Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

FY17 Performance Standards 11/2/16 Update

November 2, 2016 Dear Adult Education Program Directors: In an effort to ensure that adult students in the Commonwealth achieve and maintain family sustaining wages — the ultimate goal for students in adult education — it is paramount that programs help students achieve outcomes that matter. Now more than ever, programs must provide high-quality instruction that advances students through educational functioning levels so that they obtain a high school equivalency credential, enroll in postsecondary education and training, and have a viable career leading to self-sufficiency. Therefore, ACLS's vision for adult education no longer centers on process standards; ACLS has developed a new performance accountability system that focuses on outcomes so that students never waver on their path toward success. Moreover, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) ensures access to education and workforce services for individuals with barriers to employment through increased accountability among states that receive federal adult education funding. To this end, ACLS has been working with the adult education field, state directors, and other stakeholders within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) to create an accountability system that would effectively and fairly capture outcomes aligned with the WIOA federal measures and ACLS's new vision for adult education. In the fall of 2015, ACLS worked with a task force of five ABE directors who recommended measures to inform the creation of a state performance accountability system. The charge of the task force was to review the six WIOA measures and the current ACLS performance standards in order to:
  1. decide which WIOA measures to recommend replicating in a state accountability system;
  2. decide which of the current state standards to recommend replicating in the state system; and
  3. prioritize the recommended standards.
The work of the task force informed ACLS's new accountability framework. ACLS also analyzed educational gain data (i.e., educational functional level completion and achievement of meaningful learner gains), high school credential obtainment rates, and enrollment into postsecondary education and training percentages. The new state performance accountability system includes the following standard:
Measurable Skill Gain (MSG), which includes Educational Functioning Level (EFL) Completion, High School Equivalency (HSE) Credential Obtainment, and Postsecondary Education or Training (PSE/T) Enrollment.
Since ACLS gathers and analyzes baseline data before developing state standards, the following are considered measures at this time and will become standards in FY19:
  1. Employment in the second quarter after exit
  2. Employment in the fourth quarter after exit
  3. Median Income in the second quarter after exit
For the MSG standard, programs will be assigned an annual target using a formula that incorporates:
  1. the number of students who pretest into each of the National Reporting System (NRS) levels that a program serves, and
  2. (based on historical data) the degree of difficulty completing (i.e., testing out of) an EFL, obtaining a HSE credential, and enrolling in PSE/T.
Programs would be ranked based on how close they come to meeting or exceeding their MSG target, and performance would be the actual completion percentage relative to the target. In terms of the state performance accountability system, this year and FY18 will be pilot years; programs will monitor their data and inform ACLS of any issues and challenges, and ACLS will look for data trends and issues. Upon completion of the pilot, aspects of the framework will be modified based on data and input. Because of WIOA, programs are currently and will continue to be accountable in terms of federal WIOA outcomes; therefore, data collection is required for the rest of this fiscal year and in future years. ACLS will offer trainings in the form of two webinars in late November and early December (dates to be announced soon), and after that will host an open/public comment period to gather feedback on the proposed performance standards. The comment period will most likely be in late December after the second webinar. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the proposed performance accountability framework, send them to the performance standards mailbox. The question and answer will be posted under Hot Topics on the ACLS webpage within a week or two. ACLS is confident that the proposed accountability system is equitable, aligns with the WIOA measures, and will ensure that students achieve success in adult education and beyond. Sincerely,

Jolanta Conway
Massachusetts ABE State Director

Last Updated: November 4, 2016

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