Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Proposed Adult Education Local Workforce Allocation Areas and Program Funding Methodologies for FY2019

To:Adult Education Directors
From:Jolanta Conway, Adult Education State Director
Date:June 12, 2017

The Adult Community and Learning Services (ACLS) Unit of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) is preparing to rebid the adult education system for FY2019 through an open and competitive request for proposals (RFP) this summer. In order to better align resources with the educational need in each area and to support system shifts to focus on program flexibility and student outcomes, ESE, in consultation with the Executive Office of Education (EOE) and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD), has developed a proposed data-based formula to distribute funding across Massachusetts' 16 local workforce areas. In this memo, we describe the proposed allocation methodology and other funding considerations, including how ACLS proposes to determine grant amounts, and seek your feedback and comments.

Proposed allocation methodology to the 16 local workforce areas

ESE proposes an allocation methodology1 based on the following data:
  • 40% Adult Education Need: as determined by the 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) Five-Year Estimates of educational need (i.e., the percent of a region's adult population that has less than a high school credential or is not proficient in English);
  • 10% Adult Education Demand: as determined by the percent of each region's average monthly enrollment (September to June) and waitlist; and
  • 50% Historical Funding: the percent of FY16 adult education allocation to each region, which is designed to mitigate extreme shifts to funding levels in a particular region (a partial "hold harmless" provision).
An analysis of the current allocations of the adult education funds for the 16 workforce areas showed that area funding levels did not reflect educational need as defined by the ACS estimate. The goal of weighting the variables is to better align funding levels with educational need and demand without reducing funding by more than 30% (assuming level funding) in each of the 16 workforce areas. As a result of the proposed allocation methodology, six workforce areas will lose funds and ten will gain funds:
  • Franklin/Hampshire and Berkshire County decrease by approximately 30%,
  • North Central Mass, Boston, and Cape and Islands will decrease by approximately 12% to 15%,
  • Bristol will decrease by approximately 2%,
  • Metro North, Brockton, Greater Lowell, Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce, and North Shore will see increases ranging from approximately 11% to 23%,
  • Greater New Bedford, Hampden County, Merrimack Valley, the South Shore, and Central Mass areas will see slight increases of approximately 2% to 6%.
Please note that a decrease in the percent share of funding does not necessarily mean a decrease in total dollars historically allocated to the region (this depends on the overall funding levels and the comparison point of time) or in the number of adult students served (due to historical under-enrollment in some areas and the proposed program funding methodology; see below). ACLS is working on an FY19 estimate of adult education system funding. Once complete, we will publish the 16 local area allocations in the open and competitive RFP.

Proposed adult education program funding methodology

In order to maximize service levels for adult students, ESE also anticipates setting adult education program funding parameters and minimum enrollment expectations. Under the proposed methodology, ESE will not fund programs that exceed funding parameters or that are designed to serve enrollment levels below minimum enrollment expectations without extraordinary justification. Program funding will be calculated based on the proposed number of active and unique student seats that a program is designed to serve on an ongoing basis during the funding year, multiplied by a cost per seat within a range set by ACLS. In their grant proposals for FY19, programs will need to:
  • Articulate the number of active and unique student seats that the program is designed to serve on an ongoing basis (no fewer than 50);
  • Propose a program design of sufficient intensity and duration of services to ensure the achievement of student outcomes;
  • Allocate 75% of funding to direct services; no more than 25% can be used for administrative costs, including indirect costs (Note: This is not a change from current ACLS policy.); and
  • Include a reasonable cost per active and unique student seat:
    • Programs are encouraged to propose a cost per annualized seat that does not exceed $2,800. Expected cost per annualized seat is likely to range from approximately $1,900 ($1,960 is the 25th percentile of all programs in FY2016) and $2,800 ($2,840 is the 75th percentile of all programs).
    • If proposing a cost per annualized seat above $2,800, programs must provide a compelling rationale and may not be funded at the requested level.
    • Reasonable cost will be a key factor in determining awards. Programs are encouraged to leverage other funds as a cash match in order to add additional services and/or lower the cost per active and unique seat.
In addition, for the FY19 to FY22 funding cycle, ACLS is considering the possibility of distributing no more than 10% of funds to programs that meet or exceed targets in incentive areas. Current incentive areas under consideration are overall enrollment levels, serving students in basic skill level classes (GLE 0-3), and high levels of MSG attainment. ACLS will conduct additional analyses and will consult stakeholders prior to implementing incentive funding. However, please note that ACLS will also reduce the grants of providers that are persistently under-enrolled.

Proposed changes to Outstationing Services and Adult Career Pathways

Programs can apply for outstationing funds through the open and competitive RFP. ACLS anticipates funding only one outstationed staff per workforce area. In Boston we will fund a full-time outstationed coordinator due to the large number of programs. ACLS plans to discontinue Adult Career Pathways (ACP) program funding as a separate grant after FY18. ACLS encourages providers to incorporate the critical career exploration and readiness activities developed through ACP into CALC services and classes. The decision to eliminate ACP funding through the workforce development boards is also cost effective because it decreases the administrative burden of processing separate grants. Local WDBs have been instrumental in facilitating the expansion of the career pathways work in adult education. ACLS will continue to contribute to the workforce system by setting aside funds to be distributed among the 16 local workforce areas to support the workforce involvement in the following:
  • Review of adult education proposals,
  • Participation of WDB staff on program monitoring and selected site visits,
  • Development of effective employer partnerships to place eligible adult education students in jobs,
  • Support and guidance to adult education programs related to the development of viable career pathways for adult learners in their local workforce areas,
  • Support and guidance to adult education programs related to the development of bridge classes and integrated education and training programs,
  • Support and guidance to adult education programs in serving "shared customers,"
  • Support and guidance to the outstationed ABE staff located at One-Stops (including Boston Navigator),
  • For Boston, coordination of quarterly Adult Literacy Initiative (ALI) meetings.
Please send any questions, comments, or feedback to ACLS Assistant Director Toby Maguire by June 20, 2017. After consideration of comments and feedback, ESE will codify these policy changes as part of the guidelines issued for the open and competitive RFP this summer.

Note: line 1 ESE also considered an additional variable to identify the portion of each local area's workforce that lacked sufficient education or English proficiency to advance in the labor market. However, the labor market data did not include a sufficiently detailed indicator of English proficiency (i.e., the only indicator available is whether an individual's first language was English, without distinction regarding English proficiency level).

Last Updated: June 12, 2017

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