumstances through post-secondary education. It also showcases three states that have
made "creative leaps forward" in developing educational pathways for this population and makes recommendations for
state policy makers interested in helping low-income adults transition to higher education. The three states (Kentucky,
Maine, and Minnesota) were chosen because they have many adult education providers outside the community college system, and
thus must achieve alignment and articulation of different systems, i.e. local education agencies (K-12 school systems), community-based
organizations, and community colleges. Kentucky Adult Education promotes access to postsecondary education by setting statewide
and county-level goals, e.g. number of adults earning GEDs who transition to postsecondary education, and by conducting a
"Go Higher Kentucky" marketing campaign. Maine's "College Transitions" program is a preparatory
course, serving 4.4 percent of the state's total adult education population that builds the skills to enter college within
a 12-18 month period. Finally, Minnesota FastTRAC is a career pathways program for adults who have low skills or limited
English proficiency. Offered in five stages, each "bridge" class combines basic skills instruction with occupationally-specific
post-secondary training. Since 2011, 34 Minnesota FastTRAC programs have been implemented on 20 college campuses. (Lorin Mordecai)
Adult College Completion Tool Kit,
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult
Education (OVAE), 2012, 69 pp.
contains "a wealth of resources and tools" to help undereducated adults transition to postsecondary education.
In producing the Tool Kit, OVAE seeks to advance President Obama's goal for the United States to have the highest proportion
of college graduates in the world by 2020. The primary audience for the Tool Kit are administrators of state literacy programs
and adult education practitioners. The publication outlines effective strategies for college transition and organizes them
into three categories: facilitating access to college, ensuring quality of instruction, and promoting college completion.
Sidebars give examples of effective programs. An appendix contains links to, and descriptions of, more than 50 resources discussed
in the report, many of them developed with OVAE funding. The Tool Kit also includes handouts for four target student populations:
adult basic education students, incarcerated individuals, veterans, and high-skilled immigrants.
Dreaming Big: What Community
Colleges Can Do to Help Undocumented Immigrant Youth Achieve their Potential,
Community College Consortium
for Immigrant Education (CCCIE), September, 2012
report profiles "the exemplary practices of community colleges that are improving the educational prospects of undocumented
students." CCCIE is a national network of 23 community colleges and other organizations that have joined forces to address
the needs of immigrant students. The report details the many challenges faced by undocumented students in accessing and completing
higher education. Despite these challenges, such as lack of eligibility for federation tuition or work study assistance, a
number of community colleges have developed strategies and approaches that are enhancing educational opportunities for these
students. These approaches are grouped into five categories: increase college access, make college more affordable, support
college readiness and success, offer pathways for nontraditional students, and improve college retention and completion. The
report also reviews research findings suggesting a substantial return on investment through enhanced services and supports
for these students. Finally, the publication provides contact information for ten of the colleges whose policies and practices
are highlighted in the report, as well as links to resources that may prove useful to colleges working with this population.
New Americans in Postsecondary Education:
A Profile of Immigrant and Second-Generation American Undergraduates,
National Center for Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education,
July, 2012, 29 pp.
Using data from
a nationwide sample of undergraduate students conducted in 2007-2008, this study focuses on the differences in postsecondary
education enrollment between immigrant and non-immigrant students. Twenty-three percent of undergraduates
in the survey were immigrant and second-generation Americans. Larger percentages of Hispanic and Asian
new Americans (32-38 percent) were in the lowest income group than all undergraduates (25 percent). Hispanic and Asian New
Americans were also more likely to have a parent who did not attend college at 55 percent and 38 percent versus 33 percent
of all undergraduates. In high school, 25 percent of Hispanics took calculus compared to 46 percent of
Asians and 29 percent of all undergraduates. Hispanic immigrants were also more likely to take remedial
courses at 52 percent than Asian immigrants (40 percent) and all undergraduates (35 percent). In terms
of postsecondary enrollments, immigrant Hispanic and Asian students enrolled in community colleges at 51 percent and 54 percent
as opposed to all undergraduates at 44 percent. However, second-generation Asian students enrolled in 4-year
colleges at 55 percent, which was higher than Hispanics (36 percent) and all undergraduates (46 percent). Immigrant
Asians (40 percent) and Hispanics (36 percent) had lower rates of full-time enrollment in school than all undergraduates (47
percent). Finally, the report found that Asians had a greater propensity to major in STEM fields or business
than Hispanics or all undergraduates. (Lorin Mordecai)
In a Time of Scarce Resources: Near Term Priorities in Adult
Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL), July 25, 2012, 41 pp.
with an adult education system needing both "transformative change" and the infusion of new resources
-- as called for in the 2008 report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, CAAL conducted a survey of 24 "highly
regarded adult education leaders" to get their recommendations as to what could be accomplished in the present "environment
of limited resources." These leaders achieved "strong convergence or near-convergence" on four near-term priorities
that would advance the larger agenda of the Commission. One priority would be to move toward a "dominant model"
of managed enrollment and high intensity classes in order to accelerate learning gains. Even if the number of students served
by such an approach would drop due to higher per-student costs, the trade-off between "quality of service" and "quantity
of students" was worth making. Other priorities included: a strong and sustained commitment to teacher training (CAAL
recommends a 15 percent federal set-aside for staff development), greater use of technology both for staff development
and instruction, and reliance on "creative funding" approaches, such as charging modest fees to students to participate
in classes and the establishment of an "independent national training trust fund."
