in the Field of Immigrant Adult Education and Workforce Training |
in order of publication date with the most recent on top. Scroll down for all entries. Selection does not necessarily imply
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The ability to understand, speak, read, and write English as the nation’s common language
is crucial to the successful integration of immigrants into our society. Without English, immigrants are often locked into
low wage jobs, blocked from acquiring new skills and new jobs, denied equal access to health and other
services, and shut off from contact with the larger society. Vocational and post-secondary educational opportunities
also enable immigrants and their children to realize their full potential. These resources cover the topics of immigrant adult
education and workforce training.
ABSTRACTS AND LINKS
The Skills and Economic Outcomes of Immigrant and U.S.-Born College
Migration Policy Institute, December 2022, 7 pp.
Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix
Approximately two million college-educated immigrants were unemployed in 2019
or worked in jobs that only require a high school degree. In a fact sheet from the Migration Policy Institute entitled The
Skills and Economic Outcomes of Immigrant and U.S.-Born College Graduates, the authors argue that these workers have
the skills and credentials that could help meet the needs of a struggling U.S. labor market. Drawing upon data from a survey
conducted by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, the authors found that fifty-one percent
of immigrant graduates have degrees in the high-demand STEM and health fields. Moreover, employed immigrant graduates reported
having higher monthly earnings than U.S.-born workers, likely because more of them majored in STEM fields and earned advanced
degrees. While the rate of skill underutilization is the same for both immigrants and U.S. born- graduates, immigrants with
low literacy, numeracy and digital levels were four times more likely than those with high scores to see their skills underutilized
(45% vs 11%). The authors suggest that efforts to solve the immigrant
“brain waste” problem by improving foundational skills could also benefit the U.S.-born population. (The Immigrant
Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Diverging Pathways: Immigrants’ Legal Status and Access to
Migration Policy Institute, October 2022, 23 pp.
Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix
Of the 115.3 million adults in the U.S. aged 16 to 64 who as of 2019 did not
have a college degree or apprenticeship certificate, 23.9 million (21 percent) were immigrants. In this issue brief for the
Migration Policy Institute, entitled “Diverging Pathways: Immigrants’ Legal Status and Access to Postsecondary
Credentials,” Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix argue that today’s labor shortage challenges require maximized
use of our available workforce, and that immigrants could help fill these gaps in the labor force, expand local economies,
add to local tax revenues, and “serve the larger goal of promoting greater equity on the part of state and local education
and training programs.” Looking at Census Bureau data, the authors found that 66 percent of immigrants without degrees,
certificates or licenses (15.8 million out of 23.9 million) were eligible to participate in key federal and state educational
programs designed to help people acquire occupational credentials. Their eligibility is connected to their legal status as
naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, or work-authorized immigrants admitted to the U.S. for humanitarian purposes.
On the other hand, 7.7 million immigrants without degrees, certificates or licenses face additional challenges because of
their unauthorized status. Batalova and Fix suggest legislative proposals to make unauthorized immigrants who have both protection
from deportation and work authorization eligible for federal and state programs in order to close these labor gaps and support
their upward mobility. At the same time, program managers need to address some of the special barriers, e.g. limited
English proficiency, that discourage immigrants as a whole from participating in post-secondary educational programs. (The
Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Building the New High Road: Immigrants & Workforce Development,
The Project on Workforce, Harvard Kennedy School, September
27, 2022, 17 pp.
Authors: Mark Dolan et al
As the U.S. workforce continues to age, immigrants play an increasingly
important role in meeting skill needs in strategic sectors of the U.S. economy, including healthcare, transportation, manufacturing,
farming, education, and food services. At the same time, many immigrants in the U.S. lack access to key workforce development
and career advancement supports. This brief seeks to better understand the landscape of programs, policies, and practices
intended to strengthen immigrant inclusion in the workforce. The report draws on data from 131 applicants to the Mariam Assefa
fund of World Education Services. In 2021, the Fund sponsored an open grant competition for programs working to improve employer
practices and develop effective career pathways for immigrants and refugees. The findings present a mixed picture. The programs
studied, most of them run by relatively small nonprofits, are more likely to focus on newly-arrived immigrants than longer
term residents and work mainly with economic migrants and refugees. While most programs plan to work with employers, only
one quarter have direct hiring relationships. Most work outside the traditional secondary or postsecondary education system,
and focus on skills to enter the labor market rather than advance in it. At the same time, job quality is an increasing priority
for a majority of the organizations, with a focus on increasing wages, career advancement, and inclusive workplace environments.
The report also identifies areas where there is a need for new models and investment. These include transferability of skills
and credentials, more work-integrated learning, career mobility, educational partnerships, and expanding programs in geographic
regions with large groups of new arrivals. Finally, the report notes the lack of system-wide evidence as to which models work
and why, and calls for new research into which approaches lead to effective workforce outcomes for immigrant populations and
meaningful change in employer practices. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)
The Importance of Skills and Qualifications for College-Educated
Immigrants’ Economic Integration,
Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies
(PIACC), August 2022, 25 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix
Using combined data from the 2012,
2014, and 2017 PIAAC surveys, this study by researchers at the Migration Policy Institute looks at the progress of immigrant
college graduates’ economic integration in the U.S., probing the relationship between economic outcomes and literacy,
numeracy, and digital skills. Although U.S. immigrants' education levels have been rising in the past decade, this trend has
not always translated into occupational gains. The study does find that immigrants are overrepresented among college-educated
adults relative to their share of the U.S. population (17% vs. 14%), are more likely to hold advanced degrees, and are more
likely to have degrees in STEM and health fields. Full-time college-educated immigrant workers in fact have higher monthly
earnings ($7,140) than U.S. born workers ($6,500). At the same time, many immigrant college graduates experience high levels
of skill underutilization, working in low-skilled jobs or remaining unemployed, especially those with degrees from outside
the U.S. The PIACC data also show that immigrants’ economic outcomes are particularly sensitive to English proficiency
levels, with immigrants with low literacy levels four times more likely to be underutilized than those with high scores. This
is a particular challenge for immigrants with degrees from abroad, whose scores across all skill domains lag behind those
of U.S.-educated immigrants. Regression analysis showed higher spoken English proficiency among all college-educated immigrants
strongly associated with better economic outcomes. In an era of shortages of skilled workers, the authors conclude, policies
that help boost English language skills among this population can remove a major obstacle to their economic mobility. (Jeffrey
The IELCE Program: Understanding Its Design and
Challenges in Meeting Immigrant Learners’ Needs,
Migration Policy Institute, February 2022,
Authors: Jacob Hofstetter & Alexis Cherewka
This in-depth study looks at the impact of the Integrated
English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) program, established under the reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and
Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014. Compared to earlier programs, IELCE has an increased focus on participant’s employment
outcomes, requiring programs to provide offerings utilizing Integrated Education and Training (IET), combining English, civics,
workforce preparation, and workforce training into a program that is contextualized, concurrent, and leads to a recognized
credential and/or employment. While implementation of IELCE has led to the development of many innovative programs across
the country, the reach of these programs, and especially their IET component, has been hampered by barriers to participation
and low enrollment. Drawing on federal and state data as well as stakeholder interviews across eight states, the study offers
a number of key findings. These include the low share of students in IET programs (just 10% of total IELCE enrollment), high
entry requirements (advanced English proficiency, a high school diploma, and work authorization), limited demand due to time
and financial constraints of potential participants, the wide range of program designs across states combined with confusion
about IELCE requirements, and implementation challenges (including low enrollment, the resource-intensive nature of IET activities,
and difficulties in forming workforce partnerships). These factors have limited the potential of some adult education providers
to offer such services. With WIOA coming up for reauthorization, the study offers detailed recommendations to accommodate
a more flexible, equity-driven approach encouraging higher participation and more sustainable programming. These include better
supporting immigrants with lower levels of education and English proficiency and providing clearer and more flexible standards
and outcome measures for IET programs. The study also asks federal and state policy makers to consider whether IELCE and WIOA
more broadly limit adult education providers’ ability to offer effective services, calling on policy makers to develop
new, or expand existing, funding streams and programmatic opportunities to support immigrants’ integration needs. (Jeffrey
Remote Adult ESOL Case Studies,
EdTech, World Education, 2021, 47 pp.
