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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Desk Review Workbook and Process

Dear Program Directors,

Last month I announced that ACLS had developed a desk review workbook and process modeled on similar tools in other states. Since then, staff from nearly all programs participated in one of the initial training webinars conducted by Shannon Stangis of LiteracyPro Systems and are registering for a follow-up webinar next week. Revised instructions will be emailed to you and posted on the LACES page of the ACLS website. Shannon is recording a tutorial video for each sheet of the workbook. Please contact your program specialist for the links to the tutorials and to the recorded webinars. I have attached the updated version (v1.1) of the desk review.

Many of you have questioned the rationale behind this new requirement and expressed concerns about the amount of time required to complete the workbook. WIOA ushered in a new era of accountability. The US Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (ED) will hold states accountable and, as per WIOA legislation, sanction states that fall short of their state performance requirements. Similarly, states will hold grantees accountable. Last spring, ACLS adjusted grant awards based on programs' actual enrollment relative to their targets. We have had enrollment and performance expectations for decades, but this was the first time ACLS systematically held grantees accountable to those expectations.

It is the responsibility of ACLS to ensure that students receive the best services possible and that public funds are expended properly. The primary windows through which ACLS can view grantee performance are EdGrants drawdowns and LACES data. This requires accurate and timely data collection and entry. To accomplish this, ACLS staff and grantees must be looking at and understanding the data in the same way. As I wrote last month, the goal of the desk review is to improve data quality. By regularly reviewing enrollment, waitlist, assessment, post-exit outcomes, and drawdowns, grantees and program specialists will to identify areas of high performance and of concern and will to respond accordingly. This desk review process addresses directors' concerns about the discrepancy in the way programs and ACLS staff were looking at data last spring and summer.

It has always been the responsibility of ACLS to ensure data quality. As the stakes rise and awards and eligibility for additional funding are tied to enrollment and performance, the work of data review must be a shared responsibility. By monitoring and understanding your LACES data, you will be able to (1) correct any errors that you find in your data, (2) identify and respond to areas of success or underperformance, (3) report to your stakeholders, or (4) examine and ensure that our analyses accurately reflect your efforts. A collaborative process will ensure that we get those decisions right.

Five times this year, program directors will submit the desk review workbook via an online portal on the LACES page. Your program specialist will log your submission, review for accuracy, identify areas of concern (e.g. low enrollment), and contact you if necessary.

You articulated your concerns about the time required to complete desk reviews. We considered your feedback and developed a progressive approach to desk review implementation:

  • In October and December, you will complete the Overview, Enrollment, and MSG sheets;
  • If you have an IET or IELCE grant, the IET sheet will not need to be completed until December;
  • In February, you will submit everything except the Employment sheet; and
  • The entire workbook must be submitted in April and June.

MA Desk Review Instructions (version 1.2)
FY20 Desk Review Worksheet (version 1.1)


Wyvonne Stevens-Carter

Adult Education State Director

Last Updated: October 9, 2019

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