Limited English Proficient Workers and the Workforce Investment Act:
Challenges and Opportunities,
Migration Policy Institute, July 19, 2012, 8 pp.
This policy brief examines the capacity of the U.S. workforce investment system to serve immigrants with limited
English proficiency (LEP) and reviews proposals to improve the effectiveness of the system. According to the report,
there has been a steep decline in the number of LEP immigrants served by Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
Although constituting 37 percent of all low-skilled workers in the U.S., LEP workers represented 2 percent of all adults receiving
training services in PY 2010 -- down from 9.5 percent in PY 2000. Similar declines occurred in Title I programs for youth
and dislocated workers. One reason for these declines may be built-in disincentives to serve the LEP population as a result
of performance standards under Title I emphasizing rapid employment. The brief discusses initiatives pending in Congress
to create greater alignment between Title I and Title II (Title II provides ESL and basic skills instruction). These initiatives
include: consolidation of funding streams, giving greater latitude to the states to manage programs, establishing common performance
measures across both titles, altering the composition of local workforce investment boards, and requiring states to detail
plans for serving LEP populations using co-enrollment strategies. According to the author, in the current debate over reauthorization
of the Workforce Investment Act, immigrants may have the most to gain or lose.
Sinking or Swimming: Findings from a Survey of State Adult Education
Tuition and Financing Policies,
CLASP & the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education, June, 2012, 28 pp.
Forty-four states responded to a survey conducted in February of 2012 "to glean information about important
policies that govern the way adult education is funded." The survey covers the following issues: administering
state agency, levels of state and local supplementation of federal dollars, policies governing distribution of federal and
state dollars to education providers, the availability of special funding to foster post-secondary transitions, state tuition
and fee policies, and state responses to impending changes in the GED. In reporting survey results, the report raises
policy issues in each of these areas deserving consideration by policy makers. The report finds that "the adult education
system faces monumental financial and policy challenges" caused by "declining state support, stagnant federal funding,
and the potential increased cost of taking the GED... At no time in recent history has the importance of adult education been
greater and the funding more threatened." One key finding is that the actual level of nonfederal contributions
appears to be $1.30 for every $1.00 in federal funding, rather than the commonly reported $3.50 for every $1.00. Although
24 states now require or allow modest registration or tuition charges to students, the report concludes that "raising
costs to students should not be a part of the revenue mix" as it will likely drive low-income students out of the
program. The dilemma can be reduced to a single question: "How can the adult education system continue improving
its effectiveness and meet higher expectations for students with fewer resources each year?" (Italics in report)
Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research,
National Research Council of the National Academies, 2012, 488 pp.
comprehensive report is the culmination of a 36-month study funded by the National Institute for Literacy and the U.S. Department
of Education to review and synthesize the available research on how to improve literacy instruction for adults in the U.S.,
including immigrant adult English language learners. The authors observe that "there is a surprising lack of rigorous
research on effective approaches to adult literacy instruction." Hence, the report relies extensively on relevant research
with K-12 and other populations. One chapter of the report discusses "language and literacy development for English language
learners." Although sometimes viewed as "a monolithic category," English language learners, the report points
out, "vary dramatically in what they need to become more literate in English." Another chapter of the report explores
the potential of technology to "amplify effective instructional approaches." Still other chapters are devoted to
learner motivation and persistence, and educating adult learners with disabilities. The final chapter summarizes the main
conclusions of the study and contains several global recommendations, including a systematic program of research addressing
key issues in the field.
Training Futures: A Case Study of a Nonprofit-Community College Partnership,
Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative,
May, 2012, 20 pp.
This study examines Training Futures, a job training
program operated as a partnership between Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) and Northern Virginia Community College
(NOVA). The program prepares low-income, predominately immigrant adults (74 percent of participants are non-native English
speakers) for career and educational advancement. Training Futures uses an "imaginaleducation model" involving
immersion in a simulated business environment. The program also provides an array of support services, including exposure
to 400 inspirational messages called "quotes bombardment." Through collaboration with NOVA, the program is able
to serve as a "stepping stone," with NOVA counselors providing workshops and one-on-one advice to assist participants
in making the transition to college. NOVA also collaborates by attracting a network of stakeholders from the business community
to serve as mentors, create internship opportunities, and provide input on program curriculum. Training Futures uses
a blended funding model to support operations; NOVA and NVFS have a revenue sharing arrangement with 85 percent of program
tuition income going to NVFS. Although NOVA employs NVFS staff as adjunct faculty, their salaries are paid for by NVFS. With
a low attrition rate and high job placement, the collaboration has proven successful: nearly 94 percent of participants complete
the 6 month program and 84 percent of Training Futures' graduates have found jobs. Many participants finish the program with
college credits and 30 percent continue on with coursework at NOVA. Additionally, outcomes have demonstrated higher median
wages for program participants, with an average hourly rate increase of $3.02 per hour for those who were employed at the
time of enrollment. Finally, the program has been successful in helping immigrants acculturate to the U.S. job market as well
as "legitimize" their foreign credentials by providing a program certificate and assisting with the transfer of
credit for previously completed coursework. (Daniel McNulty)
Educational Attainment in the United States: 2009,
United States Census Bureau, February, 2012
This report provides a portrait of educational attainment in the United States, including comparisons
by demographic characteristics such as nativity, race, Hispanic origin, and race; and breakdowns by state. Twelve
levels of educational attainment are reported from "no schooling completed" to "doctorate degree." In
19 of the 50 states (including Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), the proportion of foreign-born adults with a bachelor's
degree was larger than the proportion of native-born adults who had completed colleges. Similarly, rates of high school completion
for the foreign-born in these three states were more than ten percentage points higher than the national average of 67.7 percent.