by World Education, as part of its Remote Adult ESOL Project, this report highlights eight separate programs in the U.S. that
support remote ESOL learning. The goal of the project is to help scale ESOL programs in different contexts by documenting
and disseminating viable models and practices. Data for this report was gathered during the winter and spring of 2021, as
the project focused on ESOL programs’ and learners’ needs that heavily rely on remote tools and strategies. The
eight case studies are supplemented by three additional resources:
A) The Transformation of ADULT ESOL: A Practice and Policy Brief;
B) Creating Equitable Access to Remote ESOL, a cross-case analysis of remote adult ESOL delivery through the lens of the varied organizational settings in which
they operate and the supports needed to engage distinct ESOL populations; and
C) Promising Practices for Adult Remote ESL, a document that highlights specific practices and innovations
of selected, nominated programs from onboarding to instruction, digital skills development, and student and teacher supports.
The project is guided by its goal of meeting the unmet and possible new demand
for U.S. citizenship prompted by the English language requirements under various immigration reform proposals. (Stephanie
Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Engaging Immigrant Talent Toolkit,
Center for New Pennsylvanians, July 2021, 36 pp.
This Toolkit from the Philadelphia-based
Welcoming Center, an organization committed to the economic integration of immigrants, is intended to help businesses and
organizations build a more inclusive and culturally competent workforce. Developed for the Center by the Junkin Group, LLC,
the Toolkit marks the culmination of an 18-month research study focused on best practices for immigrant integration in the
workplace. The study draws on an extensive literature review, as well as interviews and focus groups with business executives,
HR directors and managers, workforce development practitioners, and immigrants themselves. The study identified a range of
integration barriers including lack of access to career guidance and professional networks; discrimination based on race,
ethnicity, English proficiency, and immigration status; biased job application processes; and workplace sources of job dissatisfaction
and disengagement. Presenting cultural
competence not as a “product” but as an ongoing and iterative “process,” the Toolkit offers a three
stage model starting with “Awareness” (building awareness of barriers and cultural differences, committing resources,
equipping coworkers to learn and share), followed by “Responsibility” (reflecting on individual actions and empathizing
with coworkers, creating an environment for safe and candid conversations, setting clear boundaries and expectations, committing
time and resources, and “disrupting structural reluctance”), and finally “Accountability” (evaluating
practices, encouraging honest feedback, examining policies). For each stage of this process, the Toolkit provides a clearly
structured implementation flowchart and practice guidelines. These include sample workplace scenarios leading to reflection
and proposals for action, for use individually or in small groups, with a focus on interviews, job postings, workplace culture
sharing, and employee retention and promotion. The Toolkit notes that it offers no prescriptive solutions, and that it is
designed to encourage “those who work in organizations to be uncomfortable and through that discomfort to seek an opportunity
of change”, recommending a pre- and post-assessment of culturally competent practices to better evaluate organizational
progress towards this goal. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)
A Different Way: Reorienting Adult Education Toward
Democracy and Social Justice,
April 2021, 22 pp.
Author: Paul Jurmo
from a wide range of institutional perspectives and educational frameworks, this white paper by a long-time adult educator
and activist explores how adult basic education in the U.S. has often been seen as a tool for advancing democracy and social
justice and addressing community needs. The paper traces the evolution of arguments and programs supporting this approach
along three dimensions, the first focusing on critical thinking and action related to learner and community needs, the second
supporting evidence-driven system change, and the third emphasizing working in partnership with other adult basic education
stakeholders. Through historical examples of ways that adult education has responded to various forms of racial, social and
economic injustice – from the Civil War to the civil rights era to today – the paper identifies strategies educators
have used to empower learners to mitigate the impacts of social injustices, navigate around those impacts, eliminate unjust
policies and social practices, and create alternative ways of working that support social justice. While trends in adult education
in the past two decades have prioritized college and career pathways over the family and civic needs of participants, the
author describes recent efforts like the National Coalition for Literacy and the Open Door Collective that have supported
a more comprehensive vision for the field, especially in the face of recent developments such as COVID-19 and a growing awareness
of the impact of systemic racism and income inequality. Noting that adult basic education in the U.S. is at a critical decision
point, the paper concludes with detailed recommendations for a system more responsive to learners’ work, family, civic,
and lifelong-learning needs. These include taking a more comprehensive view of the multiple “intersectional” challenges
learners face, and adapting strategies from collaborative adult education, organizational development, community organizing,
and diverse social justice efforts when planning, implementing and strengthening social-justice-oriented supports for adult
learners. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)
Strengthening Training and Advancement of Essential Workers in Low-Wage Jobs: Recommended Actions
Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, Georgetown
February 2021, 9 pp.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an economic
and health toll on many essential workers, especially immigrant workers and low- or minimum-wage workers. Immigrants and refugees
perform a large amount of essential work. The Beeck Center, with support from the Mariam Assefa Fund of World Education Services,
conducted a year-long study in order to identify strategies to enhance economic mobility and upskilling for immigrant and
refugee workers. In preparing the report, researchers consulted with experts in workforce training, immigration integration,
and finance to identify shortcomings in existing workforce development programs. The report targets its recommendations at
two major groups with the aim of generating capital and investments that would accelerate the participation of stakeholders
to fund refugee and immigrant workforce development. First, the report highlights the importance of grantmakers in funding
research and data collection to build the knowledge base and capital structures required for effective programming, as well
as by supporting pilot projects that provide training and other scaffolding services for immigrant and refugee workers. Second,
the report emphasizes the role of impact investors (stakeholders that use their capital to have targeted impact) on, for instance,
the workforce development of low-income groups. The authors recommend that these investors finance organizations that disburse
debt capital to low-income communities in order to create borrower-friendly financing mechanisms through which workers can
access educational and training programs. By identifying concrete policy recommendations, the report offers practical strategies
to address the financial vulnerability of immigrant and refugee workers compounded by their role as “essential”
employees so that they may access higher-paying jobs that can withstand any future instability in the U.S. economy. (Sonali Ravi for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
There are no Hard-to-Serve Learners, Only Ill-Served
Adult Literacy Education, Winter 2021, 5
Author: Erik Jacobson
Adult learners who face barriers such as incarceration, homelessness, and low
levels of English, are often classified as hard-to-serve, but the author of this paper suggests that the term creates an invidious
comparison with an imagined group of easy-to-serve learners. Moreover, the term is “tautological” in nature, as
the purpose of adult education programs is precisely to serve people with barriers of this type. Although the Workforce Investment
and Opportunity Act (WIOA) effectively describes all the barriers facing these learners, it fails to explain why these learners
are harder-to-serve than others. Highlighting the disability rights movement, the author expounds on how the term hard-to-serve
distracts from systemic adult education issues, such as incarceration and homelessness. The article further suggests that
WIOA’s focus on the learner as the issue, rather than the learner’s environment, is problematic. He suggests that
an overall change in terminology from hard-to-serve to ill-served, would help not only to place these barriers in a larger
context, but also to prioritize the importance of systemic change. To be effective in their work, adult educators need to
pay attention to the particular oppressions learners may face. (Stephanie Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s
Public Education Institute)
Ending DACA Would Limit Access to Higher Education
in Ten States,
Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, June 29, 2020, 6 pp.
