WIOA Provides Opportunity for Partnership to Serve Out of School Youth

This blog is cross-posted from the WorkforceGPS site, see https://youth.workforcegps.org/blog/general/2017/01/18/15/08/EdLaborPartnership.  

WIOA places heightened emphasis on the alignment of programs that serve out-of-school youth in order to ensure they obtain the skills necessary to prepare for successful workforce participation and continued educational achievement.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law on July 22, 2014, presents a unique opportunity for collaboration among the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the U.S. Department of Education (ED), States, local workforce development areas, other workforce and education partners, as well as social service providers, in order to improve the lives of our nation’s out-of-school youth (OSY).  WIOA places heightened emphasis on the alignment of programs that serve out-of-school youth in order to ensure they obtain the skills necessary to prepare for successful workforce participation and continued educational achievement.

For many years, the adult education program, administered by ED and authorized under title II of WIOA, has reconnected older OSY with the educational system and equipped them with the foundational skills to pursue postsecondary education, training, and meaningful work.  The formula youth program, administered by DOL and authorized under title I of WIOA, requires that 75 percent of funds be used on services for OSY, which will assist young adults in obtaining the necessary skills, including high school diplomas, to prepare for and complete postsecondary education and training and achieve high levels of career readiness.  More than 5.5 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 without a high school diploma or an equivalent are neither in school nor employed.  By working together, State and local workforce and education partners can maximize the potential of these young adults through implementing evidence-based practices to support the successful achievement of their educational and career goals.

To facilitate these efforts, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education (Departments) are releasing a technical assistance document that:

  • provide strategies and examples of State and local partnerships that facilitate the reengagement of OSY;
  • support communities working with in-school youth in accordance with WIOA; and
  • address strategies for serving out-of-school English learners, current and former foster youth, and justice-involved youth.

Along with the technical assistance on OSY, additional documents may be distributed among all potential partners that serve youth and young adults.  The technical assistance documents are available:

The technical assistance provided in these documents offers a number of examples of ways in which different partners can work together to build career pathways that are a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and support services that align with local skill needs and prepare youth and young adults to be successful in secondary or postsecondary education programs and the labor market.

Ultimately, long-term success for OSY will require engagement beyond the scope of workforce and education agencies.  It takes the engagement of entire communities to catalyze change and create multiple pathways to facilitate education, career, and lifelong success.  These discussions, therefore, must include businesses, colleges and universities, State and district superintendents, teachers and other youth service providers, community-based organizations, local social service agencies, and families and youth themselves.

We hope this technical assistance series will support creative and impactful youth-focused strategies and be a resource in engaging these diverse partners in this important work.  Together we will strengthen our nation’s workforce by supporting the nation’s youth in graduating from secondary and postsecondary education programs, participating successfully in career pathways, and achieving their career goals.

Transitioning English Learners to Postsecondary Education

In 2000, Christine Vega Villarreal a high school senior in San Fernando, California, was still unsure of what she would do after high school. As a first generation student who grew up with immigrant parents from Mexico, she did not have the necessary tools and resources to support her as she considered her options. Likewise, her high school trajectory, due to “tracking,” did not provide Christine the support she needed while in high school. She faced marginalization due to her English Learner (EL) status and was placed in remedial courses. Christine struggled with meeting expectations regarding academic rigor, and found herself increasingly disengaged in class. She began to skip school. It was through the encouragement of her art teacher and classmates, and after many visits to the counselor’s office, that she was able to be placed in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. She struggled at first but eventually these AP courses made her re-engage fully.

Christine, Alfredo, and son, Janitzio

Christine Vega Villarreal with her partner Alfredo Huante, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California, and their son, Janitzio Huante-Vega.

Christine is a first-generation U.S. citizen. Much like many EL students who are U.S. citizens, immigrants and refugees, Christine faced linguistic and resource barriers that limited opportunities. EL students, in fact, tend to face opportunity and achievement gaps and experience lower college going rates. By the time EL students reach 12th grade most have the necessary English skills for daily life but many lack the language proficiency needed to succeed in college. This expected language proficiency deals with mastery of academic vocabulary, discourse style, formality, and complexity of syntax. To successfully transition EL students like Christine to postsecondary education and training, both secondary and postsecondary institutions must understand the unique challenges EL students face and increase their support mechanisms for EL students. Without this understanding and support, entry into postsecondary education might not result in successful completion.