Center for an Urban Future (CUF), January, 2012, 12 pp.
This follow-up to CUF's 2006 Lost in Translation Report explores
the policy implications of New York State's growing immigrant population and the declining availability of state-funded ESOL
(English Speakers of Other Languages) classes. The report finds that, despite the significant benefits immigrants bring to
the state economy--- in terms of population replenishment, entrepreneurship, and labor--- "New York is not leveraging
their full potential." According to the authors, ESOL classes serve as an essential building block for increasing the
skills and knowledge necessary to employment. Yet capacity has not kept pace with the growing need for instruction. The report
sites two major factors in declining enrollment trends: a decrease in inflation adjusted state-funding for ESOL and
a move towards higher-quality, longer-term education. While improving outcomes for learners, according to the report,
smaller class sizes and extended course length has reduced the capacity of many ESOL programs to serve a majority of those
that seek their assistance. The report also finds fault with the Employment Preparation Education (EPE) funding formula based
on county property values. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations calling for state and local governments to
increase funding and develop collaborative partnerships amongst agencies and service providers. (Dan McNulty)
Up for Grabs: The Gains and Prospects of First- and Second-Generation
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), November, 2011, 54 pp.
Funded by the Gates foundation, this study seeks to determine whether
immigrant-origin youth, defined as young people ages 16 to 26 either born in another country or with parents born in another
country, are "on track to complete post-secondary education and obtain jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage."
Immigrant-origin youth now make up 25 percent of all U.S. young people in this age category (38 percent in New Jersey,
and 37 percent in New York). From 1995 to 2007, the majority of immigrant-origin youth were born in other countries. By
2010, the second generation surpassed the first generation and now numbers 14.1 million compared to 10.3 million immigrant
youth. The study disaggregates data by generation, age at arrival, Hispanic vs non-Hispanic origin, and gender, and
presents a mixed picture of progress. On the one hand, Hispanic second generation women are enrolling in college at
the same rate as third-generation non-Hispanic white women, yet their college completion rates are significantly lower (33
percent compared to 51 percent). One of the more vulnerable groups are Hispanic immigrants in the 16- to 26-year-old age category
who entered the U.S. at age 16 or later. According to the report, two-thirds have poor English skills, many have limited
or interrupted education in their home countries, and more than 70 percent are unauthorized and unlikely to qualify for legalization
under the DREAM Act. Those seeking to improve their educational or work-related skills will have to rely on an underfunded
adult educational system with "limited capacity to integrate English language instruction in the context of work."
MPI will continue its exploration of this subject in the future by examining policies and programs designed to serve different
sub-sets of the immigrant-origin youth population.
Increasing Opportunities for Immigrant Students: Community College
Strategies for Success,
Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE),
November, 2011, 47 pp.
CCCIE is network of 23 community colleges
and other organizations that have joined together to increase educational and workforce opportunities for immigrant students.
This report, written by CCCIE Director Jill Casner-Lotto, seeks to identify the key elements of a comprehensive and systemic
approach to the challenge of educating immigrant students. A growing demographic for community colleges, immigrant students
are often older, nontraditional students juggling jobs and family responsibilities. The report proposes a "framework"
of "11 key factors" predictive of success in this area. These include: executive-level commitment, proactive outreach,
community-wide needs analysis, ESL program redesign, comprehensive assessment, holistic support services, more sophisticated
data collection efforts, faculty professional development, student leadership development, multi-sector partnerships,
and peer-learning efforts. The report describes "promising practices" in each of these areas. The report concludes
with a series of recommendations for action and investment by federal, state, and private funders.
Supporting Skilled Immigrants: A Toolkit for ESL Practitioners,
Global Talent Bridge, World Education Services, 2011, 83 pp.
This publication discusses the dilemma of the 2.7 million foreign-trained
professionals in the U.S., who are unemployed or under-employed, and who are not well served by most adult education and workforce
systems. Through the use of a series of "critical incidents," drawn from real-life stories of such immigrants, the
Toolkit attempts to develop a list of "do's and don'ts" when working with this population. The report emphasizes
the importance of developing effective intake tools and using contextualized instruction in the classroom. The Toolkit concludes
with a chapter profiling four model programs targeting this population: the English Health Train initiative of the California
Welcome Back Center, the Washington State I-BEST Program; the Massachusetts Integrated Career Awareness Curriculum; and the
English for International Professionals program of the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning of Colorado.