Authors: Christian Penichet-Paul & Ivana Lopez-Espinoa
An attempt by the Trump administration to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has put
more than 39,300 DACA recipients and thousands of DACA-eligible individuals at risk of losing access to higher education.
Nationally, DACA affords nearly 650,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children protection from deportation
and the ability to work legally in the U.S. This report explores the educational ramifications of ending DACA in states with
restrictive college enrollment policies. The report notes that state policies on access to higher education for undocumented
students and DACA recipients can be categorized into seven distinct policy environments from the most generous to the most
restrictive. At least ten states with restrictive policies (Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts,
Mississippi, Ohio and South Carolina) would bar DACA recipients from receiving in-state tuition if the program were rescinded,
effectively blocking them from access to higher education. In a 2019 survey, 93 percent of DACA recipients indicated they
would not be able to pursue higher education without the benefits conferred by DACA. The authors highlight the vital role
of states as advocates for DACA recipients, suggesting states implement policies providing DACA recipients with access to
in-state tuition and state financial aid. The report underscores that a permanent solution is needed and that, at the federal
level, passing legislation swiftly, as well as repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility
Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), are crucial steps in enabling undocumented students to retain access to higher education. (Stephanie Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Migration Policy Institute, September 3, 2020,
Author: Alex Cherewka
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the digital divide between
immigrants and U.S.-born people, i.e. the gulf between those who have ready access to computers and the internet and those
who do not. The Migration Policy Institute’s article “The Digital Divide Hits U.S. Immigrant Households
Disproportionately during the COVID-19 Pandemic” utilizes available data sources such as the Program
for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and the Pew Research Center to show that just 12 percent
of the non-English-speaking foreign-born had high levels of digital proficiency and access to digital tools
compared to 36 percent of the U.S.-born. It found that one-tenth of families headed by Hispanic immigrants had no
access to the internet in 2016, twice the rate of non-Hispanic White residents, and that “fragmented knowledge”
may allow immigrants to perform some everyday digital tasks, like pay bills, but could restrict them from developing
deeper skills required for a range of functions, like filling out an application form. Among children, the article found
that children of Hispanic immigrants were 18 percent less likely to have a computer in the home compared to children of U.S.-born
Hispanics, and that immigrant Latino families were more likely than native-born Latinos to report needing one-on-one tutoring during
the pandemic. The article laments that national policies do not appear to be addressing the disproportionate
impact of the digital divide on immigrants. It’s important for government to recognize that the digital divide,
if not bridged, will limit the access of immigrant families to employment, education, relationship-maintenance and health
care. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Amplifying Impact: How policies that combine investment
in English language skills with digital learning pay off for workers and businesses,
Skills Coalition, June 2020, 11 pp.
Author: Amanda Bergson-Shilcock
begins by noting the persistent need to provide appropriate support for adults who need to improve their English skills along
with their ability to use digital technology. Adults with limited digital skills have a harder time accessing English or vocational
support online, a situation made worse by the pandemic. The report presents examples of programs that have developed models
of instructional delivery that are well suited to current conditions. This includes projects in California, Washington and
Virginia, as well as national efforts. In each case, the review suggests that programs are most effective when they take into
account both the digital resources learners have access to and the specific vocational needs of adult learners. For example,
a number of the projects rely on the use of flip-phones rather than smart phones due to the cost associated with data plans.
Sponsors of these programs developed their educational content in collaboration with employers, and devoted much attention
to job skill improvements in sectors like housekeeping, customer service and health care. Because the programs are designed
for specific types of employment, the author suggests that standardized tests might not be the most accurate way to evaluate
their effectiveness. In addition, the author explains that access to these types of resources is limited by persistent racial
equity gaps, which means that addressing the needs of adults is not simply a matter of a technology fix. For that reason,
the author calls for a significant expansion in public investment, beyond what is currently provided by the Workforce Innovation
and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Higher Education Act (HEA). (Erik Jacobson, Montclair
All Together Now: Supporting Immigrants and Refugees Through Collaboration,
Adult Literacy Education, Spring 2020, 7 pp.
Authors: Jen Vanek et al
Although adult education and literacy programs provide critical skills development
and social supports to new immigrants and refugees, these programs, operating in isolation, cannot address the full range
of needs among newcomers. When collaboration with advocacy organizations and social service agencies occurs, crucial gaps
in the service infrastructure can be filled, helping to advance the economic and civic integration of newcomers. Such
collaboration is particularly important for lower level English language learners whose needs may not receive sufficient attention
in federal funding formulas. “All Together Now: Supporting Immigrants and Refugees Through Collaboration, Adult Literacy
Education” in the Adult Literacy Education Journal lays out examples of inter-agency collaborations in Minnesota, New
York, California and Washington state, and offers recommendations at the local, state and federal levels that support the
integration of new Americans. This essay grew out of the work of the Open Door Collective, currently a program of Literacy
Minnesota, which brings together volunteer professionals from all over the United States who believe that adult education
programs can be a powerful tool to reduce poverty in the United States. (Clare Maxwell for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Immigrants Learn English: Immigrants’ Language Acquisition Rates by Country of Origin and Demographics
Cato Institute, September 17, 2019, 5 pp.
Current U.S. immigrants have greater English language
competency as compared to previous immigrant populations. Using decennial U.S. Census data from 1900-1930 compared to 1980-2010,
Michelangelo Landgrave for the Cato Institute compares English fluency for foreign-born residents in each period and reports
the results in “Immigrants Learn English: Immigrants’ Language Acquisition
Rates by Country of Origin and Demographics since 1900.” Approximately 91 percent
of immigrants living in the U.S. from 1980 to 2010 spoke English, compared to 86 percent of immigrants from 1900 to 1930.
There is some historical discrepancy between the two sets of data; the census questions for 1900 to 1930 simply asked “know
English” or “don’t know English,” whereas the 1980-2010 census questions employed a three-point proficiency
scale, describing language acquisition as “speaks [English] very well,” “speaks [English] well,” and
“speaks [English] but not well.” Landgrave’s analysis collapses the three-point proficiency responses
into a single “knows English” for historic comparison. Interviewer effects and differing reference points may
also have affected the more recent set of data, but this analysis suggests that English language acquisition has improved
among U.S. immigrants in the past 100 years. (Samantha Jones for The Immigrant Learning
Center’s Public Education Institute)
How California’s Workforce Development System Excludes Immigrants, Why It Matters, and What We
Can Do About It,
Scholars Strategy Network, September 2019, 4 pp.
