OCTAE Celebrates Historic Educational Achievements

On October 17, 2016, the White House released a fact sheet that summarized the many remarkable achievements in education accomplished by the Obama Administration. OCTAE celebrates our teachers’, leaders’, and students’ contributions to these accomplishments, including

  • America’s high school graduation rate reaching a record new high of 83.2 percent
  • a narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority populations
  • a vision of Next Generation High Schools
  • work to develop and support great teachers
  • work to promote college success

See President Obama’s full remarks at a Benjamin Banneker Academic High School Washington, D.C. high school.

Read the full fact sheet.

No More Blank Resumes

I remember my first job well. I tended to greenhouses and operated machines. It taught me so much. I learned how to show up on time every day. I learned how to get tasks done irrespective of whether they excited me or not. I developed relationships with adults and learned how to work in a team and resolve conflicts. I learned how to receive and respond to feedback. I learned about consequences of mistakes. I learned about accountability and rewards. I appreciated the structure my first job brought to my life. And, as a young man, I sure appreciated the extra cash. But, perhaps most importantly, I ended up with some experience I could put on my resume or on an application form.

All young people need a first-job. It gives them some experience, increases their confidence, and allows them to develop their networks. But not all are getting it. One in seven young people aged 16 to 24 are both out of school and out of work – a population that is disproportionately young men of color.  That is why, on Tuesday, the White House launched the #FirstJob Compact of Best Practices for Hiring, Recruiting, and Supporting Young People —a set of best practices that were designed with leading companies in hiring and promoting young people who are not in school or working. The #FirstJob Compact will accomplish several things including identifying jobs and internships for youth with no experience and developing a plan to support these youth once hired. It also calls on nonprofits, school districts, workforce development boards, and others to help recruit these youth.

Nearly 40 major companies have signed on as Founding Members of #FirstJob Compact. Gap Inc. is one of these companies and has committed to expanding its life skills and paid internship program. This Way Ahead is the name of Gap’s program that gives 16 to 24 year olds from low-income communities training and in-store work experience. Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy will recruit five percent of all entry-level store employees from graduates from this program by 2025, or approximately 5,000 hires per year.

I am calling on employers in the education sector to do the same. There are approximately 13,500 school districts and almost 100,000 public schools, 2,300 adult education programs, and more than 7,000 institutions of higher education in the U.S. If each of these institutions offers just one young person their first job, then we will have made an important step in the right direction. Let’s work together to end resumes that have blanks in the experience section.

Photo of Johan Uvin
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Johan E. Uvin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary (delegated the duties of the Assistant Secretary) for career, technical, and adult education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2016 Roundup

Thank you to everyone who helped make Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2016 so vibrant and far-reaching! Check out some of the great tweets we caught during the week on #AEFLWeek.

USCIS Awards Citizenship and Integration Grants in 21 States

This information is cross-posted from the USCIS site. Read the full press release and list of providers here.

On Sept. 1, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the award of nearly $10 million in grants under two competitive funding opportunities to 46 organizations to help permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship. The recipient organizations serve both traditional immigrant destinations and new immigrant gateway cities in 21 states. The grant recipients will provide citizenship preparation services to approximately 25,000 permanent residents from more than 50 countries. The recipients represent:

  • Seventeen of the top 20 states with the largest permanent resident populations (California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Connecticut, Ohio Minnesota and Colorado);
  • Nine of the top 10 metropolitan areas with the most new permanent residents in the past 10 years (New York City; Los Angeles; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; San Francisco; Houston; Dallas-Fort Worth; and Boston); and
  • Nine of the top 10 states with the most naturalizations over the last 10 years (California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington).

National Coalition for Literacy 2016 Awards

Johan Uvin speaking at podium after accepting award.

Johan Uvin accepting National Coalition for Literacy award.

OCTAE is proud to have witnessed the Literacy Leadership Award given by the National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) to our own Acting Assistant Secretary Johan E. Uvin on September 27, 2016. The ceremony is held in honor of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, which is celebrated at events in communities across the country to help raise awareness about this issue.  Follow along on Twitter at #AEFLWeek.

