Poverty Reduction is the Theme at AERA 2013

Education can play a critical role in individuals’ lives to set them on a track toward economic stability. This theme was discussed in multiple panel and symposium sessions at the American Educational Research Association this past week in San Francisco. Gathered here are some reflections from researchers working at the intersection of youth and adult education programming and poverty reduction.

Student voices from graduates of youth leadership All Stars Project in the San Francisco Bay Area informed a panel interview led by educational reporter Claudio Sanchez of National Public Radio. The young people, who all came from families in poverty, discussed how important the supplementary, out-of-school experience was to open themselves to new interests and passions. Two of the young women reported that they received a strong head start in their postsecondary education from dual enrollment courses offered through their public high school. Sanchez summed up his talk with a positive note about the unique American educational system of second and third chances that offer ways back in for youth and adults.

In the Adult Education Special Interest Group meeting on April 27, researchers Steve Reder, Portland State University, and Cris Smith, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, discussed the long lasting – if slow revealing – impacts of participation in adult education on adults’ work prospects and further education, underscoring the need for longitudinal research that can persist long enough to capture delayed impacts and transformations.

A session entitled Second Chance Pathways to Postsecondary Education presented research on initiatives underway in New York City. Kate Dempsey from the Mayor’s Office’s Center for Economic Opportunity described the anti-poverty agenda that focuses on disconnected youth in the city.  From evaluations of multiple initiatives, the Center found three effective elements: employment, education, and case management for the youth.  Margeurite Lukes described research and programming offered to incoming adult students that are helping more adult education students transfer to credit-bearing courses at CUNY LaGuardia Community College. This work is being evaluated by MDRC; the findings will be released shortly and shared at the Annual State Directors of Adult Education Meeting in May.