|Resources in the Field of Immigrant Adult Education |
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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
to realize their full potential. These resources cover the topic of immigrant adult education.
Restructuring California's Adult Education System, Lessons from the Local Level: DACA's Implementation and Impact on Education and Training Success,
Migration Policy Institute, January, 2015, 53 pp.
Authors: Sarah Hooker, Margie McHugh & Angelo Mathay
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, 34 pp.
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.
Authors: 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 Areas,
Brookings, September, 2014, 47 pp.
Author: Jill H. Wilson
In 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 Education Institute)
Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible Youth,
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
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
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
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
Authors: 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) Theoretical
World Education, September 30, 2013, 49 pp
Lead Authors: Silja Kallenbach, Kien S. Lee, Susan Downs-Karkos, and
Madeleine Beaubien Taylor
Contributing Authors: Jennifer Brennan and Andy Nash
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, &
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.
Funded by 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 and
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
Produced 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 & Joseph Salmons
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
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
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 21st
century. 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 Gears,
The Joyce Foundation, December, 2012, 39 pp.
Authors: Brandon Roberts & Derek Price
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."
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
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
Adult College Completion Tool Kit,
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education
(OVAE), 2012, 69 pp.
This publication 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
This 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
In a Time of Scarce Resources: Near Term Priorities in Adult Education,
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
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,
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 Young Adults,
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
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
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 Instruction,
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,
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, 73 pp.
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
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 English Learners,
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, 23 pp.
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
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA), Center for Applied
Linguistics, May, 2010, 10 pp.
This research 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
Adult Student Waiting List Survey, 2009-2010,
National Council of State Directors of Adult Education, March 24, 2010,
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
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 pp.
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 Their Potential,
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
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,
Research Brief #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
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
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 (USCIS),
This 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
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
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
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 Certification,
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:
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
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 Workplace,
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
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 critical difference.
News and Opinion
CAL State Fullerton opens center for undocumented students
Orange County Register, April 25, 2014
ESL for business class sees first grads
Jamaica Plain Gazette (MA), March 14, 2014
Testing companies see cash cow in revamped GED
Politico, December 30, 2013
New York City to help immigrants seeking deferred action status
The New York Times, July 17, 2013
Education is missing key for some young immigrants (seeking to qualify for deferred action)
Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2013
Cultural blind-spots make "pathway to citizenship" a steep climb
Urban Institute, MetroTrends Blog, March 20, 2013
As federal immigration overhaul looms, California schools slash adult English classes,
Stateline (The Daily News Service of The Pew Center on the States), December 19, 2012
Dollar General Invests in the American Dream,
American Libraries Magazine, August 18, 2010
Mexico will Offer Online-Degree Programs to Citizens Living Abroad,
The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 9, 2010
Program recruits parent volunteers to teach English to other parents with children in the same school,
Daily Camera (Boulder, CO), November 28, 2009
Adult education research in UK casts doubt on value of workplace literacy programs,
TES Connect, November 27, 2009
New Bedford's Immigrant Workers Targeted for English Classes,
South Coast Today, August 25, 2009
One Workforce - Many Languages,
Society for Human Resource Management Magazine, January 1, 2009
Making Change: Civics as a Second Language,
City Limits Magazine, July/August 2003