During the ceremony, NCL President Jeff Carter said, “Many in this room and around the country know Johan from his tireless work at OCTAE over the last seven years, but Johan would be deserving of this award even if he had never come to Washington: his years of dedication to adult learners, and his accomplishments as a leader in our field, are that impressive. Johan possesses all of the most critical characteristics of a great leader: focus, passion, honesty, intellectual curiosity — and most of all, he truly cares. That is also why he is a great educator.”

Also honored at this year’s event were:

  • Senator Jack Reed, who has been a champion for adult education funding in the U.S. Senate, and at the forefront of legislative efforts to strengthen adult education research and adult education’s role in the workforce system and career and technical education.
  • The Division of Consumer & Business Education at the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, for its commitment to serving and guiding adults with limited reading ability, and for its outreach to those working with them, particularly teachers in adult basic education and ESL programs. See an OCTAE blog post from earlier this year sharing the many resources from the FTC, and the FTC blog announcing the award.
  • Margaret Becker Patterson, of Research Allies for Lifelong Learning, and Marty Finsterbusch, of VALUE USA, for ALLIES, a groundbreaking research study on adult learner leadership.
  • John Y. Cole, Library of Congress Historian and founding Director of the Center for the Book, who has been instrumental in shaping numerous literacy and reading-promotion programs during his 50-year tenure at the Library, including the Library of Congress Literacy Awards.
  • Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), the co-chair of the House Adult Literacy Caucus, received special recognition for his life-long commitment in support of adult education, and for outstanding leadership in advocating education as a congressional and national priority.


Learning More About English Learner Youth

This post joins an ongoing series, examining trends in needs and services for disconnected youth. (See the first post, 5 Million Reasons to Care About Youth.) This post welcomes Libia Gil, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), as a co-author, with Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary of OCTAE.

OCTAE and OELA have teamed up to learn more about the demographic characteristics, educational attainment, and employment status of older adolescent and young adult English learners (ELs), ages 14 – 21. Many of these learners are unable to complete high school within the traditional time frame and may enroll in adult education programs to earn a high school credential, improve their English language skills, and acquire job skills.

This Executive Summary and Infographic, Older Adolescent and Young Adult English Learners: A Study of Demographics, Policies, and Programs,summarizes an extensive analysis of the relevant data from the American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) data.

Key findings about older adolescents and young adult ELs, compared to their non-EL peers, summarized on the infographic include:

  • ELs are more likely to not complete high school, especially in the older 19-21 year old cohort with 22% of ELs vs. 6% of non-ELs without a high school credential;
  • ELs are less likely to be enrolled in formal education, especially in the older 19-21 year old cohort with 44% of ELs vs. 60% non-ELs enrolled; and
  • For those not enrolled, ELs are more likely to be employed.

Read More

Student Voices Kick Off Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2016

“I wasn’t just signed up for a course, I was asked “What pathway do you want to go on?”  I was given options and I didn’t know I had those options, and it opened up another whole door of opportunity for me. Since then I’ve transitioned from the workforce development program…to the community college…and now I’m at the 4-year campus. ..I didn’t know I had those options until someone asked me, “What’s your purpose?” Asking the right questions is how I’m here and thriving in an environment that’s very competitive.”

“Someone came by my [auto repair] garage and asked me about going back to school. I said I have a job, I don’t have time for education, I’m looking for a career path. But she left me the information anyway…This program has done so much for me. I now have a career, I can provide for my family, and…this program has opened my eyes.”

“Academy of Hope has given me the confidence that I need to go on and further my education and to get that certification so that I can go out and help other people.”

These stories of hope, struggle, and inspiration came from a panel of former and current students addressing the annual adult education meeting for state directors and staff.  Their experiences captivated the audience and reinforced the importance of these programs.

These adult students attend or completed a range of programs, including Academy of Hope, a public adult charter school in DC; the University of DC; and a career pathway program partnership with Alexandria, VA Public Schools and VA Dominion Power. The students shared their stories of challenges to get started on an educational path that supported their needs, and their strategies for completing their programs and setting new, higher goals.

During Adult Education and Family Literacy Week and every week, we salute all the youth and adults who are working on their education and thank their teachers and program staff. We are proud of our contribution in ensuring these programs are offered in communities around the country.