Talent is Ready: Promising Practices for Helping Immigrant Professionals
Establish Their American Careers,
IMPRINT, 2011, 30 pp.
on the collective experience of the five nonprofit organizations (active in 11 states) that make up the IMPRINT coalition,
this report addresses the challenge of serving the 2.7 million college-educated immigrants in the U.S. who are unemployed
or under-employed. Describing the impact of this underutilization of talent as "staggering - lost wages, lost productivity,
and a squandering of human capital," the authors sketch the outlines of a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs
of this population. The first section provides guidance on the initial assessment of an immigrant professional, including
the credential evaluation process and the usefulness of an empowerment model in relating to program participants. The second
section discusses three skill-building processes that are vital to career re-integration: learning English, acquiring technical
skills, and refining professional job search skills. The final section discusses opportunities for organizational capacity-building,
including integrating volunteers and engaging employers. As the challenge of serving immigrant professionals is an emerging
one, the five IMPRINT organizations seek to scale up "the patchwork of innovative programs and ideas" that exist
now. They emphasize the importance of data-driven advocacy and envision a role for policy-makers and philanthropy in
the program development process.
Improving Immigrants' Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language
Migration Policy Institute & European
University Institute, June, 2011, 11 pp.
Noting the failure of "umbrella
language courses" to give immigrants "a tangible boost in the labor market," this policy brief outlines a series
of promising approaches from both the American and European contexts to link language instruction with occupational
training and to address the pressures and challenging life circumstances facing immigrants. Among these approaches
are: contextualizing language training for workplace use; combining language and skills training based on the model
pioneered by Washington State's I-BEST program; developing formal partnerships between employers and training providers, including
worksite instruction models; and accommodating the needs of non-traditional students by offering evening and weekend classes,
self-study options through greater use of technology, and child care assistance.
Breaking the Language Barrier:
A Report on English Language Services in Greater Boston,
Commonwealth Corporation, March, 2011, 92 pp
Commissioned by The Boston Foundation, this report utilizes provider surveys, key informant
interviews, site visits to model programs, and a focus group with immigrant adult learners, to produce a detailed portrait
of the adult English language service system in the Boston area. The researchers also analyzed demographic data and
program performance reports to identify capacity issues and service gaps. A number of maps pinpoint the location of
specialized services, such as intensive or weekend classes. The report summarizes areas of system strength and weakness and
concludes with a series of recommendations, including efforts to coordinate services to eliminate duplication and provide
greater differentiation of instruction for students with different learning goals, increased weekend and summer classes, more
intensive learning options (20 hours per week or greater), more classes at advanced SPL levels to permit students to transition
to post-secondary education, and greater use of technology and distance learning particularly for the 45,000 LEP immigrants
in the Greater Boston area with at least a bachelor's degree from their home countries.
Certifying Adult Education Staff and Faculty,
Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL),
January 3, 2011, 88 pp
Commissioned by CAAL for a Roundtable held in June
2010, this paper reviews the range of certification practices and issues in the adult education field, of which ESL education
for adult immigrants is a part. The paper discusses the reasons why certification is an issue, including the "long-standing,
but poorly documented, sense among various interest groups that adult education teachers are not as qualified as teachers
in other parts of the educational system..." The authors describe adult education teacher certification as "piecemeal,
extremely varied from state to state, and generally voluntary rather than required." At present, no state has any kind
of pre-service requirement of course work in adult education, although about two-thirds of the states require a bachelor's
degree and/or K-12 teaching credential before beginning to teach adults. Fifteen states encourage or require teachers
to obtain certification in teaching adults afterthey begin working.
Sound Investments: Building Immigrants' Skills to Fuel Economic Growth,
Economic Mobility Corporation, December, 2010,
This report is based on the proposition that immigrant skill development
is crucial to American economic development and prosperity. Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the report examines
three major approaches to immigrant skill development: returning to school, workplace education, and self-employment.
Within separate chapters devoted to each of these approaches, the author outlines key strategies that appear to be associated
with successful outcomes. Although noting the paucity of immigrant-focused programs offering pathways to family-sustaining
employment, the author profiles a number of programs around the country that appear to be achieving positive results. In doing
this research, the author conducted over 100 interviews, made eight site visits, and did a literature review.
National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 2010,
The Action Plan contains seven goals, each with recommended
strategies, to address the growing challenges most Americans face in understanding health information. Because the challenges
are especially severe among minorities, immigrants, and people from lower socioeconomic groups, Goal 4 urges stakeholders
from diverse fields to "support and expand local efforts to provide adult education, English language instruction, and
culturally and linguistically appropriate health information services in the community." The plan grew out of the 2006
Surgeon General's Workshop on Improving Health Literacy, a series of town hall meetings in 2007 and 2008, and feedback from
stakeholder organizations in 2009.
Meeting the Need? English Language Learners and Immigrant Adult Learners
in the Illinois Adult Education System,
Rob Paral & Associations for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant
and Refugee Rights, 2010, 37 pp.
