Full Board


Jean C. Stevens


Update on Redesign of New York’s Adult Education System


October 11, 2006


Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Information


          Department staff have been working on redesigning the adult education system with a focus on accountability, regional collaboration, expanding access to special populations, new approaches to service delivery, and staff development.  These changes better serve students and justify expanded federal and State investment.  The attached report provides highlights to provide the Regents with an update on the effort.


Reason(s) for Consideration

          For information.


Proposed Handling


The attached report is submitted to the Full Board for information.


Procedural History




Background Information


New York’s adult education system is a critical resource for the success of key Regents priorities such as closing the achievement gap; raising the high school graduation rate; connecting parents of English language learners with programs that raise their English language proficiency; creating a P-16 education strategy; and preparing all New Yorkers for citizenship, work, and continued learning.  Adult education programs target out-of-school youth and adults with limited literacy and/or English language proficiency and prepare students for the GED tests.  Adult education enables hard-working adult New Yorkers to obtain the knowledge, skill, and credentials to compete in a global economy.


Adult education programs, along with vocational rehabilitation, higher education and the professions, and cultural education institutions, play a central role in achieving Regents Aim 6 of the University of the State of New York:  “People of all ages who seek more knowledge and skill will have the fullest opportunity to continue their education.” 


Attachment 1 is a summary of actions that align New York’s adult education system with Regents priorities and meet emerging challenges.   Attachment 2 summarizes implementation milestones. 




          Staff recommend that the Regents review the attached material to determine whether additional information is needed and/or whether a discussion of this issue should be scheduled for a future Committee meeting.


Timetable for Implementation


          Not applicable.






Attachment 1




I.            The Challenges Facing Adult Education In New York


In the twentieth century, the baby boom generation was so large that only a select number of high school students needed to be “college bound” for New York to meet its high-skill workforce needs.  Individuals with limited education and skill could find employment that paid a living wage.  This is no longer the case. 


Global competition, fueled by an information and technology revolution, is reworking, at an alarming speed, the specifications for high wage work.  Other nations compete by offering lower wages and high quality.  Demographic transformation is unfolding in tandem.  As a result, New York must take urgent and comprehensive steps to ensure that all New Yorkers have the skills and knowledge for work, citizenship, and continued learning.  Success in this new environment requires raising the knowledge, skill and credentials of people of all ages and doing it better than competing regions and countries.  Here are the challenges facing New York out-of-school youth and adults.



Demand far outstrips the 143 million in federal and State resources.  Last year, only two percent of the need for adult literacy or English for Speakers of Other Language instruction was met.  About 157,000 adults were enrolled in programs at over 200 SED-funded agencies.  Demand is so high in New York City that programs use lotteries instead of waiting lists to ration access to instruction, especially for English for Speakers of Other Languages.



II.          Adult Education Responds


The Department’s Office of Adult Education and Workforce Development (AEWD) has been redesigning New York’s adult education system with a focus on accountability, regional collaboration, expanding access to special populations, new approaches to service delivery, and staff development.  These changes better serve students and justify expanded federal and State investment.  The highlights are below. 


A.         A Data-driven Accountability System Focused on High Performance.

        The Board of Regents has long supported data-driven accountability to raise performance for all programs that serve students In New York State.  Over the last three years, SED created an individual student data base called Adult Literacy Information and Evaluation System (ALIES) that is tied directly to program performance targets for student educational gain (adult basic education and English Language acquisition) and student outcomes (GED attainment, entered and retained employment, and postsecondary transition).  All programs are required to participate.  Core targets are driven by federal mandates from Title II of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), but SED also is developing specific State requirements as well.  The ALIES data system enables AEWD to evaluate data to not only improve performance but, in 2007, to track and support regional collaboration among adult education programs and partners to better meet student goals.


                 i.          Performance as a factor in awarding federal funds. 