Learn more about Adult Education and Family Literacy Week and follow along on social media at #AEFL.

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Presents: Back to School Week!

This is cross-posted from the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, see the full article with all the events and follow along on Twitter with #HBCUB2School.  

Back to School Week

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU) has partnered with several of our Federal Agency Partners to present Back to School Week on September 19th-23rd 2016.  This week-long celebration will bring federal agencies closer to HBCU students to highlight student opportunities in the government and shine a light on some of the work of the agencies.  To reach as many HBCU students as possible, we will provide a mix of both in-person and virtual events.  Be sure to read each event description as some require pre-registration.  Please check back as the list of events is being updated. Happy Back to School Time! Read more.

Opportunity Across America Back-to-School Bus Tour

Join OCTAE this week as we hit the road for the Opportunity Across America Tour—the final back-to-school bus tour of the Obama Administration.

School bus with overlaid map of bus tour route DC to New Orleans.

2016 Opportunity Bus Tour

The tour kicks off in Washington, DC and continues across six states to highlight and celebrate the progress that we’ve made as a nation in education over the past seven years.

From rural towns to big cities, educators, schools, families, and communities share a belief that a quality education can expand opportunity and ensure our nation’s fundamental promise: that with hard work and determination, each of us can fulfill our great potential.

Working together, we can ensure that all students have access to an education that helps them achieve their dreams; that all students encounter school as a safe, nurturing, and joyful place to learn and grow; and that teachers are supported and lifted up in the vital work they do each day. Together, we can give every student and family the opportunity to succeed.

That’s what the Opportunity Across America Tour is all about. We hope you’ll follow along the journey and visit the OCTAE blog everyday to read about the programs, students and communities we meet throughout the week.

Join @usedgov on the tour and tell us what opportunity means to you by tagging your Tweet and Facebook post with #OpportunityTour

Monday – Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.

Today, on the first day of the 2016 Bus Tour: 8 Years of Expanding Opportunity Across America, Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin visited Capital City Public Charter School to emphasize the Administration’s commitment to Computer Science for All and recognize the significant accomplishments of Capital City, its faculty, and its students. Capital City is an outstanding example of a school committed to the Administration’s efforts to ensure that all students reap the fruits of the new technologies and hands-on learning that are transforming public education.

Photo of Johan Uvin with two students and a school staff member in school hallway.

Johan Uvin and OCTAE staff are led on a tour by students of the Capital City Public Charter School.

Capital City Public Charter School continues to demonstrate the ability to educate its students at a high level of success. Since its first graduating class in 2012, 100 percent of Capital City’s graduating seniors have been accepted to college! Of these graduates, seven were POSSE scholars, two were Trachtenberg Scholars, and one was a Milken Scholar.

Capital City was one of ten CTE Makeover Challenge winners in 2016, earning a $20,000 cash prize and almost $35,000 in equipment and software to help Capital City continue to provide high-quality, robust career and technical education experiences through “making” and computer science and enable students to succeed in the twenty-first century.

We were led by students on a tour of the winning makerspace and Johan Uvin led a roundtable discussion with students and faculty who shared their vision for “making” as well as work-based learning experiences with local public and private partnerships.

Photo of Johan Uvin seated in the cneter with two female students seated on either side of him.

Johan Uvin is flanked by two students of Capital City Public Charter School during the roundtable session.

These are just some of the accomplishments that led First Lady Michelle Obama to say: “Every young person in this country should have a team of teachers, counselors, and school leaders pushing them and supporting them like you [students] all have here at Capital City” during her visit in 2014.

Tuesday – West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, Kentucky

photo of Kim Ford sitting across a work table from a student

Students demonstrate their projects to Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford during her visit to WKCTC.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim R. Ford visited the state of Kentucky beginning the day at West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) in Paducah, Kentucky where she toured the Allied Health and the Emerging Technology buildings, while professors and students shared their experiences at WKCTC. Students talked about the integral role career coaches play in their academic success. The coaches support students with mandatory college paperwork, establishing educational and career goals, and other requests. It is this type of mentorship that helps sustain WKCTC’s 48 percent graduation/transfer rate, a rate eight points higher than the national average.

