ABE to Credentials
A Breaking Through Initiative
As states struggle to compete in a global economy, the presence of a skilled workforce is a key part of the equation. ABE to Credentials meets the challenge head on. The initiative is based on the core belief that postsecondary credentials and education beyond high school are the gateway to family-supporting wages and critical to breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty in America.
ABE to Credentials supports states across the country to ensure that more workers have the skills they need for today’s good jobs. Through innovative adult education that leads to valuable credentials, this four-year multistate initiative seeks to fundamentally:
- Change the way Adult Basic Education (ABE) is structured and delivered at state and institutional levels.
- Ensure that state policies encourage dramatically improved results in terms of the number of individuals who complete credentials of value in the labor market.
- Substantially increase the number of adults who can earn a GED and a credential and enter the workplace with competitive skills.
With bold goals for improving students’ outcomes and gaining state-level policy support, ABE to Credentials will engage at least 40 community colleges across the country to reach over 18,000 adult learners who will attain credentials, earn 12 college-level credits or more, and increase their readiness to succeed in college. ABE to Credentials will enable these students to gain skills they need for employment in career pathways and succeed by addressing policy, systemic, and programmatic barriers.
This initiative will increase credential attainment using evidence-based instructional and organizational models. It builds on the successes of both the Breaking Through initiative and Washington State’s experience implementing and scaling up Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST).
To help lower-skilled learners progress further and faster along career and educational pathways, I-BEST’s accelerated, integrated instructional model pairs ABE and professional-technical instructors in the classroom to advance student gains concurrently in both basic education content and professional-technical skills. Based on data from 2006 and 2007:
- I-BEST students were far more likely to earn college credits and credentials than their counterparts in regular ABE/GED/ESL programs.
- 61 percent of I-BEST ABE/GED students earned 15 college-level credits—a key milestone and predictor of success in college—by the end of the academic year, compared to 32 percent in regular ABE/GED/ESL programs.
- 26 percent earned 30 college-level credits, compared to 11 percent in regular programs.
- I-BEST students were three times more likely to earn college credit and nine times more likely to earn an award than ABE students in other workforce programs.
Why Breaking Through?
Breaking Through, a national initiative launched in 2004, has identified specific barriers to success for ABE students and developed strategies to address those issues. Studies of the colleges involved in the scaling-up phase of the initiative indicate positive results for lower-skilled learners. For example:
- Durham Technical Community College, North Carolina: 66 percent of Breaking Through students moved up to grade 9.0 or higher from 6.0 to 8.9 based on TABE scores, versus 56 percent of a comparison group.
- Lake Michigan College, Michigan: 94 percent of Breaking Through scaling-up students completed the initial program they enrolled in, versus 62 percent of those in a comparison group; 94 percent completed a College Success course with a grade of C or better, versus 21 percent of the comparison group.
- Tacoma Community College, Washington: 31 percent of Breaking Through students earned college-level credits within two quarters, versus 4 percent in the comparison group.
ABE to Credentials targets the 14 states in which a higher education agency governs adult education:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
During the first year of the initiative, up to 10 states will receive nine-month, $200,000 design grants in order to redesign adult education and postsecondary systems and programs by integrating basic skills with occupational training to facilitate credential attainment. These states will then be eligible to compete for implementation grants: up to five states will receive $1.6 million each over three years to implement their plans.
ABE to Credentials partners are the National Council on Workforce Education, National College Transition Network and the Washington State Board of Community & Technical Colleges. The initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with additional funding to be announced.
Materials from the April 15, 2011 meeting in Chicago, IL
- Table of Contents
- Meeting Materials: Participant List, State Coach Assignments, Coaches' Contacts and Bios, and the Draft Concept Paper
- The Theory of Change
- The State and Institutional Policy Framework
- Model Development: I-BEST Pathway Maps and Model slides
- The initiative's Messaging Brief
- Action Planning: The State Process Guide and Action Planning document
For more information, contact:
Barbara Endel at JFF, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617.728.4446