About Dialogues |
Briefing Book |
Emerging Modes of Delivery, Certification
As California considers the educational challenges of the 21st Century,
it faces a new reality for those living and working in a changing economy
— one that has a foundation of information and communications technology
and one that is influenced by national and international events. This
‘new’ economy provides advantages to those who have demonstrated
strong basic skills in language, reading, writing, mathematics, technology, and
critical thinking. Without these basic skills, people are less prepared, if
prepared at all, to benefit from the advantages presented to them in such a
California also faces daunting challenges as it accommodates
the needs of its newcomers. Many come into the United States through
California. As reported in the report, Less-Educated Workers in California: A
Statistical Abstract, California Research Bureau, nearly one of every five
adult workers in California lacked a high school degree in 1999. About 70
percent of these workers were foreign born, and a large percentage received
public assistance. To participate effectively in the education, employment, and
civics opportunities of this State and country, immigrants and other limited
English-proficient persons must master English and be able to understand and
navigate government, educational, workplace systems, and health care.
California’s economy underscores the need for and importance of
short-term vocational training for adults in non-degree, non-tuition programs.
Today’s technology, globalization, and changing job markets result in most
adults’ changing jobs every three-to-five years and careers every ten
years. Short-term vocational training provided by adult continuing education
allows adults with entry-level skills and limited incomes to become employable
and then pursue college and university options while supporting themselves and
families. This training is particularly important for those adults losing
The adult continuing education
system is comparable in context
to its K-12 and postsecondary education counterparts that grant credit or
degrees: as a system; it addresses the challenges inherent in instruction,
professional development, assessment and accountability, facilities, and
California’s population, like that in other states, is
aging and presents educational challenges to its communities. The fastest
growing population today includes those over 85 years old, and recent brain
research reveals that education, or life-long learning, can be linked to the
prevention of cognitive decline. Active older learners can maintain independent
living, avoid depression, actively participate in civic affairs, and promote
health through sound interaction in educational settings.
targets academic achievement for all children, it needs to concurrently address
the needs of parents. The literacy skill of the parent is a significant factor
in a child’s potential to be successful in school. As the State addresses
the ability of parents to speak English, get and retain a job, and develop
skills equivalent to a high school diploma it increases the potential to help
all children to succeed.
- The State should establish a funding base adequate to the increasing
challenges facing California’s Adult Continuing Education System.
Learners should have access to quality programs that are
supported with adequate funding.
Commentary: Current levels of
financing for Adult Continuing Education are inadequate to the needs of this
burgeoning system. The State should base the funding for California’s
Adult Continuing Education System on population size, and should factor in other
variables including economic conditions, income levels, levels of educational
attainment, and limited English proficiency of learners. California’s
Adult Continuing Education System must provide funding that adequately supports
instruction, assessment, professional development, infrastructure, and
interagency coordination. Funding should also support curriculum development
services, recruitment and retention, and commensurate employment
With adequate funding, the system can provide to its students
access to counselors and
advisors, technology, safe and
adequate facilities, quality instructors and administrators receiving ongoing
professional development and mentoring, and work-based education. Funding
formulas therefore need to provide adequate means for these programs and
services that is comparable to that provided for community college credit
programs and not based on hour-by-hour attendance or capped funding
Member comments: The subgroup’s recommendation was
to increase funding on a per-pupil student basis to match the revenue limit for
the K-12 system. Currently, the funding levels for adult continuing education
offered in adult schools is approximately one-third that of K-12 education and
does not include access to the categorical funds that augment the K-12 programs.
The Working Group as a whole did not support this funding model, although
members agreed that funding should be increased. Some members expressed concern
that with finite funding available for all of education, increases in adult
continuing education would come at the expense of the K-12 program.
Flexibility to Meet Learner
- The State should develop a broad set of program categories that allow for
the substantial flexibility necessary to meet local needs of adult learners.