The visit ended with a roundtable discussion on college affordability efforts, student support systems on and off campus, innovation in postsecondary education, and strategic work-based learning partnerships in the community. Reflecting on the visit Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford said, “The level of innovation at WKCTC and the overall excitement from students and staff were very impressive. This was an incredibly exciting and informative visit.”

Photo of Student using an automobile body part to describe his skills to Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Ford, standing to his right.

Student Jason McGregory describes his skills to Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Ford.

The day continued with a visit to Graves County Restricted Custody Center (GCRCC) in Mayfield, KY, a male correctional facility where the adult correctional education classes and the Skilled Craft Training Center is administered by WKCTC. Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford got an inside look at GCRCC and its unique commitment to ensure that all incarcerated individuals hold a basic education. If individuals come to GCRCC without a high school diploma, GCRCC requires them to work towards their General Education Development (GED) certificate during their time there. Additionally, the program leverages technology and the Internet to advance student outcomes in adult basic education and English as a second language and increase the employability of incarcerated individuals when they reintegrate into society.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford heard from students on how the classes at GCRCC are helping them prepare for their future by exploring ideas and increasing their competencies in new technology. More than 10 community leaders joined the tour and expressed their view of adult correctional education programs as a larger effort to assist incarcerated individuals develop the skills needed for reintegration into society, not just as residents, but as leaders equipped to succeed. “It is great to see incarcerated individuals be given the opportunity to not only gain their GED, but also remain connected with technology while having the potential of their future contributions to our communities and their families be recognized by instructors and correctional facility staff,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford.

Local television station WPSD featured the visit in their evening newscast. You can view their story here.

Thursday – Eastside Promise Neighborhood, San Antonio, Texas

Acting Assistant Secretary, Johan Uvin, and Chief of Staff, Carmen Drummond, visited the Eastside Promise Neighborhood (EPN) in San Antonio, Texas, a 2011 recipient of the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods five year implementation grant. The vision of the program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career.

Photo of students gather around Johan Uvin, seated, demonstrating their enginieering project.

Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin watches as Bowden Elementary School 5th grade Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics students work on a knee brace. The students were from left, Sariya Jackson, Jade Cavazos, Jade White, and Cithaly Cerna.

The EPN’s school and community-based programs led by United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County are helping to reinforce the idea that children do well when their parents do well. Specifically, their Dual Generation Program offers families and parents access to job-readiness programs, support to further their education and family literacy workshops. Additionally, EPN supports San Antonio Independent School District initiatives that aim to increase STEM instruction in the six EPN schools. During the visit Assistant Secretary Uvin visited classrooms implementing STEM curriculum where students talked about their projects and the fun they have learning engineering.
Photo of Johan Uvin being led on a tour of the facility.

Director of the Eastside Promise Neighborhood Tony Leverett, left, gives a tour of the Ella Austin Child Care Center to Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin

The visit included an insightful round table discussion with EPN partners and San Antonio stakeholders. The group discussed the achievements seen at the EPN schools by creating cradle-to-career solutions of both educational programs and family and community supports, and how to maintain this momentum far into the future. Assistant Secretary Uvin congratulated the EPN and community partners by saying, “It is wonderful to learn about the great collaboration San Antonio has achieved with the mayor’s office, the school system and local philanthropic organizations. I look forward to seeing these partnerships sustain the great programming at EPN schools.”

After the EPN visit, Assistant Secretary Uvin met with the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and toured the Health Magnet Program at Fox Tech High School. Fox Tech students talked about the projects and work-based learning opportunities offered by the magnet program. Assistant Secretary Uvin also participated in a roundtable conversation with the Chamber and other community partners where he learned how the Chamber is integrating a friendly business climate through work-based learning models for students, teacher pipeline structures for future educators, and career navigating programs for the community.

The visit was featured in the San Antonio Express-News and a television newscast.

Friday – Performance Partnership Pilot, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Photo of Johan Uvin standing at podium speaking to a group of students and staff

Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin shares remarks with students and staff of the Greenville Superintendent’s Academy

On the last day of the #OpportunityTour, Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin and Deputy Under Secretary Kim Hunter Reed visited Greenville Superintendent’s Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to highlight the Administration’s commitment to make significant improvements for disconnected youth in educational, employment, and other key outcomes. The Baton Rouge Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) for Disconnected Youth program is a collaborative effort between the city and school district that focuses on disconnected youth ages 14-24 by offering catered programming at two schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS).