Funded by the Joyce Foundation and the
Illinois Dept. of Human Services, the report seeks to understand the special educational needs of adult English language learners
(ELLs) in the State of Illinois. More than half of adult ELLs and other immigrant adult learners live in the Chicago suburbs,
compared to only 28% of native-born adult learners. About a third of adult immigrant learners have six or fewer years of formal
education, compared to 10% of the native-born population. The report also notes that English language ability seems to be
correlated with higher household income levels and lower poverty levels. The report urges greater state investment in
immigrant adult education in order to increase workforce productivity and competitiveness. Other recommendations include:
more attention to the educational needs of lower-level immigrant learners, adjustments in funding streams to reflect the growing
concentration of immigrants in the Chicago suburbs, greater integration of the workforce training and adult education systems,
and greater utilization of community-based organizations as educational providers because of their "cultural competency,"
physical presence in immigrant communities, and ability to provide supportive services for learners, such as child care.
Using Oral Language Skills to Build on the Emerging Literacy of Adult
Center for Adult English Acquisition (CAELA), Center
for Applied Linguistics, August, 2010, 8 pp.
Using an estimate
of 750,000 adult immigrants in the U.S. who are not literate in any language, but who may possess oral English proficiency,
the authors of this research brief suggest that instructional techniques should be adapted to capitalize on the oral skills
of these students. One such approach is producing and analyzing learner-generated texts, which "connects instruction
to learners' lives." Another is to "balance meaning-focused and form-focused instruction."
DREAM vs. Reality: An Analysis of Potential DREAM Act Beneficiaries,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2010,
This report analyzes the barriers that would stand in the
way of undocumented youth legalizing under the terms of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
If passed by Congress, the law would theoretically benefit as many as 2.1 million people between the ages of 16 and 34. However,
significant numbers would be unable to meet the educational and/or military service requirements during the 6-year period
of conditional residence. If they fail to meet those requirements, their status would revert to undocumented at the end of
the six-year period. The biggest challenge would be faced by an estimated 490,000 out-of-school youth lacking a high school
diploma or GED. Not only would they have to finish high school or obtain a GED, but they would also have to successfully complete
two years of post-secondary education or military service -- all during the 6-year period. Many people in this situation are
poor, lack proficiency in English, are working or have child care responsibilities. Moreover, under the most recent version
of the DREAM Act, conditional residents would be ineligible for Pell grants to cover the cost of college tuition. However,
adult education programs and community colleges around the country, and particularly in states like New Jersey with large
numbers of undocumented youth, would likely face a surge in demand for instructional services. MPI estimates that New Jersey
has 90,000 potential Dream Act beneficiaries.
Professional Development for Experienced Teachers Working with
Adult English Language Learners,
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA),
Center for Applied Linguistics, May, 2010, 10 pp.
brief attempts to identify the characteristics of the experienced adult English language teacher, as opposed to the novice
teacher or the "experienced non-expert," and notes that professional development for such teachers has generally
been neglected. Reviewing the limited amount of research data on this subject, mostly drawn from K-12 studies, the authors
identify and explain three broad strategies that have proven effective in teacher development: classroom-based action
research; mentoring, coaching, and peer observation; and opportunities for reflection, including study circles. These
strategies may be initiated by practitioners themselves or by a program, district, region or state.
Evidence-Based, Student-Centered Instructional Practices,
Center for Adult English Acquisition (CAELA), Center for Applied Linguistics, April,
2010, 8 pp.
In this brief, CAELA reviews studies testing the efficacy
of student-centered instructional approaches and reports that four specific practices are supported by the research:
promoting interaction among learners in small groups and pairs; using native language in the classroom when practical and
appropriate; connecting instruction with learners' lives; and teaching learning strategies explicitly.
Local Perspectives on WIA Reauthorization,
Policy Brief, Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy,
March 26, 2010, 21 pp.
On February 18, 2010, CAAL convened an all-day,
roundtable meeting of 19 local adult education providers operating model "adult education for work" programs. The
purpose of the convening was to recommend changes to the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to facilitate transitions to work
and post-secondary education. Addressing the perception of adult education "as a failed system with limited learning
gains and low persistence," the participants urged "substantial, systematic, and categorical support" for adult
education for work, revised accountability measures based on "momentum points" in students' lives, greater flexibility
in program design to meet local need, articulation agreements between colleges and local education programs, and recognition
that people with low basic skills are a major portion of the population to be served. This report provides a detailed summary
of the conversation and recommendations.
Adult Student Waiting List Survey, 2009-2010,
National Council of State Directors of Adult Education,
March 24, 2010, 7 pp.
Sent to over 4,000 programs providing adult education
services in the United States, this survey found that some 160,000 potential learns (6,680 in New Jersey) were unable to access
services during the year, doubling from the 80,000 reported in the 2008 survey. The 2009 numbers are compiled only from
the 1,368 programs that returned the survey.
