One in six U.S. adults lacks basic literacy and numeracy skills, according to an international survey by the OECD.
We “have a pretty good handle on what works,” writes Mary Alice McCarthy on EdCentral. Integrating literacy and numeracy instruction into job training has proven effective, as shown by Washington’s I-BEST program.
However, federal policy now denies aid to high school dropouts seeking college job training. Until the law changed in 2012, dropouts could qualify for aid if they showed an “ability to benefit” by passing a basic skills assessment or earning six postsecondary academic credits.
This enabled community colleges to offer integrated education and training programs (like the widely-touted I-BEST) to millions of adults who could not afford college and lacked a high school credential, many of them immigrants and/or working adults. Despite evidence from a federally-funded experiment that adults who earned six credits were just as likely to complete their postsecondary program of study as students entering with a high school credential, this option was eliminated for students in 2012.
In addition, key workforce training programs have lost more than $1 billion—more than 30 percent – in federal funding since 2010.