Millions of Americans never make it from adult ed to a GED to a college job training program, a workforce credential and a decent job. Jobs for the Future is launching ABE to Credentials, which will help 11 states streamline adult basic education (ABE) and create career pathways for low-skilled adults. The Gates Foundation is funding ABE to Credentials, which is part of the Breaking Through initiative, reports Community College Times.
Some 35 to 50 million adults score below the eighth-grade level on reading and math tests, according to JFF. Some are high school drop-outs, but others have earned a high school diploma or a GED without mastering the academic skills needed to train for a skilled job.
Louisiana, which recently shifted ABE from K-12 to the community college system, will participate. The state ranks last in the nation in literacy and nearly 20 percent of adults lack a high school diploma. To stress adult ed’s goal, Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) now calls it WorkReady U. GED recipients often aren’t prepared for the workforce or college training, says Joe May, LCTCS president. WorkReady U will look for ways to include work-ready measures in GED classes and create pathways to employment.
Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind program is sending displaced workers to community colleges. At Macomb Community College (MCC), most trainees don’t have the academic skills to take college-level courses.
Part of the strategy of MCC and other community colleges in the state is to work more closely with K-12, which operates ABE in Michigan, said MCC President Jim Jacobs. Some adult educators are concerned about community college encroaching on their turf, but the same “philosophy of partnership” used to create dual-enrollment programs between high schools and community colleges could be used for adult education, he said.
“This is not a new mission for us. This is our mission,” Jacobs noted.
Funding is a concern, said college leaders at the American Association of Community Colleges convention in New Orleans. Bringing ABE to community college campuses will lower completion rates at a time some states are tying a portion of funding to “success” rates.
In addition, some states won’t fund ABE for adults who’ve completed a GED or high school diploma, even if they lack basic academic skills.