During the visit, Acting Assistant Secretary Uvin and Deputy Under Secretary Reed engaged students in a dialogue during a roundtable discussion about the services that the P3 program will provide and how it will address the needs of youth living in Baton Rouge. Students talked about their dreams and aspirations, but also about the obstacles to success they had to overcome. Other important issues discussed were the impact of the flooding, the recent unrest over racial issues and challenges with law enforcement, and the need to find solutions to end the gun violence and killings. Students made several suggestions to the Mayor and Superintendent to improve their schools and community.

The day ended with a community partnership roundtable where Deputy Under Secretary Reed led a broader discussion on current issues in her hometown of Baton Rouge, including many of the concerns the students raised. Ms. Gail Grover from the Mayor’s Office and Student Ambassador Benjamin Jenkins helped facilitate the discussions during the student and community roundtables.

Reflecting on the visit Acting Assistant Secretary Uvin said, “The students care so deeply about their community and called on all adults in the room to help find solutions to end violence in the community and expand education opportunities.” The U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, has formed a group to share information and coordinate a response to issues related to the Louisiana flooding.

Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, New Hampshire

Also on Friday, Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim R. Ford and Senior Policy Advisor David Soo visited College for America at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a leader in competency based education, distance learning, and employer engagement.

SNHU is also one of 44 institutions selected by the Department for the Federal Student Aid Dual Enrollment Pell Experiment. This three-year experiment will allow students taking college-credit courses to access Federal Pell Grants as early as high school. These programs can improve academic outcomes, lower costs and increase access to colleges and universities, especially for low-income students. Through the experiment, SNHU will offer its competency-based Associate of Arts in General Studies and will partner with several high schools.

Research consistently has shown that individuals with college degrees are more likely to live healthier lives, be more civically engaged in their communities, have good-paying jobs, and experience greater job security. SNHU and College for America are helping make more Americans enter and complete college by offering a wide range of degrees at an affordable price.

During the visit, Deputy Assistant Ford toured the traditional campus, which serves 3,000 students, and their online center serving 70,000 students across the country. College for America collaborates with over 100 businesses, nonprofits and governments to offer accredited associate and bachelor degrees that students earn online by mastering competencies through real-world projects.

Photo of tables arranged in a square with staff seated around the table

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim R. Ford and Senior Policy Advisor David Soo held a roundtable discussion on the College for America at Southern New Hampshire University

In the morning, a group of SNHU student ambassadors joined Deputy Assistant Ford for coffee and talked about why they chose to attend the traditional campus. Later in the day, Deputy Assistant Ford met with College for America students and learned how the competency-based programs are helping them gain college credits or workforce training to complete a degree at their own pace.

During a roundtable discussion with University and College administrators Deputy Assistant Ford said, “It is great to see how the innovative models at SNHU, such as online and competency-based programs, provide traditional and non-traditional students the opportunity to complete a college degree at a fraction of the typical cost. These models are allowing thousands of Americans the ability to pursue a college degree for the first time, as well as also complete a degree they might have started years before.”

OCTAE concludes its series of visits on the Opportunity Across America Tour—the seventh and final back-to-school bus tour of the Obama Administration that celebrated progress in education in communities and states across the country.

Celebrate International Literacy Day!

September 8 is International Literacy Day! UNESCO is celebrating the day under the banner “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”. International Literacy Day 2016 celebrates and honors the past five decades of national and international engagement, efforts and progress made to increase literacy rates around the world. It also addresses current challenges and looks to innovative solutions to further boost literacy in the future.

Teal poster with the number 50 created out of white reading objects and letters from various alphabets.

UNESCO Literacy Day 2016

Download the poster and follow along on Twitter with commemorations around the world, tagged with #LiteracyDay.

OCTAE salutes our 1.5 million adult education students, over 46,000 teachers, and over 9,000 tutors who made literacy a priority last year.

Get more facts about OCTAE’s programs in two new fact sheets: