November 11, 2009
The NRS should be revised to ensure that federal adult education accountability is focused on objective, measurable, evidence-based indicators of student progress toward credentials of value and success in the labor market.
Measure all core outcomes (educational gains, entered employment, retained employment, receipt of secondary school diploma or GED, and entered postsecondary education or training) for all Title II participants. This will establish a performance baseline. Programs should continue to be required to work with students to establish educational and employment goals, but these goals should not be used in the NRS to establish the denominator for measuring performance on core outcomes.
Simplify current NRS learning gains measures from the current educational functioning levels to the number of students who make statistically significant educational gains on nationally recognized tests, and require states to report these numbers. This will incent more programs to serve lower-level learners, whose learning gains are not adequately captured by current NRS functioning levels.
To ensure that gains are significant and not just reflecting practice effects, a panel of experts should be convened to determine the best protocol for such testing and to recommend ways to align testing practices between adult education, colleges, and the workforce development system.
Rather than simply measuring enrollment in postsecondary education, add a measure or measures of postsecondary success, such as completing the equivalent of one semester of occupational training or college-level math or English, or earning a credential of demonstrated value in the labor market. The addition of such measures is consistent with the legislative definition of one of the core adult education performance measures, which requires ―placement in, retention in, or completion of, postsecondary education, training, unsubsidized employment or career advancement.‖
The Departments of Education and Labor should convene experts on performance management and representatives of key stakeholders to define the measures and the methodology for capturing this information, including whether to extend the follow-up period for this measure to at least two years after exit from the adult education program.
The joint Education-Labor expert panel should consider whether to revise measures of career success to track total quarters of employment and earnings over time, instead of current employment measures that examine employment during particular quarters.
Given the federal government’s desire for states to build robust longitudinal performance management data systems, the Department of Education should provide guidance clarifying the authority of states to match administrative records to longitudinally track adult education students into the labor market and across postsecondary education and training services and require all states to convert to Student Unit Record (SUR) tracking of adult education students within five years.
These recommendations were produced by CLASP’s Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. For more information, contact: Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or Evelyn Ganzglass at email@example.com.
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