Promoting Learner Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Work:
Developing Academic Readiness Skills from the Beginning,
Policy Brief, Center for
Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA), Center for Applied Linguistics, March, 2010, 13 pp
Designed primarily for ESL teachers, this brief makes the case for the early introduction of "academic
readiness skills" into the adult ESL curriculum in order to facilitate transitions to postsecondary education or vocational
training. Although acknowledging that certain "higher order skills" can't be taught until students reach advanced
ESL levels, the authors give examples of certain skills, such as reading for specific information and organizing information
graphically, that can be taught to beginning English language learners.
Policy Handbook on Adult English Language Learning,
The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), 2009, 86
From 2006 to 20009, AAJC played a major role in
examining the field of adult English language learning (ELL) in the United States. The organization was instrumental in hosting
two national conferences in 2006 and 2008 bringing policy makers and practitioners together to develop recommendations for
advancement of the field. This Handbook contains a collection of resources developed during this process, including
summaries of the two conferences; a messaging guide designed for use in advocating for new resources for adult English language
instruction based on findings from seven focus groups and a survey of 1,500 registered voters; a study of ELL programs
around the country, including their student profiles, funding characteristics, educational goals, major challenges, and "priorities
for assistance;" and a collection of data supporting the need for investment in the immigrant adult education field.
The Power of Technology to Transform Adult Learning,
Council for Advancement of Adult
Literacy, October 21, 2009, 65 pp.
This report calls for "wholesale change" in the nation's adult
education and workforce skills training effort "by deploying technology on an unprecedented scale." Such change
will open up doors of opportunity for millions of adults, including English language learners, un-served by the existing system.
The author, Mary L. McCain, an Affiliate Fellow at the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, provides a summary
of existing research on the uses and impact of technology in adult education. She asserts that "many assumptions about
the reluctance of adults to use technology in independent learning are misinformed." She also questions an approach
that simply "attaches" technology to the existing delivery system. A major recommendation is the development of
a National Web Portal, available to both learners and professional educators.
Literacy Matters: Helping Newcomers Unlock
Bank Financial Group, 2009, 16 pp.
This Canadian report cites evidence that poor language and literacy
skills not only account for some of the labor market challenges facing recent immigrants but also negatively impact Canada’s
economy and society. The report discusses the "puzzle" of rising education levels among immigrants (over half of
immigrants to Canada between 2001 and 2006 had a university degree) and high levels of unemployment and underemployment, particularly
since 1996. The authors conclude that weak communication skills in Canada's two official languages probably "contribute
between one-third to two-thirds of earnings gap" between immigrants and native-born Canadians. The report also contains
an analysis of publicly-funded, language training programs in Canada.
This study surveys the landscape of adult English language instruction
in the United States and urges greater collaboration and information-sharing among the three federal agencies most heavily
involved in the delivery of English language services to the adult immigrant population: Education, HHS, and Labor.
The authors note that only the federal Department of Education tracks performance data specific to English language learners
through its Adult Education State Grant Program, making it difficult to assess the effectiveness of a "multifaceted" federal
effort. The report also examines the extent of coordination among providers on the state and local level, and mentions
numerous promising practices. Twelve states, including New Jersey, were selected for in-depth study, on the basis of the size
or rate of growth of their LEP populations. The GAO concludes by recommending regular meetings among federal agencies to develop
joint initiatives, the development of time frames for the accomplishment of interdepartmental objectives, and a coordinated
approach to research on effective educational practices in the field.
Expanding Horizons: Pacesetters
in Adult Education for Work,
Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy, June 26, 2009, 27 pp
The author of this report calls for a "radical transformation"
of adult education in the U.S. to create career and job pathways. The report summarizes the findings of a Roundtable of adult
education for work practitioners convened by the Council on April 6-7, 2009. The report discusses the range of obstacles to
reform, including the challenge of building collaborations across institutional lines, creating new longitudinal measures
for tracking student outcomes, accessing reliable data on current and future workforce hiring trends, and the greater costs
associated with this type of instruction. While not dismissing the importance of "traditional" forms of adult education,
such as ESL, citizenship, and family literacy programs, the report argues that adult education for work should become "the
predominant growth sector of adult education."
Taking Limited English Proficient
Adults into Account in the Federal Adult Education Funding Formula,
Migration Policy Institute, June, 2009, 11 pp.
Title II of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 is the primary
federal funding source for both general adult literacy education and adult English language instruction in the United States.
As Congress considers reauthorization of WIA, this report suggests that the time is ripe to "revisit" the current
state funding formula. The current formula is based on the number of individuals in each state lacking a high school diploma.
As such, the formula omits from consideration the 11.2 million limited English proficient adults in the United States with
high school diplomas, who although eligible to participate in WIA-funded programs, are not counted in the formula. It also
fails to consider the greater costs associated with educating immigrants, who may need both literacy and English language
training. The report notes the adverse impact of the formula on northeastern states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New
York, where there are more immigrants with high school diplomas than elsewhere in the United States.
The Importance of Social Interaction and Support for
Women Learners: Evidence from Family Literacy Programs,
#2, Goodling Institute for Research on Family Literacy, Pennsylvania State University, May, 2008, 5 pp.
Based in part on interviews and focus groups conducted with immigrant
learners, this research brief emphasizes the "psychosocial" value of center-based programs for women in poverty.
