Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)
FY14 Curriculum Policy Update
October 24, 2013
Dear Program Directors,
For over 20 years, the Massachusetts Adult Basic Education (ABE) system has been engaged in building a standards-based system. A critical component of a standards based system is identifying what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in their next steps and their roles as parents, workers and community members. Adult Community Learning Services (ACLS) has been committed to a standards-based system in which curriculum, instruction, and assessment are all aligned to our Curriculum Framework content standards and benchmarks.
In the past few years, however, the nation has become increasingly aware that the bar has been raised on what students need to know and be able to do in order to succeed in life and on the job. The term "college and career ready" has been informed by research and input from higher education. Businesses and industry have also been clear about what knowledge and skills students need in order to be successful in careers. The belief that for all students to be college and career ready, in order to succeed, resulted in 46 states developing the Common Core State Standards in 2010. Acknowledging that adult learners do not have the same amount of time for learning when compared to K-12 students, the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCRSAE) were developed by the Office for Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) for ABE this year. These standards are a verbatim subset of the Common State Standards.
The CCRSAE explicitly identify the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that are needed for success in college and careers. They encompass more rigorous core skills in English Language Arts and Literacy and Mathematics. If mastered by adult students, these skills will enable them to avoid college developmental courses and be prepared to work at a job that will provide them with a living wage. We know that too few students now make gains that accomplish either of these goals. Therefore, the decision has been made that ESE funded programs will adopt the College and Career Readiness Standards as the basis of their curriculum, instruction, and assessment for the foreseeable future. The goal of these standards is to guide curriculum development and teaching so that all students will become college and career ready.
However, ACLS does not want to lose the best elements of the Massachusetts ABE Curriculum Frameworks. It is our intention to integrate elements of the Massachusetts ABE Curriculum Frameworks with the CCRSAE, but it will take time to do this. ACLS is in the process of modifying the English Language Arts and Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks for this purpose. Our goal is to have complete and comprehensive standards and Curriculum Frameworks in both ELA and Math before FY16. For the remainder of FY14 and FY15, ACLS would like programs to become more familiar with and adept at using the College and Career Readiness Standards. For ABE instruction, they will remain the foundation even after FY16. Programs will need to begin now to develop a scope and sequence for its curriculum and units and lesson plans aligned to the College and Career Readiness Standards. ACLS expects to observe that progress is being made every year in this development.
ESOL programs should continue to use the 2005 ESOL Curriculum Framework Standards and Benchmarks. ESOL programs should view/use the College and Career Readiness Standards to support students' goal achievement related to opportunities for college and careers. The Standards identify what is essential for all students, including ESOL students to gain the critical skills and knowledge expected for success in postsecondary education, technical training and employment in the 21st century. ESOL students need many various opportunities to engage with language and content as they refine their reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities.
The need for increased rigor has had a profound impact not only on what students need to know and do but also on what teachers need to know and be able to do. The College and Career Readiness Standards also demand specific and important shifts in how English Language Arts and Math are taught. These "instructional shifts" are vital to supporting students in becoming college and career ready, and must be reflected in a program's scope and sequence, units, and lesson plans, as well as in the pedagogy applied.
Understanding the College and Career Readiness Standards and using them well for the benefit of adult learners is a long-range endeavor. Practitioners will have access to professional development in the effective use of the CCRSAE. In addition, ACLS has contracted with EDC (Education Development Center) to develop sample scope and sequences, units, and lesson plans for ELA and Math that will be aligned to the College and Career Readiness Standards in FY14. Programs may use or adapt these materials to align with program goals. Using the College and Career Readiness Standards to support all levels of students in becoming college and career ready will take time, but alignment and change needs to begin now so that we can ensure that greater numbers of students can achieve their next steps.
I look forward to seeing you at the College and Career Readiness Conference next week. It will be the start of the important work ahead.
With Literacy in Mind.
ABE State Director