You may wonder whether Christine’s experience is unique. Data tell us it is not.

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Summer: A Great Time to Talk about College

As we approach the end of summer, it is important to reflect on ways that we can all support students and families preparing to attend college next year. For the first time this fall, students are able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning on October 1st. This earlier date allows students to explore further financial aid options before most college’s deadlines. As a result, students will have more college options than in the past.

On average there are 482 high school students for every college counselor, each looking for their own set of advice in regards to the college application process. In addition to those students who have overworked counselors there are many youth and adults who are deciding to return to school and who lack access to free college counseling. For these reasons, in September 2015, the U.S. Department of Education redesigned the College Scorecard to provide the clearest, most accessible, and most reliable national data on college cost, graduation, debt, and post-college earnings. This tool was improved with feedback from students, families, and counselors to help ensure that families and future postsecondary students make the most informed decisions when choosing a college.

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Leveraging Local Partnerships to Support Immigrant Integration

June is Immigrant Heritage Month. In recognition of the work the adult education community is doing to support the diverse linguistic and cultural assets of immigrants, OCTAE is featuring the following blog by Nancy Fritz, Assistant Coordinator at the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative.

My journey in adult education began in 1986 when I signed up as an adult literacy volunteer with Literacy Volunteers of America. With a longstanding interest in languages and having previously taught high school civics and history, I immediately loved it and I knew I wanted to work on the field of adult education and enrolled in some graduate classes. Like many ESOL instructors, I pieced together my work through part-time positions for several adult education agencies including at a public library.  Luckily, I was able to obtain a full-time position at one agency as a teacher and then as an Education Director.

For the past 4 years, I have worked for the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative (RIFLI). RIFLI was founded sixteen years ago when libraries began receiving increasing requests from recent immigrants for English as a Second Language (ESL) services. The Providence Public Library (PPL) responded by implementing a family literacy program at one branch library. The program has grown significantly since then and RIFLI now provides classes in six library systems, in the public schools to the parents of children, in businesses for employees, and in our local One Stop employment center.  We offer ESL, Citizenship, Digital Literacy, Transition to College and Career, Math, and Conversation classes.  RIFLI serves approximately 300 adults per year.

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Serving English Language Learners

OCTAE is proud that our CTE, adult education, and community college programs serve many English language learners and help them achieve academic, career, and community integration success. We also recognize the important role that improving English proficiency plays in immigrant and refugee families, contributing to the academic and career success of two or more generations. We encourage all of our providers to make use of these new tools and guidance.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance reminding states, school districts, and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.

In addition to the guidance, the Departments also released additional tools and resources to help schools in serving English learner students and parents with limited English proficiency:

*   A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools’ obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students can participate meaningfully and equally in school.

*   A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools’ obligations under federal law to communicate information to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand.

*   A toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students, prepared by the Education Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition. This is the first chapter in a series of chapters to help state education agencies and school districts meet their obligations to English learner students.

This is the first time that a single piece of guidance has addressed the array of federal laws that govern schools’ obligations to English learners. The guidance recognizes the recent milestone 40th anniversaries of Lau v. Nichols and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), as well as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOA, similar to Lau, requires public schools to take appropriate action to help English learner students overcome language barriers and ensure their ability to participate equally in school.

The guidance explains schools’ obligations to:

*   identify English learner students in a timely, valid and reliable manner;

*   offer all English learner students an educationally sound language assistance program;

*   provide qualified staff and sufficient resources for instructing English learner students;

*   ensure English learner students have equitable access to school programs and activities

*   avoid unnecessary segregation of English learner students from other students;

*   monitor students’ progress in learning English and doing grade-level classwork;

*   remedy any academic deficits English learner students incurred while in a language assistance program;

*   move students out of language assistance programs when they are proficient in English and monitor those students to ensure they were not prematurely removed;

*   evaluate the effectiveness of English learner programs; and

*   provide limited English proficient parents with information about school programs, services, and activities in a language they understand.

Immigrant Integration Project: Call for Applications

UPDATE: Preliminary applications are due December 20! Here is a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the process and eligibility criteria.

The preliminary application process for the Networks for Integrating New Americans project has begun! This is a national initiative to advance immigrant integration through technical assistance. Learn more in the project’s fact sheet.