According to the authors, classroom-based "relationships are crucial to physical, mental, social, and economic well-being,
yet they are often considered less important than instrumental outcomes such as increasing children’s school readiness
or obtaining employment."
Empty Promises: The Unmet
Need for ESL Instruction across Illinois,
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee
Rights, May, 2009, 42 pp.
This report urges an enhanced role for community-based organizations (CBOs) in the
delivery of ESL education in Illinois and questions the soundness of a 2001 decision to transfer responsibility for adult
education from the Illinois State Board of Education to the Illinois Community College Board. The report laments plunging
class enrollments at a time of growing need for language instruction and spotlights the innovative educational work of several
CBOs in the greater Chicago area. Finally, the report calls for true partnerships between community colleges and CBOs to improve
educational outcomes for low-level ESL learners.
This brief offers pointers for
supervisors overseeing adult ESL programs, many of which use part-time or volunteer teachers. In 2006, only 15%
of adult ESL teachers in the United States were full-time teachers. 49% were part-time, and 35% were volunteers. At the same
time, some supervisors lack sufficient formal training in adult ESL language instruction. The brief describes a "collaborative
approach" to supervision, as well as professional development approaches, suitable for such situations.
Uses of Technology in the Instruction of Adult
English Language Learners,
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, Center for Applied
Linguistics, February, 2009
This brief explores the potential of new technology to promote language learning and to create new opportunities
for interaction between and among students and instructors. The brief reviews research on onsite, blended, and online approaches
and summarizes key issues that should be considered when using technology to support instruction for English language learners.
Expanding ESL, Civics, and Citizenship
Education in Your Community: A Start-Up Guide,
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
handbook is designed for community, faith-based, civic organizations, and employers interested in setting up volunteer-based
programs to help adult immigrants adjust to life in the United States, learn English, and prepare for citizenship. The publication
provides a number of program planning tools, including the outline of a program development plan, as well as tips on classroom
organization and student assessment. The handbook includes sections on strategies for volunteer recruitment, including sample
job descriptions and tutor agreement forms, and approaches to marketing the program to prospective students.
Public Discourse on Immigration: Media
Content and Opinion Analysis (English-Language Acquisition and Children of Immigrants),
The Opportunity Agenda, 2008, 32 pp.
Based on an analysis of media coverage during the period from October 2007 to April 2008, this study sets
forth the requirements for a more effective media strategy to achieve greater public support for English language programs
for adult immigrants. A separate section analyzes media coverage for the Dream Act
The Vital Role of Community Colleges in the Education
and Integration of Immigrants,
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, 2008, 25 pp.
to community colleges as the "Ellis Island" of higher education, this report outlines numerous ways that foundations
can strenghten the immigrant integration work of community colleges. The report highlights some of the more innovative community
college programs around the country, including multi-institutional projects, such as the "Achieving the Dream" initiative
of the Lumina Foundation, the "Project Shine" initiative of Temple University, and Washington State's I-Best Program.
In addition, projects and strategies at the following individual colleges are profiled: Bunker Hill Community
College (Boston), Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn, NY), LaGuardia Community College (Queens, NY), The College of
Lake County (Suburban Chicago), City College of San Francisco, and Pima Community College (Tucson).
Building Capacity for ESL, Legal Services, and Citizenship:
A Guide for Philanthropic Investments and Partnerships,
with Immigrants and Refugees, 2008, 39 pp.
Arguing that the "time is ripe" for local and regional
foundations to help develop "a strong infrastructure of services" to facilitate the integration of immigrants, the
authors of this guide offer a series of practical suggestions for consideration by the philanthropic community. Topics include:
techniques for community mapping, promising ESL program practices, attributes of successful citizenship assistance programs,
and the advantages of collaborative funding. The guide features sidebars about successful projects around the country.
Reclaiming Voice: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant
Women Learning English,
CERIS - The Ontario Metropolis, Centre, Policy
Matters, November, 2008, 5 pp.
policy brief is drawn from a larger study undertaken by researchers at Ryerson University who sought to understand why significant
numbers of Canadian immigrant women were slow to learn English. The study found that women's language needs were different
from those of men and that a "one-dize-fits-all" approach to language instruction was not effective in reaching
Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for
Independent Online Learning,
National Institute for Literacy, October, 2008, 43 pp.
the paucity of research data, especially about adults engaged in online learning outside the confines of formal programs,
as well as the impediment of the digital divide, the author of this report concludes that "learners at even the
lowest levels of literacy and language proficiency can engage with online learning content." Not only does this
approach facilitate "self-directed learning," but it also holds out the promise of "boosting system capacity"
so that more adults can benefit from current programs. To realize this goal, research must pinpoint the kinds of supports
necessary to facilitate online learning, taking into consideration the advance of mobile technology which may supercede desktop
equipment and broadband connections.
paper reviews available research on the special challenges associated with teaching English to adult immigrants with limited
literacy in native language. Among the issues covered in the paper are: how to define "ESL literacy learners," how
to assess literacy levels, whether acquistion of native language literacy improves outcomes in English, and the training
needs of instructors working with this population. The paper laments the "amorphous nature of the field itself - existing
in the grey area between two fields (ESL and literacy) that tend to operate under different certification, funding and policy
Adult ESL Teacher Credentialing and
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, Center for Applied Linguistics, January, 2008, 8 pp.