Kevin Lee (Mass. Institute of Technology)
This brief presents an overview
of structural and systemic issues with California’s workforce development system that limit participation of certain
populations, including immigrants. In addition to “creaming,” where a program prioritizes providing services to
those clients most likely to have a positive outcome quickly, the author suggests a number of other problems are built into
the current system. Based on 27 interviews with staff from 19 workforce development non-profits, he believes programs that
provide services to immigrants with limited English proficiency or without work authorization are not as connected as other
workforce development providers to networks of employers who can provide jobs. Interviewees also criticized limited funding
for administrative costs, the burden of paperwork and the impact of narrow performance metrics. The author highlights promising
alternative models of workforce development programs that focus on particular marginalized populations, but concludes that
without being better integrated into the broader network of providers and employers they will have a limited impact. The paper
concludes with several policy recommendations, including the use of new types of accountability rubrics. For example, the
author suggests that program evaluations should be based on client employability (a measure of how ready for work they are)
instead of employment, which is out of the control of the program itself. He also argues that programs should be held accountable
for how well they promote equity, which would include being evaluated for their advocacy and organizing efforts. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
The Long-Term Impact of DACA: Forging Futures Despite DACA’s Uncertainty
Immigration Initiative at Harvard, National UnDACAmented Research Project, 2019, 45
Authors: Roberto G. Gonzalez et al
This report presents results from
the UnDACAmented Research Project, which examined how young people have experienced their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) status, which provides temporary status and work authorization. The research is based on sustained contact with 408
DACA recipients in six states from 2013 through 2019. It details both the opportunities that DACA has provided to young people
in the United States and the remaining obstacles that beneficiaries and their families face. DACA beneficiaries have greater
opportunities for social mobility, especially through access to higher education. Gaining confidence to succeed in high school,
they are able to go on to community college, 4-year colleges, licensure programs, and graduate and professional schools. These
opportunities have in turn allowed them to gain professional employment and thus independence while also supporting their
often undocumented family members. They are healthier, both physically and mentally, as access to health care and some alleviation
from anxiety come with DACA status. These benefits, however, still vary by state, as some states do not allow recipients to
attend universities at in-state tuition rates and some do not allow them to obtain professional licenses. DACA recipients
continue to experience uncertainty, especially in the current state of limbo as the program awaits a Supreme Court judgment,
causing anxiety surrounding not only their families’ status but their own vulnerability to deportation. Overall, the
study affirms the many positive results of the DACA program and makes recommendations to address the limits that still remain. (Karen D. Caplan, Ph.D., Rutgers University -- Newark)
Upskilling New Americans: Innovative English Training for Career Advancement,
National Immigration Forum, November 13, 2019, 28 pp.
Authors: Jennie Murray & Ana Negoescu
The purpose of this
paper is to share promising practices and lessons learned from the National Immigration Forum’s (Forum) Skills and Opportunity
for the New American Workforce (SONAW) project, an industry-contextualized, English language training program designed to
be replicable and scalable in a variety of settings. The program is the product of a partnership between Miami-Dade Community
College, which develops the curriculum along with experts at the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education; and
World Education, which provides advice on technology solutions. Community colleges and nonprofit organizations provide instructors.
The Forum recruits employers willing to provide the benefit for their workers. The prototype was tested in the retail context,
with major grocery chains. The program consists of 40 percent in-person classroom instruction and 60 percent online, self-paced
learning. The report goes into great detail about lessons learned and how the program evolved in response to those lessons.
For example, the technology platform was changed to allow for more customization and greater scale. The curriculum was modified
to include a stronger digital literacy component, so that it could be delivered by mobile device to accommodate those without
computers or internet service. The program is being constantly monitored by an outside evaluator, which has allowed for quick
changes as problems are identified. Thus far, the program has been customized for retail, manufacturing, ride-sharing, and
other industries with more than 400 participating employers. Funding for the program is also evolving to allow for scale;
going forward, employer partners will pay for the training of their workers, while the Forum will continue to rely on philanthropy
to support the program’s continued evolution and promotion. With SONAW, the Forum has created a program in which participants
have a very high completion rate, and achieve language gains at rates double the national average for similar programs. Managers
report greater self-confidence in their workers, higher productivity, and better customer interactions. There is some evidence
of lower worker turnover for companies. Nearly all managers say they would recommend the program to other employers. (Maurice
Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
Credentials for the Future: Mapping the Potential for Immigrant-Origin Adults in the United States,
Migration Policy Institute, March 2019, 32 pp.
Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix
This paper examines characteristics
of the immigrant-origin adult population (the foreign-born and their U.S.-born children), focusing on the subset of 30 million
immigrants who lack post-secondary credentials and who are not in school. The report breaks down this population by age group,
English language ability, state of residence, racial characteristics, and immigration status. The authors then analyze the
effects of having a non-degree credential — such as a professional certificate or occupational license — on labor-force
participation, unemployment, and wages. As one would expect, persons with non-degree credentials, regardless of education,
have higher labor force participation, lower unemployment, and higher wages. The paper concludes with a section on policy
implications. Given that immigrants and their children will account for nearly all future labor force growth, the authors
stress that helping a significant share of these 30 million immigrant-origin adults obtain credentials will be a crucial component
of meeting state and national workforce training goals. The special needs of this population include workforce training linked
to English language learning, and obtaining legal status. The report mentions policy changes at the federal, state, and local
level to facilitate the incorporation of these individuals into the workforce. At the same time, Trump administration policies
— including the drastic cuts in refugee admissions that are hollowing out resettlement infrastructure and the effort
to change the “public charge” regulations to eliminate supports that immigrant-origin adults rely on while completing
education or workforce training — will make it more difficult for the nation to meet its workforce needs. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
Immigrant-Origin Adults without Postsecondary Credentials: A 50-State Profile,
Migration Policy Institute, March 2019, 14 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix
Why are immigrant-origin adults, i.e. immigrant and their U.S.-born children, without post-secondary credentials an important
segment of the U.S. workforce and a group deserving special attention by policymakers and workforce practitioners? This fact
sheet attempts to answer this question. Not only are they a large segment of the workforce (currently 30 million of the 100
million U.S. adults without post-secondary credentials), they will likely be the main source of new U.S. workers in the years
ahead. The fact sheet provides a state-level profile of these 30 million adults, focusing on key characteristics that need
to be taken into consideration in designing appropriate upskilling initiatives. In looking at where investments might produce
the greatest gains, the authors focus on states with the largest numbers of such adults, as well as states with the largest
percentages. For example, in 2017, nearly 19 million, or 63 percent of the 30 million immigrant-origin adults without post-secondary
credentials were living in just six states: California, Florida, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey. In 14
states, the immigrant-origin share of adults without post-secondary credentials exceeded the national average of 30 percent,
with California being the highest at 58 percent. The report goes on to examine immigrant-origin adults by generation (foreign-born
vs U.S.-born), educational attainment (high school graduate or not), and limited English proficiency.
English Plus Integration: Shifting the Instructional Paradigm for Immigrant Adult Learners to Support Integration
Migration Policy Institute, October 2018, 30 pp.