·       Performance-based funding. For the first time, approximately $35 million in federal WIA Title II funds was competitively awarded to school districts, BOCES, postsecondary institutions, libraries, literacy volunteers and community organizations, using program performance as a significant rating criterion in multi-year awards starting July 1, 2006.

·       Incentive grants.  In 2007, up to $1 million in incentive grants will be awarded to programs that meet or exceed State targets for postsecondary transition and employment outcomes.


ii.        Program report cards.

·       Performance report cards. In fall 2006, program report cards will be sent to each adult education program assigning educational performance for educational gain and student outcomes to one of four quartiles. 


iii.      Intensive technical assistance to raise performance.

·       Pilot ITAPS. In 2005, 21 adult education programs serving the largest number of students and receiving the most funding were identified for intensive technical assistance through a risk management process. Intensive Technical Assistance Plans (ITAPS) were developed for each program, identifying performance data of concern, specific objectives for improvement, and milestones.  The ITAPS identify change strategies and summarize ongoing technical assistance from SED and the Regional Adult Education Network (RAEN) through a web-based tracking system.

o      All 21 programs, including the Big Five City school districts, received comprehensive program visits from AEWD and RAEN staff.  Each visit included extensive data mining to verify progress in data management and performance strategies. 

o      Reports that specified data of concern, strengths, and areas for improvement were created overnight. 

o      Strategies for addressing needs were refined, technical assistance scheduled, and return dates to verify progress through a data verification process took place.

o      Programs that achieved the objectives were replaced with new ITAP programs based on program size and data concerns. 

·       New ITAPS and dissemination of effective practice. Programs funded in 2006 are being selected for the ITAP process.  ITAP programs will be brought together as a learning community to identify and raise program performance.  Effective practice will be broadly disseminated to all adult education programs through RAEN networks, technical assistance workshops, summary of lessons learned on the AEWD web site, and conferences.  The ITAP process will be aligned with a more formal corrective action process that is being developed to raise performance of the programs in the lowest quartile as identified in the report card process.

·       Peer mentoring and technical assistance. Over the next two years, peer mentoring and technical assistance will be developed to enable high performing programs to mentor programs struggling with specific data and performance issues.


iv.      Document and support high quality data systems.

·       Shift from improvements to high quality data systems. Beginning with the Big Five City School District Adult Education Summit, which is on November 1-2, 2006, the focus for accountability will be shifted from piecemeal data improvement to creating comprehensive data systems with proven elements that support high performance and accurate reporting.  This involves significant program restructuring in ways that involve all program staff in the data process and using data throughout the entire adult education program to better serve students.  Data mining drills down to the individual classroom level.  


v.       Data manager requirements for large programs.

·       Ensure strong data expertise.  Beginning July 1, 2007 with the approval process for $96 million in Employment Preparation Education State aid, the largest funded programs will be required to hire a full-time data manager with strong credentials for managing a high quality data system.


vi.      Fund a web-based individual student data system (ASISTS).

·       Move to the Web. WIA Title II funds will be competitively bid to establish a web-based student data system.  This web-based system will dramatically raise the ability of AEWD, the RAEN, and programs to track student progress, map student pathways, and pilot verifiable metrics that document collaboration.  It will enable identification of performance by classroom and enable teachers, counselors, and managers to focus on achieving high performance program-wide.


vii.     Streamline GED Testing.

·       Professionalize GED testing. Nearly 60,000 out-of-school youth and adults take the GED test annually.  New York State’s 56% pass rate is the 4th lowest among 50 states, with wait times of up to six months to take the exam.  Local GED examiners hired by SED often wait 2 to 4 months before being paid, and their pay scale is not competitive.  This fall, $800,000 in State funding for GED testing will be competitively bid to select 16 high performing GED test centers to correct these deficiencies and professionalize GED testing.

·       Screen test-takers. Over 34,000 test-takers indicate that they have not attended a GED preparation program. In 2007, preference to GED test slots will be given to students who take and pass the official GED Practice Test that screens for success.  Referral to funded GED preparation programs will be provided to students who are unable to pass this predictor.

·       Improve performance. Program monitoring will systemically include GED test sites. ITAPS of the test sites will be developed to target and raise performance.


viii.    Transition to BEST Plus Test for English language students

·       Train all programs in the BEST Plus Test and adopt new requirements to address literacy.  By July 1, 2006, all programs were trained in the new English language proficiency assessment.  By July 1, 2007, all programs will have in place strategies to raise both the oral proficiency and the literacy skills of English language students.


B.         Structure and Support Systemic Collaboration in Seven Regions of the State.

·       Create formal networks. Every adult education provider funded by SED with federal and State categorical funding or State Aid will be required to participate actively in one of seven formal RAEN networks.  Networks are being designed to support high performance and strong regional collaboration among adult education programs and with partners, including One-stop Career Centers; postsecondary institutions and other USNY providers; and SED-funded technical assistance networks. 

·       Address uniform priorities. In 2006, all seven RAEN networks will aggressively address four priorities:  raising student performance, postsecondary transition, ensuring students with employment goals enter and retain employment, and raising high school graduation rates by connecting parents of school-age children with adult education programs.

·       Develop collaboration metrics. By 2007, accurate and verifiable metrics for documenting, recognizing, and funding programs with strong collaboration with other adult education programs and partners will be developed. 


C.         Pilot Literacy Zones with Family Welcome Centers.

·       Design Literacy Zones. RAEN Networks will pilot Literacy Zones in selected urban areas with high concentrations of poverty or limited English language proficiency over the next two years.  Literacy Zones are highly focused efforts to raise literacy and English language proficiency in a targeted geographic area.  A full range of literacy programs, including English language civics, family literacy, workplace literacy, distance learning, and health literacy, will be provided and connected to:

o      Workforce and economic development initiatives, including One-stop Career Centers, efforts to support safe neighborhoods and expand access to residents of public housing.

o      Postsecondary education and opportunities to enter the professions.

o      Vocational rehabilitation programs.

o      Libraries, public broadcasting and other cultural resources.

o      Health and wellness resources to raise the health literacy of families.

o      Efforts to transform low-performing schools.

o      Efforts to raise parent engagement, including leadership training to help parents become effective leaders in their schools. 

A Family Welcome Center connects parents and community members with pathways and resources. 

·       Pilot and expand. Prototypes are just being selected and designed for implementation in 2007.  These include: the South Bronx, Chinatown, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Long Island City in New York City; Westbury, Long Island; the Rochester Children’s Zone; and in Buffalo as a support of an overall Buffalo Reads Citywide Literacy Campaign.  


D.         Expand Access and Better Serve Special Populations.

·       Expand distance learning. Distance learning offers the opportunity to expand access to needed instruction especially for learners who read or speak English at moderate to high levels.  A number of effective programs have been developed.  By July 1, 2007, a data-driven review and approval process that identifies the most effective distance learning programs will be in place.  RAEN Networks will incorporate distance learning into overall instructional opportunities for students.

·       Set learning disability policy. By July 1, 2007, all funded adult education programs will comply with federal requirements, and effective strategies for raising program quality and incorporating best practice will be in place.

·       Fund on-site instruction at One-stop Career Centers and Pilot Work Readiness.  In 2006, $2 million in federal adult education funds were used to support adult education instruction directly in One-stop Career Centers across the State.  In 2007, adult education programs will pilot work readiness credentials in programs that prepare adult education students for entry level jobs in the professions, retail services, and growing economic sectors.


E.         Professionalize the Field and Prepare the Next Generation of Administrators and Teachers.

·       Expand New York’s professional development system. There are 17,254 teachers in New York’s adult education system; 25% are part-time.  Teachers come to adult education from a wide variety of backgrounds, with diverse credentials and training.  Many in the current workforce are near retirement age, creating an urgent need to recruit and train new teachers.  In 2006, federal funding was targeted to create a statewide professional development system, including training for new teachers, workshops to strengthen numeracy teaching as part of GED preparation, and core training for all teachers that ties adult education curricula to the Regents learning standards.

