[AAACE-NLA] Whos Accountable? Employment Not a Major Goal in the AELS
tsticht at znet.com
Sun May 30 21:59:19 EDT 2004
Research Note 28 May 2004
Most Adult Learners Do Not Have Employment as a Goal in the Adult
Education and Literacy System (AELS) of the United States
International Consultant in Adult Education
The Workforce Investment Act, Title 2: Adult Education and Family Literacy
Act (WIA/AEFLA) was enacted by the U. S. Congress in 1998. To define and
implement the accountability requirements of the WIA/AEFLA the U. S.
Department of Education established the National Reporting System (NRS).
This system collects data about accountability indicators from the states,
consolidates it, and reports it in an annual report to Congress. The most
recent report is: "U. S. Department of Education (2003). The Adult
Education and Family Literacy Act: Program Year 2001-2002: Report to
Congress on State Performance. Office of Vocational and Adult Education."
According to the report, "The NRS defined five core measures that meet
AEFLA requirements: Educational Gain, High School Completion, Entered
Postsecondary Education or Training, Entered Employment, and Retained
Employment" (p. ii) Elsewhere I have commented on the reports
presentation of information about High School Completion
this note attention is on the Entered Employment and Retained Employment
indicators of program outcomes.
According to the report, in PY01-02, 158,760 adults whose goals were
employment when they entered the program were actually employed one
quarter year after they left the program. Also, 178,902 adults had
retained their employment three quarters after leaving the program. This
included those who were employed upon entry into the program and had job
retention as a goal and those who had gotten a job one quarter after
leaving the program and still retained the job three quarters after they
left the AELS program.
To place these data in some perspective, I have tabulated similar, though
not precisely comparable, data that the U. S. Department of Education has
collected since 1994:
Year Gained Retained/Advanced
Employment in Employment
1994 110533 100951
1995 155715 113797
1996 157605 149377
1997 157890 182316
1998 164341 130414
1999 214536 194526
2000 203564 250754
2001 137649* 232723**
2002 158760* 178902**
*were employed one quarter after program exit
**retained employment 3 quarters after leaving program
Though the definitions for Gained Employment and Retained/Advanced in
Employment differ somewhat across the nine year period, the major point is
that data regarding these types of work-related accountability outcomes
have been collected for some time both prior to and following the passage
of the WIA/AEFLA and the implementation of the NRS. At no time have they
amounted to a very large share of the 2.5 to 4 million adults enrolled in
the Adult Education and Literacy System (AELS) of the United States, i.e.,
the programs funded in part by the State Grants of the WIA/AEFLA. In
fact, in the PY01-02 report it is noted that the 158,760 students who
achieved employment was 42 percent of those with employment as a goal.
That suggests that only some 378,000, or 13.5 percent of the 2.7 million
students in that year had employment as a goal.
Regarding Retention in employment, the PY01-02 report presents data for
those with a) a job retention goal at the time of enrollment and b) those
adults with an employment goal who obtained work by the end of the first
quarter after leaving the program who were employed at the end of third
quarter after exiting. The data show that 63 percent (178902 is 63
percent of 283971) were retained in work three quarters after leaving the
program. This exceeded the federal goal of 60 percent retention in
The foregoing suggests that, even though many adults who enroll in the
education programs of the AELS do achieve work-related benefits, the AELS
is not, primarily, a workforce development program. Rather it is an adult
education system that gives adults across a wide range of ages access to
education that they want for many different reasons: health, spirituality,
recreation, general information, child care, work, etc.
Of course, the fact that the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act
(AEFLA) is included as Title 2 within the Workforce Investment Act
indicates that perhaps both in the U. S. Department of Education and the
Congress it is believed that workforce development is, or perhaps ought to
be, the major activity of the AELS. This may explain why two of the "five
core measures" collected as accountability indicators for the AELS are
related to employment.
In another paper (http://www.nald.ca/fulltext/sticht/power/cover.htm) I
have argued that an informational activity needs to be undertaken to let
those in positions to determine what the AELS should be held accountable
for to understand the many educational activities and outcomes that the
AELS produces. In this regard, I have suggested that the Workforce
Investment Act (WIA) should be renamed the Adult Education, Literacy, and
Workforce Investment Act (AELWIA) to recognize the fact that while the
AELS does produce returns to investment in terms of workforce development,
it goes well beyond that and produces many other returns to investment in
adult education and literacy as indicated above (health, parenting, etc.).
In particular, I have argued that one of the best investments we can make
for the education of children, is an investment in the education of
adults. Presently, the "five core indicators" of accountability that are
reported in the NRS do not reflect this very important outcome.
Thomas G. Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education
2062 Valley View Blvd.
El Cajon, CA 92019-2059
Tel/fax: (619) 444-9133
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