Margie McHugh & Catrina Doxsee
This policy brief argues for an expanded model of ESOL for adults that prioritizes
and explicitly supports immigrant integration. The authors suggest that in addition to language acquisition, immigrants need
to develop digital literacy skills, understand the US history and civics required to become a citizen, and create success
plans for themselves and their families. Beyond these basic requirements, the authors believe that ESOL programs need to network
with other agencies so that adult learners can gain access to key information and resources on topics such as employment,
housing, health literacy and financial literacy. This kind of networking would allow programs to be tailored to the needs
of individual students, who can range from those with limited formal education in their home country to those with advanced
degrees. Because this more expansive conception of adult ESOL runs counter to the federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity
Act’s (WIOA) narrow focus on workforce development, the authors conclude that states must take action if they wish to
see ESOL play a key role in immigrant integration. They review case studies of states that have managed to re-allocate resources
for integration while still adhering to federal guidelines (e.g., New York State) and highlight aspects of the WIOA regulations
that allow for flexibility. Throughout the report, the authors recognize the time and resources demands placed on both learners
and programs, and they hope that a new model of service provision will make ESOL courses more flexible, efficient and responsive
to local efforts for immigrant integration. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
In Their Own Words: Higher Education, DACA, and TPS
TheDream.US, October 2018, 34 pp.
Author: Jose Magaña-Salgado
Despite considerable challenges, many immigrant students in the United States are attending college
and earning advanced degrees. Published by a nonprofit organization that awards scholarships to undocumented immigrant students
who are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS), this report presents
the findings of a national survey of 1,400 of those students looking at their education, employment and quality of life under
tenuous immigration statuses and uncertain futures in the U.S. Among the findings, 71 percent of students surveyed were employed,
and almost one-third worked full-time while attending college. Nearly all students reported that acquiring a college degree
was very important to them, and 66 percent of students were preparing for an occupation that requires a professional license
such as a doctor or engineer. This is notable because federal law prohibits states from issuing professional licenses to undocumented
immigrants, unless authorized under state law. Students also cited the importance of receiving a driver’s license through
their DACA or TPS status. Many students expressed anxiety at the prospect of losing protected immigration status citing concerns
over childcare and food security. Given the positive effect the protections have had on these scholars’ lives, the report
recommends that policymakers make DACA and TPS protections permanent to allow immigrant students to receive in-state tuition
and qualify for financial aid, and to allow employers to retain these workers on their payrolls. (Deb D'Anastasio for
The Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)
Reimagining Skilled Migration Partnerships to Support Development,
Migration Policy Institute, September 2018, 20 pp.
Author: Kate Hooper
This report envisions
a new form of partnership between immigrant sending and receiving countries to provide skill training opportunities in sending
countries comparable to the training standards found in the receiving country. Graduates of such programs might remain in
the home country or migrate to the receiving country. Through this type of partnership, people in both countries would benefit
by relieving skill shortages in receiving countries and by training a cadre of skilled professionals to work in the home country.
The cost of providing this type of training would be significantly less in the sending country than in the receiving country.
The final text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, released in July 2018, urges the development
of this type of partnership. The report spells out the differences between this type of approach and the “more traditional”
partnership model, which provides short-term supplemental training or work experience to people trained in the home country.
The newer approach operates on a longer time frame, targets students rather than graduates, provides benefits to both migrants
and non-migrants alike, raises the quality of education provided in the home country, and has spin-off development benefits.
One model that deserves attention, both for what it has achieved and what it has not, is the Australia-Pacific-Technical College
that provides courses in subjects such as construction, engineering, and hospitality through several universities in the Pacific
Islands. The report concludes with recommendations as to: (1) which sectors to target, (2) how to bridge skill gaps, (3) how
to share costs equitably, and (4) how long these programs should run.
Upskilling the Immigrant Workforce to Meet Employer Demand
for Skilled Workers,
Urban Institute, July 2018, 56 pp.
Authors: Hamutal Bernstein & Carolyn Vilter
Noting that immigrant workers "are an often overlooked
but vital part of local economies," the authors of this report seek to identify the specific policy initiatives and training
strategies that can help immigrant workers advance to "middle-skilled" jobs, and thereby fill available job openings.
The report is premised on the existence of a "middle-skills gap" -- the idea that employers are having trouble filling
jobs requiring post-secondary credentials, but not necessarily a four-year college degree. The report begins with an
examination of the size and characteristics of the "potentially untapped immigrant workforce" and includes an appendix
with pertinent data for the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. The report then goes on to identify
the specific barriers that prevent immigrants from accessing the education and training necessary to qualify for these jobs.
These barriers include limited English proficiency, lack of recognition of foreign credentials and home-country job experience,
low digital literacy and basic skills, work pressures that limit discretionary time, and "the big three" of high
housing costs, transportation challenges, and limited child care options. The report then goes on to discuss efforts underway
in three cities: Dallas, Miami, and Seattle, to address these barriers. Promising strategies include: innovative approaches
to ESL instruction, e.g. integrating workforce or vocationally specific content into ESL instruction; entrepreneurship training;
and offering classes at the work place. The report also stresses the importance of systematic outreach to the immigrant
community to improve access the workforce system through inclusive staffing, use of foreign-language media, collaboration
with trusted community organizations, and the provision of wrap-around services. This report was funded by a grant from JPMorgan
Chase and was informed by site visits to, and in-depth interviews with 30 diverse stakeholders in, the aforementioned cities.
At the intersection of immigration and skills policy: A roadmap to smart policies for state
and local leaders,
National Skills Coalition, September 2018, 12 pp.
Author: Amanda Bergson-Shilcock
This report is a comprehensive guide intended to aid local and state officials in the development
and implementation of education and workforce policies responsive to the needs of immigrant communities. The report examines
promising initiatives undertaken by the growing network of state and local offices devoted to the integration of immigrants.
Today, there are nearly 30 municipal offices of immigrant affairs, 6 state offices, and more than 90 welcoming community initiatives.
Many of these offices and projects have focused their attention on education and workforce development policies and practices.
The report is divided into three sections. The first provides examples of how local and state agencies have implemented immigrant
skill policies. One strategy has been to fund “navigator” positions to help immigrant jobseekers access appropriate
training opportunities. The second section shows how these policies can help states achieve broader skill development goals
under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA); and the final section offers a series of recommendations for three
different stakeholder groups: established immigrant affairs offices, newly-created offices, and personnel from state workforce
and education agencies. Among the recommendations for established offices are to use their convening power to bring various
stakeholders together to improve the quality of workforce programs for immigrants. The report also urges staff of immigrant
affairs officers to serve on local and state workforce boards. NSC also recommends that newly-created offices be housed within
a labor, education, or workforce development agency to emphasize the centrality of workforce development to the goal of immigrant
integration. NSC further recommends that “gaining a seat at the table” may be more important than securing a special
budget line item for stand-alone workforce development programs.
Collaboration in Support of New Americans,
Open Door Collective, April 2017, 5 pp.
Authors: Jen Vanek et al
The Open Door Collective (ODC) is a network of concerned professionals dedicated to reshaping U.S. society to reduce levels of poverty and economic
inequality. ODC members believe that adult education and lifelong learning are important tools in this quest, especially because
adults with low literacy, numeracy, and English language skills, are much more likely to live in poverty. In pursuit of its
mission, the Collective has produced a series of policy papers, including this one on the importance of adult education for
immigrants. The paper outlines some of the deficiencies in the current federally-funded system, including "one-size-fits-all"
approaches that fail to address the needs of lower level immigrant learners. The authors recommend that adult educators
work together with advocacy groups, resettlement agencies, and immigrant-serving CBOs "to assure equitable access to
programs and fair distribution of funds for refugees and immigrants."