- Proposed categories include Life Management Skills, Civics Participation,
Workforce Learning, and Foundational/Academic Skills Development.
Commentary: California’s adult
continuing education system must be flexible to provide relevant courses, based
on adult learners’ needs and educational goals and on workforce needs.
Courses should reflect the community’s social, business, and economic
needs, rather than a predetermined list of course titles and program areas.
Providers indicate that students in need of services are denied access to
programs because of limitations stemming from such factors as meeting high
demand with limited resources, geographic isolation of students and programs,
and small size of some providers. With flexibility in development and delivery
of course offerings, providers could identify and meet previously unmet learner
Courses should be organized according to
The program categories currently offered are:
- English as a Second Language
- Elementary and Secondary Basic Skills
- Short-term Vocational Education
- Adults with Disabilities
- Older Adults
- Home Economics
- Health and Safety
- Citizenship for Immigrants
Following is a description of proposed categories and of
Life Management Skills — supports
high performance skills necessary to many aspects of functioning, based on life
changes. This category would include the following courses.
- English as a Second Language to
provide English literacy skills for limited English speaking adults.
- Citizenship for Immigrants to provide citizenship education
and preparation for the citizenship application process.
- Adults with Disabilities to emphasize community
access and independent living.
- Older Adults to offer opportunities for personal growth and
development, community involvement, and survival skills needed for
self-maintenance and economic self-sufficiency.
- Health and Safety to emphasize the positive aspects of
maintaining health literacy, including physical, mental, and emotional well
being, and to demonstrate how good health and safety practices can prolong life
and add to the quality of living.
- Parenting to assist parents of children from
infancy through adolescence in parenting and child-rearing skills, to help
parents have a positive effect on children’s health, behavior, success in
school, and emotional development.
- Home Economics to prepare individuals for entry-level or
advanced training in home occupational areas and to help other individuals and
families meet the challenges of daily living and improve the quality of home and
Civics Participation — supports
those individuals who need the skills required to participate effectively in
civic life, at the neighborhood, community, county, state, and federal levels.
Workforce Learning — supports skill development in a
work setting, or through integrated worksite experiences in classroom
Foundational/Academic Skills —
supports courses in basic skills leading up to and including a high school
diploma or its equivalent.
- The State should expand adult continuing education course standards to
include student performance measures such as those developed by the National
Skill Standards Board, the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary
Skills (SCANS), and Equipped for the
Commentary: Currently there are
state-approved model standards for five of the nine existing categories for
noncredit and adult education. The established standards support programs in
English as a Second Language, Adult Elementary and Secondary Skills, Parent
Education, Older Adult, and Adults with Disabilities Programs. With the
exception of the Adults with Disabilities category, the standards are now being
reviewed and updated by providers of noncredit and adult education. If the
program categories are revised to include an emphasis on workforce learning,
these standards should be expanded to include student performance measures such
as those developed by the National Skills Standards Board, SCANS, and Equipped
for the future.
These standards should be the basis for professional
development in the adult continuing education system. Trained professionals are
better able to deliver new content, and they have an increased capacity to
continuously improve programs by using local data to make informed decisions
about content, delivery modes, and appropriate student-support
Member comments: State model standards should be in place
for all instructional categories before applying performance measures.
- The State should support an accountability system for adult
continuing education students, emphasizing student performance and rewards for
institutions for achievement.