·       Pilot a national adult education administrator’s certificate with 25 next generation leaders in New York State. New York State was selected with Arizona and Maryland to pilot a national adult education administrator’s credential.  To support succession planning, 25 administrators were selected to undergo the extensive three-year training as part of a National Leadership Excellence Academy. 


F.  Support and recognize work readiness skills for adults.


·       Support the development of a national credential through the New York State Workforce Investment Board.  The NYS Workforce Investment Board has joined other key states and the national Chamber of Commerce to develop a national work readiness credential.  SED is prepared to pilot and expand the use of this credential to better enable out-of-school youth and adults attain and document skills to employers.  SED will identify effective curricula and strategies for contextualizing work readiness instruction.

Attachment 2


Adult Education Implementation Milestones


July 1, 2006

January 1, 2007

July 1, 2007

A Data-Driven Accountability System


1.      Performance as a factor in awarding funds.



2.      Program report cards.






3.      Intensive Technical Assistance Plans (ITAPS).








4.      High quality data systems.












5.      Data manager requirements.




6.      Web-based individual data system (ASISTS).



7.      Streamline GED testing.




8.      Transition to BEST Plus Test for ELL students







1.      Educational gain used to competitively award $35 million in federal funds.


2.      Report card format is developed. Programs assigned to performance quartiles.



3.      ITAPS are piloted with 21 large programs (3 per region). Monitoring visits are scheduled and technical assistance is provided and tracked on the web.



4.      Effective data elements are identified through ITAP process.  The data systems in Big Five Adult Education programs are charted. Big Five City School District Adult Education Summit is held to restructure data systems.


5.      Data manager specifications are identified.



6.      Design is developed.





7.      Competitive Request for proposals is issued.



8.      All programs are trained with BEST Plus. Policy guidelines require a transition to literacy as well as oral English language proficiency.




1.      Up to $1 million in incentive grants awarded to programs.


2.      Report cards are issued using 2004-05 data. Technical assistance workshops are held statewide.



3.      ITAPS are selected using 2005-06 data.  Monitoring and technical assistance is provided. Best practice is shared widely.  ITAPS expand to GED test sites and Literacy Zones.


4.      ITAPS with Big Five City School Districts track and support data system restructuring. Effective practice and system models are shared widely through RAEN networks, workshops, conferences.




5.      Data manager requirements are part of the 2007-2008 EPE State Aid application.


6.      A 5-year contract is competitively awarded and statewide training held.


7.      60 sites are selected.  ITAPS raise performance and effectiveness. 


8.      Programs pilot ELL literacy tests including the TABE, BEST Literacy, and CASAS.  All programs are trained.






1.       WIA reauthorization links performance and funding.


2.      Report cards are issued using 2005-06 data. Programs needing corrective action are identified.  ITAPs are developed.


3.      The ITAP process is refined. Effective practice for raising performance is widely shared.  Peer mentoring and technical assistance is piloted to expand assistance.


4.      High quality data system planning is incorporated into: ITAP process; RAEN technical assistance; and statewide professional development training.  Funding requirements are aligned.




5.      Data managers are funded as part of State Aid and categorical funding.


6.      ASISTS is fully implemented.




7.      Capacity to screen and test GED applicants is expanded. 


8.      All programs instruct and assess ELL students in both oral proficiency and literacy.

Structure and Support Regional Collaboration

1.      Create 7 RAEN Networks.





2.      Develop collaboration metrics for accountability system and funding incentives.



1.     All seven Networks are formed by November 1, 2006.




2.   A concept paper is discussed with each RAEN Network.  RAEN task groups are developed to provide input to state decision-making.