Do Human Capital Decisions Respond to the Returns to Education? Evidence from DACA,
(Paper available free-of-charge to government employees and for a fee to others)
Bureau of Economic Research, February 5, 2018, 58 pp.
Authors: Elira Kuka et al
This paper suggests
that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program had a significant impact on young undocumented immigrants'
decision-making. The paper highlights increases in high school attendance and high school graduation rates, increased pursuit
of postsecondary education, and greater workforce participation by those pursuing education, as well as decreased teen fertility
rates. The study draws on data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Factor Surveillance
Survey, and a California Department of Education dataset. It uses a "difference in differences" technique to compare
youth who would likely have been eligible for DACA with a similarly situated population of non-eligible foreign-born youth.
The researchers found that states that had enacted so-called "tuition equity" or "state-level Dream Act" legislation - that is, bills that allow undocumented youth
to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges -- saw greater increases in postsecondary participation among DACA youth
than states that had not. However, post-secondary participation rates increased for young women, not for young men, leading
to speculation that undocumented men are generally more likely to be concentrated in sections of the labor market that depend
more on manual labor skills and are less likely to require postsecondary credentials. The study's findings suggest that
young undocumented immigrants respond quickly and enthusiastically when policymakers present them with a path to greater educational
and workforce opportunities. The findings are especially notable among young Hispanic men, who are often vulnerable to high
school dropout pressures, and young women, who demonstrated eagerness to pursue postsecondary education despite the fact that
such education was not required in order to obtain DACA status (Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, National Skills Coalition).
Ready to work: Understanding Immigrant Skills in the United States to Build a Competitive Workforce,
Chicago Council on Global
Affairs, January, 2018, 57 pp.
Author: Rob Paral
In order to maximize the
potential of foreign-born workers in the U.S., policy makers and practitioners in the workforce development field must first
understand the diverse characteristics, assets and needs of immigrants. This report provides a detailed portrait of the foreign-born
working population in the U.S., emphasizing sociodemographic characteristics, immigration status, geographic distribution,
and levels of education and training. The study uses an innovative methodology to match American Community Survey (ACS) data
with data on educational requirements for specific jobs produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report finds that
immigrants have higher labor force participation rates compared to the U.S.-born with undocumented immigrants participating
the most (76 percent compared to 63 percent of all immigrants and U.S.-born). Immigrants tend to be of working age and therefore
younger than their U.S.-born peers. Overall, immigrants are overrepresented at the high and low ends of the education spectrum.
However, immigrants are more likely to experience a mismatch between the level of education they have and the level their
job requires. Among the significant numbers of immigrants working in jobs for which they are overqualified, they earn less
than their U.S.-born peers whose skills are also underutilized. The report also points out that there is a significant demand
for lower-skilled workers in the U.S. economy, particularly in the transportation, installation, production, and food preparation
fields, and immigrants play an important role in filling the 35 percent of jobs that only require a high school degree. The
author also suggests that "there is a limit to how many workers can be upskilled and the number of employees who can
be placed in a higher-skilled job given the economy's continued creation of low-skilled jobs." Nonetheless, many foreign-born
workers would benefit from greater access to additional education and training, particularly professional licenses and certificates.
However, age, immigration status and geographic location -- important because states vary in their responsiveness to immigrant
need -- affect the likelihood that immigrants will be able to access needed education or training. The authors recommend several
areas for further research including an intentional collection of immigrant demographics rather than proxy data from the ACS,
projecting future workforce needs and meeting demand for low-skilled labor, and examining how to ensure investments in policies
and programs reach immigrants where they are. (Yuki Wiland for The Immigrant Learning Center
Public Education Institute)
Expanding the Dream: Engaging Immigrant Youth and Adults in Post-Secondary and Adult Education,
The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP),
November, 2017, 15 pp.
Authors: Duy Pham & Wendy Cervantes
The authors of this brief argue that while the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program
(DACA) has had a positive impact both on the lives of the undocumented immigrants who signed up for it and on the country
as a whole, it is not enough, and an updated DREAM act should be passed that provides a lasting reform of the nation's immigration
laws. The brief compares three different federal bills that attempt to regularize the status of the Dreamer population
and argues that one in particular - the 2017 Dream Act - has advantages over the others. The brief also highlights the
role that adult education programs could play in helping immigrant youth and adults, especially those who have dropped out
of high school to support themselves and their families, qualify for regularization programs. Once undocumented
learners are out of high school they no longer have a right to public education, and the rules governing the Workforce Investment
and Opportunity Act (WIOA) prevent undocumented adults from accessing workforce training programs. The authors
suggest that removing these restrictions would open up training programs to more adults and provide a boost to the economy. They
also believe that such adult education programs could be part of the process of gaining citizenship. To make this
possible, the authors note that more money needs to be allocated for workforce training programs and that there needs to be
a closer alignment with educational programs to create career pathways. Rather than sequential course work (e.g.,
completing English language classes prior to entering vocational training), the authors advocate for the creation of integrated
education and training programs (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
Taking Giant Leaps Forward: Experiences of a Range of DACA Beneficiaries at the 5-Year Mark,
Center for American Progress, National UNDACAMENTED Research Project, June 22, 2017, 8 pp.
G. Gonazalez et al
This brief describes the impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
on a particularly vulnerable segment of the DACA-eligible population: high school dropouts and those whose educations
had been interrupted because of financial, legal, and motivational barriers. Based on interviews with 319 such individuals
in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina, the report concludes that DACA has been instrumental
in opening up important educational and career pathways for this population. DACA recipients have been able to get their high
school equivalency diplomas, attend college at affordable rates, obtain driver's licenses, and obtain jobs commensurate with
their education and skills. Through their success, the entire economy benefits through increased purchasing power, higher
tax revenues, and higher home ownership rates. The authors argue that a permanent solution to the problem of undocumented
status, i.e. providing a path to citizenship, would lock in all these benefits.
Promising Practices in Immigrant Education Database,
Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education
CCCIE's database of promising practices in immigrant
education provides community colleges with "an opportunity to learn from one another, share new ideas, and expand and
improve their programs to serve immigrant students." The database organizes promising practices into five major types
of programs or initiatives: Comprehensive Support Services, ESL Programs, Workforce Training/Career Development, Community/Employer
Partnerships, Citizenship/Civics Preparation, and Inclusive Practices for Undocumented Students. One example of a promising
practice in the Workforce Training category is the Career Pathways Program of Portland (Oregon) Community College. An example in the ESL Programs category is the Language Institute of Columbus (Ohio) State Community College. An example in the Undocumented Students category is the Achieving the Dream Initiative of Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier, CA. The description of each promising practice includes information on
outcomes, challenges, funding and sustainability, and contact person.
Serving English Language
Learner (ELL) Populations Using Best Practices and Model Partnerships,
Workforce Development Board, Policy Brief, January, 2017, 23 pp.
Author: Jennifer Hernandez
brief reviews examples of programs and initiatives that provide workforce development services for individuals who are limited
English proficient. A key concern is the fact that programs funded under Title I of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity
Act (WIOA) do not provide services to many English Language Learners. In fact, fewer than 4 percent of those exiting
from WOIA Title I programs are ELLs. To address this service gap, the brief presents models that combine workforce training
with English language and literacy skills. Potential partners include adult education providers, public libraries, labor-management
partnerships, industry and employers, community colleges and community based organizations. The author stresses the
need for workforce development boards to work with WIOA Title II and other adult education providers to identify issues facing
ELLs and discuss possible solutions. For example, the author suggests that in addition to conferring with potential employers
about what they are looking for, training and education partnerships should reach out to those with DACA status to support
their entry into the workforce. The paper also provides general guidelines for service provision, including creating
portable/stackable credentials that are part of a career pathway and attending to the logistical needs of program participants.