The project will select up to five forward-thinking community networks (also coalitions or initiatives) to receive technical assistance to address the linguistic, civic, and economic needs of immigrant adults. Organizational networks are key to this project because when organizations in both immigrant and receiving communities collaborate on immigrant integration, both communities contribute unique strengths and better address common needs.

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Get the Facts on Adult English Language Programs

Did you know adult English language learners nationally make up 40 percent of the adult education population served? Which states have the highest percentage of English as a second language (ESL) students? Did you know the majority of adult ESL students are between 25 and 44 years old? See a new fact sheet providing details of the student demographics in adult ESL programs, the progress they are making, and the allocations that support their education.

Get more updates on the activities funded by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) national leadership funds here.

Pre-solicitation for Improving Adult English Language Instruction

UPDATE: The PWS has been released. Proposals are due June 14, 2013. Questions are due May 21, 2013 noon EST. Please find all materials on the FedBizOpps site by searching for the solicitation number ED-VAE-13-R-0025.

OVAE is seeking a company to execute a new initiative designed to contribute to the Department’s ongoing efforts toward building teacher effectiveness by supporting state-based teacher professional development and training efforts through the provision of high quality, on-demand, evidence-based instructional support for teachers of adult learners who are learning English. Find all materials on the FedBizOpps site by searching for the solicitation number ED-VAE-13-R-0025. Sign up at the site to stay informed.

This new three-year initiative will build on, and extend, OVAE’s previous investments to improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of teachers working with adult ELLs by providing collaborative, evidence-based, and technology-enhanced professional development opportunities.

It is anticipated that an unrestricted full and open competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) will be available on May 13, 2013. All responsible sources may submit a proposal which the agency shall consider. A contract with a base year plus two, twelve- month option years is anticipated. The award date for the procurement is planned to occur no later than August 28, 2013.

USCIS Grant Opportunity for Adult ESL and Civics

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services published a new grant opportunity for up to $250,000 over a two year performance period. Eligible organizations include non-profit or public organizations that have experience providing ESL and citizenship instruction to adults. More information about the program can be found at: www.uscis.gov/grants.

USCIS is hosting a stakeholder engagement call on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 from 2:00pm to 3:30pm (Eastern) regarding the Fiscal Year 2013 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program.  The purpose of this meeting is to collect questions and make clarifications, where possible, regarding the grant program application requirements and application process.

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In the TESOL Spotlight: Adult English Language Learners

The adult English language learner population is the largest sub-population of adult education students, accounting for over 40% of students in the federally-funded adult education system are in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. With the announcement of the Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy last year for youth up to age 30 and the growing momentum on comprehensive immigration reform, the issue of English language proficiency among adult immigrants has entered the national conversation. Adult language learning issues also featured prominently at at last week’s Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) annual conference in Dallas, TX. This international conference draws over 6,000 educators, dedicated to the teaching of English across the lifespan. For over a decade, TESOL has been a critical professional network partner for OVAE, assisting in information dissemination and implementation support for educators.

While at the conference, OVAE’s Dr. Debra Suarez co-presented at the U.S. Department of Education policy update session along with the Office of English Language Acquisition, represented by Dr. Joanne Urrutia; and the Office of Early Learning, represented by Mr. Steven Hicks. This session demonstrated the Department’s commitment to collaborate across Offices and initiatives to address the needs of English language learners of all ages, to more fully engage immigrant parents, and to support families’ language learning efforts.

Dr. Suarez also presented at “National and State Initiatives in Adult ESL,” a session that showcased how state adult education systems are strengthening their professional development efforts to improve instructional quality, in part by integrating OVAE-funded resources such as those offered through OVAE’s ELL-U project. Co-presenting with Suarez were Karen Brown, Director for Professional Development and Instructional Support at North Carolina Community College System, North Carolina; Kimberly Johnson, Director of the Adult Basic Education Teaching and Learning Advancement System (ATLAS) Center at Hamline University, Minnesota; and Donna Kinerney, Dean for Instruction for Adult ESOL & Literacy Programs at Montgomery College, Maryland.

Dr. Suarez attended other events at the conference, including the Adult Education Special Interest Group and sessions devoted to adult English learning. Hot topics at the conference included for adult ESL educators included strengthening the academic readiness for adult English language learners, emergent literacy, the perceived shift toward more youth in the adult ESL population, leveraging resources and partnerships, and focusing on a research agenda specifically for adult ESL students.