1.      All Networks address postsecondary transition, employment objectives, and outreach to parents.


2.      Collaboration metrics are built into the web based individual student record system (ASISTS). 



1.      All Networks address distance learning, learning disabilities, and GED screening.



2.      RAEN Networks use data to refine and expand collaboration.   Program divisions of labor and referral are established. Impact data is incorporated throughout:  funding. ITAPS, professional development, and technical assistance incorporate the new metrics.

Pilot Literacy Zones and Family Welcome Centers

·        Concept paper is developed.

·        Design elements are  identified through extensive discussion including: adult education programs in each RAEN Network; BETACS; Regional School Support Centers (RSSCs); the USNY Early Childhood Cabinet; and program offices across SED.

·        Pilot sites are identified in New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Long Island.

·        Pilots are connected to Regents priorities (P-16 and connecting parents of ELL students with adult education programs) and local educational, workforce and economic development initiatives. 

·        Lead agencies and adult education programs map community resources and strengthen collaboration.

·        Designs are refined as a learning community, and promising practice shared; teams visit other Literacy Zones to share expertise and ideas. 

·        SED works with national partners to raise foundation funding for research, coordination support, and partnership building across Literacy Zones.  

·        Additional Literacy Zones are created, as opportunities arise.




·        Literacy Zones are supported on an ongoing basis.

·        Cost and community, family, and educational impacts are documented. 

·        Opportunities to expand funding at State and federal levels are pursued, including the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, partnerships with corporate and private foundations, and leveraging multiple funding streams. 

·        Promising practices are shared with all adult education providers across RAEN Networks and with partners, incorporated into technical assistance, and shape professional development for administrators. 

·        The impact of literacy is made visible to stakeholders and partners through an aggressive information campaign.

Expand Access and Better Serve Special Populations

1.      Expand distance learning







2.      Set learning disability policy










3.      Fund on-site instruction in One-Stop Career Centers




1.    Distance learning is approved for EPE State Aid.  Training for GRASP and other models is held.




2.    Learning disability Summit held.  Cross-agency Learning Disability Task Force formed to set policy.  Learning disability requirements discussed at each RAEN regional workshop.


3.    Up to $2 million in federal funds is allocated to support One-Stop Career Centers and provide instruction on-site or in satellites.





1.     Performance data is used to approve effective distance learning programs.  On-demand and web-based distance learning is piloted.


2.      All adult education programs meet legal minimums for serving students with learning disabilities.







3.      Screening tools and contextualized curricula are piloted and RAEN Network referral networks are set for students seeking employment.




1.      RAEN Networks incorporate distance learning. Distance learning is integrated into all programs.




2.       Effective strategies to serve students with learning disabilities are established and incorporated using universal design principles.  Funding incentives are established.



3.      Best practice is incorporated into SED professional development, RAEN Network priorities, and professional development.  


Professionalize the Field

1.      Expand Statewide Professional Development System











2.      Pilot a national adult education administrator’s credential


1.    NYC Literacy Assistance Center is competitively awarded $300,000 to develop the system.









2.     New York, Maryland, and Arizona are competitively selected to pilot the training modules.  25 next generation adult education administrators are selected.


1.         Product design and training occurs:  orientation training for new teachers; numeracy workshops to raise GED math scores; core training for all teachers; and manual to align adult education with Regents learning standards.


2.      Training occurs.  Leaders are recognized.  The curriculum is modified to include New York priorities.


1.      Professional development products are aligned with all SED training.  RAEN Networks develop a concerted campaign to recruit and train the next generation of adult education teachers.




2.      Federal and State funding is aligned to support the credential.  Training is incorporated into New York’s professional development system.

Work Readiness Skills for Out-of-School Youth and Adults


·        SED works with NYS Department of Labor (DOL), business leaders, and the NYS Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) to develop a national, portable work readiness credential.



·        SED pilots and assesses the effectiveness of work readiness credentials, including the credential developed by the SWIB.

·        SED and workforce partners identify effective work readiness curricula that contextualize literacy and ESOL instruction.

·        SED works with RAEN Networks, employers and workforce partners to expand capacity.