Existing programs are introduced, and a list of federal programs that can support the development of career pathways for ELLs
is provided. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Baltimore Rise: A Case Study in Advancing Local Workforce Development Efforts for New Americans,
Higher, and the (Baltimore) Mayor's Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs,
2017, 17 pp.
Author: Daniel Wilkinson
"Higher" is a program of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee
Services designed to provide technical assistance to refugee employment programs at all nine national resettlement agencies
and their affiliates. This report describes a pilot project, funded by a Targeted Assistance Grant from the federal Office
of Refugee Resettlement, to make the workforce development system more responsive to the needs of immigrants and refugees,
particularly those with college-level education in their home countries. The project recruited dedicated staff for this
project from one of Baltimore's American Job Centers. Related vocational training took place at Baltimore City Community
College. "Higher" staff provided technical assistance, based in part on observation and shadowing of American Job
Center staff. At the close of the pilot year, the program had connected 117 refugees to vocational training, 75 of whom
successfully graduated. In addition, 53 participants had obtained employment. However, these numbers fell short of original
targets. The report concludes with recommendations for local areas seeking to improve workforce development opportunities
for immigrants and refugees.
Foundational Skills in the Service Sector: Understanding and addressing the impact of limited math,
reading, and technology proficiency on workers and employers,
National Skills Coalition, February, 2017, 36 pp.
This paper reviews a recent assessment of the literacy, numeracy
and digital problem-solving skills of workers in the service sector and proposes policy responses at the local, state and
national level. The service sector encompasses workers in retail; health and social assistance; and leisure and hospitality
- 25 percent of whom are immigrants. Drawing on data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies
(PIAAC) (conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the author highlights the fact that while
there are 20 million American workers employed in the service sector with limited foundational skills, these workers are called
upon to use their literacy and numeracy skills on a daily basis. Gaps in foundational skills create potentially dangerous
conditions (such as when a worker using chemicals cannot read directions correctly) and reduce productivity. The paper gives
examples of creative ways that workers deal with their difficulties, but also notes the limitations to these strategies. Data
suggest that workers who do not address issues with their foundational skills have limited occupational mobility and are likely
to remain in poorly paid positions. To address the problem, the author suggests tailoring education and workforce training
to meet the needs of these workers, increased partnerships between companies in a given sector and efforts that bring together
employers and community colleges/education providers. The author also calls for the integration of adult education and workforce
training and increased funding for such projects. Underlying all of the suggestions is the idea that supporting the upskilling
of workers is the responsibility of workers themselves, companies and local and federal government. (Erik
Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Workforce Collaborations Build a System of Supports for Immigrants, and
Collaborations with Libraries Offer New Learning Opportunities for Immigrants,
The Networks for Integrating New Americans Initiative, World Education, January, 2017, 6 pp. each
These two fact sheets summarize the key lessons learned from the "Networks for Integrating New Americans
Initiative" of World Education, funded by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) of the Department
of Education. The first worksheet focuses on projects involving workforce development agencies and adult education programs;
the second on projects involving public library systems and adult education programs. Each fact sheet describes three communities
that implemented model projects illustrative of each type of collaboration.
Changing the Course of Family Literacy,
Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, Penn State University, January, 2017, 16 pp.
Clymer, Blaire Willson Toso, Elisabeth Grinder & Ruth Parrish Sauder
Despite the demise of targeted federal
funding for family literacy programs in 2011 (known as the Even Start program), states continue to support family literacy
programs as a useful strategy for combatting intergenerational poverty. According to this report, there are 11 states and
the District of Columbia that provide funding for such programs, either using other federal funding streams that allow family
literacy as an optional activity, or state funding sources. The report provides details about many of these programs
and stresses the value of the "four-component model" of family literacy. The authors also point out the flaws in
the evaluation study that led to the defunding of Even Start. Finally, the report makes a number of recommendations, including
establishing a federal discretionary grant program to fund research related to effective practice in this area and identifying
performance measures and outcomes to adequately document the results and benefits of family literacy.
Talking Jobs: Lessons from ENB's 2016 ESOL Student Employment Survey,
English for New Bostonians and National Skills Coalition, 2016, 19 pp.
English for Speakers of Other
Languages (ESOL) classes are a critical investment in immigrants' success in America. The study Talking Jobs: Lessons
from ENB's 2016 ESOL Student Employment Survey from English for New Bostonians examines a survey of 1,463 adult students
in 39 MA ESOL programs. Survey respondents are primarily involved in four main employment sectors: accommodation and food
services, retail trade, healthcare and social assistance and other services such as facilities support. While the one million
immigrants living in MA are only slightly more likely to work in the labor force compared to native-born workers, immigrant
ESOL students have a labor force participation rate of 85 percent, compared to the general immigrant rate of 68 percent. Survey
results suggest that foreign credentials are not always recognized by employers, and that limited English proficiency may
prevent qualified immigrants from obtaining white-collar jobs. Significantly, half (50 percent) of survey respondents said
that their coworkers required English classes. The authors recommend that advocates support investment in adult English programs
through public and private sources, and that employers offer ESOL programs to their employees either on- or off-site with
tuition reimbursement as incentive. (Sarah Purdy for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Serving Immigrant Families through Two-Generation Programs: Identifying Family Needs and Responsive
Migration Policy Institute, November, 2016, 49 pp.
Authors: Maki Park, Margie McHugh, & Caitlin Katsiaficas
More resources for two-generation programs could help break cycles of intergenerational poverty and increase stability
in immigrant families, according to this report funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundaton. The report seeks to fill the knowledge
gap regarding the importance and impact of two-generation programs-services providing adult education, workforce training
or parenting skills as well as early childhood development opportunities-in serving immigrants and refugees with young children.
Data analysis reveals that the children of immigrants are more likely to live in poverty and in households where parents have
low education and limited English proficiency than their U.S.-born peers. The authors examine eleven exemplary programs that
utilize a two-generation approach and identify the program elements that seem to be most conducive to success. Due to the
complex immigrant status restrictions applied to federal and local family services, English language programs have become
the primary path by which immigrant parents with young children participate in two-generation services. With the implementation
of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), intergenerational programs are threatened with extinction, as the
metrics for evaluating these programs do not fit the family-oriented goals of these programs. The authors maintain that better
data analysis and more customized funding are necessary for equitable access to these two-generation programs. Given their
analysis of factors that make for exceptional two-generation programs, the authors recommend increasing federal support for
parent-focused literacy initiatives and greater flexibility in evaluating them. (Sarah Purdy for The ILC Public Education
State Sociodemographic Portraits of Immigrant and U.S. Born Parents of Young Children
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2016
Authors: Maki Park, Margie McHugh, & Caitlin Katsiaficas
children in immigrant families comprise a growing share of the U.S. population ages 0-8, MPI has published a set of 30 fact
sheets providing an overview of key sociodemographic characteristics of native- and foreign-born parents of young children
in states with the largest number of immigrant families. The data sets are designed to help states and community stakeholders
target early-childhood and parent-focused investments towards programs that close school readiness gaps and ensure that parents
have the education and skills to support their families.