Commentary: The oversight body
for adult continuing education should identify and set reasonable standards for
learner performance and should hold educational programs accountable for student
performance across the many types of programs for adult learners not enrolled in
college and university credit programs. This accountability requirement would
require adult continuing education providers to measure growth in adults’
knowledge of content, skills, and competencies that can be taught and learned
With the emphasis on accountability from both the
State and federal government, the adult continuing education system must include
strategies to determine the effectiveness of its various programs. Such data
will assist policymakers to determine the appropriate future funding for the
system. Such research on program effectiveness should be grounded in appropriate
research designs, complete and accurate data, and identified outcomes that are
appropriate and sufficient to indicate program effectiveness. Therefore, the
system must address current challenges that exist with incompatibility of data
collection approaches between adult schools and noncredit community
- The State should support the ongoing professional development of all
staff who work with adult learners, to enable the students to develop the
skills, knowledge, and aptitudes for life-long
Commentary: The scope and content of the
state model standards for adult continuing education should become the basis for
professional development in the adult continuing education system. Trained
professionals not only are in a position to deliver new content, but have an
increased capacity to continuously improve programs by using local data to make
informed decisions about content, delivery modes, and appropriate student
Coordination, Cooperation, and
- The State should review the governance structure for adult continuing
education, including the role of the Joint Board Committee on Noncredit and
Adult Education, with the goal of achieving a seamless delivery system among
multiple providers that ensures a smooth transition for those adult learners
continuing on to formal education, entering the workforce, or pursuing other
Commentary: California’s current
dualistic delivery system for adult continuing education places challenges on
the providers to sufficiently cooperate and coordinate efforts so that an adult
learner can take courses from different providers and still meet long-term
educational goals. To meet that challenge, the State Board of Education and the
Board of Governors agreed to establish a joint working group to address mutually
important and recurring issues. This Joint Board Committee, however, has had no
funding or formal staff to conduct regular meetings of adult continuing
education practitioners; as a result, there has been minimal progress in meeting
the twelve recommendations that emerged from a series of public hearings related
to adult and noncredit education.
A formal structure must oversee the development and
implementation of policy.
Instructors must meet common minimum qualifications and
have reciprocity within the delivery system.
With the Governor’s proposal to
move some adult education programs from the Department of Education to the
Community Colleges, there has been recent attention on these programs and the
current governance structure. The Governor has assigned a formal review to
identify pertinent findings that can be used to inform policy
Working Group members discussed the current governance
structure but did not come to consensus on a specific recommendation. The
majority of the adult continuing education subgroup members preferred that the
existing Joint Board for Adult and Noncredit Education be strengthened and
empowered. There was not the same support for this option from the larger group,
given that the Governor’s proposal was not sufficiently outlined at this
point, making it difficult for the group to form an opinion. For example, the
Governor’s proposal was not clear about who would provide services and did
not address concerns that the community college system does not have the
capacity to serve all adult learners. There is widespread need throughout the
state for multiple providers to ensure access to adult programs.
Member comments: Many organizations oppose the Governor’s
proposal including school districts, the Association of California School
Administrators, the California Department of Education, the California Teachers
Association, and some local community college districts. Many members expressed
a view that overall the existing system has served adult learners well and that
California’s current system has been a model at the national level.
Further, since members did not agree on a new proposed governance structure,
there was some hesitation to include this recommendation in the report.
- The State should develop a mechanism for the reciprocity of instructional
credentials, based on minimum qualifications, between the adult education and
noncredit systems to allow instructors to teach in either or both
Commentary: California’s current
dualistic delivery system for adult and noncredit education places challenges on
providers to sufficiently cooperate and coordinate efforts so that an adult
learner can take courses from different providers and still meet long-term
educational goals. Although the categories for instruction for community college
noncredit and adult schools are identical, there are different
requirements for instructor qualifications. Adult school instructors must be
credentialed by the CTC; community college noncredit instructors must meet
minimum qualifications established by the Academic Senate of the California
Currently, to teach noncredit courses in a community
college, a person must meet subject-specific minimum qualifications specified in
state regulations unless he or she is a “grandfathered”
credential-holder. Of the nine categories, adult education credentials in only
two categories — short-term vocational programs, and English as a Second
Language — satisfy the minimum qualifications to teach in community
A policy in place such that instructors in one system would be
accepted in the other without the necessity of going through the other
system’s process for qualification to teach. Another option would be a
policy requiring uniform minimum qualifications.