Recognizing the importance of developing
a qualified teacher workforce in the field of immigrant adult education, the authors of this report review current state practices
related to teacher credentialing and certification. The report also features a section on the efforts of professional associations
to implement content and teacher standards for adult English language programs.
Professional Development for
Adult ESL Practitioners: Building Capacity,
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, Center for Applied Linguistics, October,
2007, 17 pp.
In an effort to address the dearth of professional development opportunities for adult ESL practitioners,
this research brief reviews the literature on professional development from 1990 to 2007 and identifies eight key components
of successful professional development.
Workplace Instruction and Workforce
Preparation for Adult Immigrants,
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, Center
for Applied Linguistics, September, 2007, 8 pp.
policy brief discusses and evaluates various strategies for helping immigrants succeed in the workplace, including workplace
classes, vocational classes, and community ESL programs.
Research Utilization in the Field of
Adult Learning and Literacy: Lessons Learned by NCSALL About Connecting Practice, Policy, and Research,
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and
Literacy (NCSALL), Harvard Graduate School of Education, August, 2007, 39 pp.
This "swan song" paper was published upon conclusion of NCSALL's 10-year history as a major
national research and dissemination center in the field of adult education funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The
paper is written for policymakers at the national and state level concerned about promoting evidence-based adult education
practice. The paper outlines the "five main lessons" learned by NCSALL in its quest to connect practice, policy,
and research. NCSALL's partners included the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, Portland State University, the Center for
Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee, and World Education.
Adult English Language Instruction
in the United States: Determining Need and Investing Wisely, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy,
Migration Policy Institute, July 2007, 24pp.
The authors of this report argue that learning to speak, read, and write in the English language is "among
the most neglected domestic policy issues in our nation today." Using available census data and a set of assumptions
about demand for classroom instruction, as well as the likelihood of self-study and computer-based alternatives to traditional
classroom instruction, the report estimates that $200 million a year would be necessary to serve the existing legal immigrant
population. Costs would skyrocket in the event of a legalization program for unauthorized workers. Finally, the authors suggest
that these costs could be met through various funding mechanisms, which are spelled out in the report.
A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship
Plan, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, January, 2007, 192
Responding to the challenge of integrating
a record number of immigrants, The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), with support from the Carnegie Corporation
of New York, interviewed hundreds of experts and community representatives from around the country to determine the resources,
activities, and partnerships that would be required to naturalize millions of eligible immigrants. This report summarizes
their findings and recommendations.
Adult Literacy Education in Immigrant Communities: Identifying
Policy and Program Priorities for Helping Newcomers Learn English, Asian American Justice Center, 2007, 38pp.
With support from the Annie E. Casey
Foundation, AAJC convened a panel of stakeholders and experts in immigrant adult education to examine the state of the field
and to put forth recommendations for future action. Among the 10 principal recommendations are the need for "contextualized
ESOL programs that motivate adult English learners" and the need for increased state and local support of ESOL programs,
but with attention to documenting program effectiveness and sharing innovative practices.
Lost in Translation,
Center for an Urban Future, November, 2006, 14 pp.
This report discusses the problem of inadequate resources for adult English-language
instruction in New YorkState.
The ESL Logjam: Waiting Times for Adult ESL Classes and the Impact
on English Learners,
NALEO Education Fund, October, 2006, 58 pp.
Based on a survey of 184 ESL providers in 16 states, this report argues that adult ESL instruction
in the United States is in a state of crisis, with long waiting lists in many sites, overcrowded classes, and insufficient
options for instructions beyond basic level.
The Integration of Immigrants in the
Institute for Work and the Economy, July, 2006, 60
This report summarizes the findings
of a two-year project funded by The Joyce Foundation to identify effective ways to integrate immigrants into the workforce.
Input was received from a national Advisory Committee of 41 individuals, and participants in 7 community forums. The report
is organized according to the 7 major lessons learned by the project, one of which is that "strategies directed explicitly
at immigrants must be components of a broader range of initiatives that support the entire workforce." The report
is noteworthy for its attention to the diverse backgrounds and needs of immigrants, including both lower skilled immigrants
and foreign-trained professionals.
Supporting English Language Acquisition: Opportunities for Foundations
to Strengthen the Social and Economic Well-being of Immigrant Families,
Briefing Paper from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees,
2005, 44 pp.
This paper explores how philanthropy can strengthen immigrant families through
strategic investments in language acquisition programs. It discusses successful strategies and offers examples of promising
programs that have helped immigrants-regardless of their educational background-to increase their employment prospects and
economic stability through improved English and other vocational skills. The report also highlights some of the best practices
from literacy programs designed for immigrant families, where both adults and pre-school children can develop English and
literacy skills. The report concludes with a set of recommendations on how foundations can effectively support English language
acquisition in these areas, including gaps in programming and research where strategic philanthropic investment can make a