Skills and Training for New Americans: Creating a Thriving Economy that Works for All of Us,
National Immigration Forum, November 2016, 23 pp.
Published as the United
States prepares for a new administration in Washington, this brief reviews the important role that immigrants play in the
nation's economy and highlights barriers to their full participation and upward mobility (such as lack of English language
skills and access to training). Five main ways of overcoming these barriers are presented. The first strategy
is building English and basic skills through adult education. The paper presents data about the impact of adult education
programs and advocates for increasing expenditures in this area. The second strategy is increasing access to employment training
services under WIOA Title I, largely through programs that integrate English education with targeted vocational training.
The third strategy focuses on making higher education more affordable and responsive to the needs of learners (e.g., by providing
flexible scheduling and expanding Pell Grant eligibility to include year-round learners and those with college degrees earned
in their home countries). The fourth strategy focuses on building digital skills that support both employment needs and allow
adults to solve problems they face in their everyday lives (e.g., accessing information online). The fifth strategy focuses
on tapping the talents of foreign-trained immigrants. The paper reviews promising programs that allow immigrant professionals
to return to their occupations and highlights federal policy that makes this a priority. For each of the strategies
under consideration, the paper provides data about both current conditions and about the potential impact of the proposed
changes. In addition to making the case for increased expenditures, the paper argues for regulatory changes that would
provide more flexibility to states, programs and learners. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Skills for Good Jobs: An Agenda for the Next President
National Skills Coalition, November, 2016, 38 pp.
This transition paper constitutes an effort by the National
Skills Coalition to reimagine workforce, career and foundational education at the federal level. Its key concern is
moving millions of adults into middle-skills jobs that will lift them out of poverty. One key strategy calls for more
explicit coordination of efforts across multiple departments and agencies. A second important strategy envisions expanded
education and training opportunities for people, both through additional funding and by changing regulations so that those
receiving public support can upskill rather than be forced to take jobs that are unlikely to provide upward mobility. The
report is organized into eight policy suggestions (e.g., "developing a job-driven community college compact for today's
students" and "support(ing) the development of five million new apprentices") and it details what it believes
can be achieved in the first 100 days of the next administration, the first year and the term as a whole. One of the
policy areas the report addresses is the need to integrate the country's growing immigrant workforce. The Coalition
proposes that any newly created path to citizenship includes opportunities to develop foundational skills and participate
in occupational training. The report also directly addresses the need to help immigrants and the community at-large
take advantage of the skills immigrant workers already possess. The report includes detailed information about how new
interagency working groups can be created and how changes in tax policy can help to pay for new educational and training expenditures. (Erik
Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Integrated Education and Training Policy Toolkit,
National Skills Coalition, October 2016, 10 pp.
Author: Amanda Bergson-Shilcock
This toolkit provides information that state policymakers, educators, and
advocates can use to promote the creation or expansion of integrated education and training (IET) programs. Noting that middle-skill
jobs constitute 54 percent of the US labor market but that only 44 percent of the existing workforce is trained to this level,
the toolkit shines a light on model programs that are helping lower-skilled workers qualify for these jobs. The toolkit defines
IET as a program that simultaneously offer basic skills instruction, including contextualized ESL, along with occupational
or industry-specific training. Among the programs profiled in the toolkit are: Washington State’s I-Best program, Iowa’s
Pathways for Academic Career and Employment, and Minnesota’s Fast TRAC program. The Toolkit also discusses how states
can incentivize the creation of such programs and how various sources of funding can be tapped to cover their cost. The publication
concludes with five criteria that should be met in setting up such programs, including targeting high demand industry sectors
and utilizing non-instructional staff to provide supportive counseling services. The appendix includes a template that can
be used to develop state legislation supporting IET. A companion publication to the Toolkit is a 50-state scan of IET policies and programs, which found that at least 18 states have enacted an IET policy.
Improving Immigrant Access to Workforce Services: Partnerships, Practices & Policies,
The Aspen Institute, July, 2016, 18 pp.
Authors: Marcela Montes & Vickie Choitz
paper begins by reviewing data showing the need for better integrating immigrants into the workforce development and training
system, including economic indicators that point to the marginalization of many immigrants. The study itself consists of a
literature review and interviews with 16 representatives of different organizations, including national workforce development
institutes and local community-based organizations and training programs. A key concern was the underrepresentation
of immigrants in WIOA Title I programs. The paper suggests a number of reasons for this problem, including policies that do
not incentivize working with the immigrant population and the limited connection and coordination between workforce training
providers and community-based organizations. To address the situation, the paper argues for both changes in federal
policy and leveraging of existing policy. The authors also detail the need for better sharing of the lessons being learned
by projects that are successfully making these types of connections, including workforce development projects that intentionally
take into the account the needs of immigrant populations. In addition, the authors suggest that immigrant-focused organizations
need to increase their efforts to develop partnerships and to be part of regional boards that are striving towards integration
of services. The authors also conclude that there is a need for more accurate data systems so that the participation of immigrants
in workforce programs can be better assessed. To accomplish these difficult but important tasks the authors stress the importance
of increased dialogue among all stakeholders. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Digital Divide Narrows for Latinos as More Spanish Speakers and Immigrants Go Online,
Pew Research Center, July, 2016, 23 pp.
Authors: Anna Brown, Gustavo López, & Mark Hugo Lopez
This paper presents a demographic analysis of internet access in 2015 with a focus on the
Latino population of the United States. The research suggests the picture is complex. For example, since 2009
the rate of Latino adults who report using the Internet has climbed to 84 percent, which has drastically decreased the gap
in internet use between Latino and white adults (the white rate currently stands at 89 percent). However, only 46 percent
of Latinos access the Internet through a broadband home connection (compared to 73 percent of whites). Use of mobile
devices is comparative (80 percent for Latinos and 76 percent for whites). The study also notes that the Latino population
that does not have access to internet (16 percent) is largely foreign-born and Spanish-language dominant. Levels of
education, income and age are also associated with different patterns of access. Although the authors do not present
any implications for practice based on these results, it would seem that programs that provide education and services to Latino
populations must be cognizant of the complexity of their digital access. For example, given that a Latino client or student
might be more likely to access information from a mobile device, attention must be paid to how a program's online site is
set up. In addition, the disparity in access between US-born and foreign-born Latinos needs to be addressed during outreach
and communications (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
This paper summarizes the results of the first year
of an initiative called Building Community Partnerships to Serve Immigrant Workers (BCPIW). The goal of this project
is to establish and support partnerships between community based-organizations, in particular worker centers, and community
colleges in their locale. The report presents an argument for the need for such collaboration, reviews the process the BCPIW
followed to identify best practices, and presents case studies of eight partnerships across six different states. The partnerships
focused on expanding immigrants' access to education and training by adapting curriculum, creating new programs of study and
developing wrap-around services to address learners' non-academic needs. Participants suggested that the peer-learning model
used by the initiative was helpful in building trust and familiarity between the worker centers, CBOs and community colleges,
and the paper goes into some detail about the nature of the on-going assistance the collaborating partners received. The case
studies include descriptions of successes (e.g., the creation of new curricular pathways to support immigrant students' progress
towards industry certification) and hurdles they encountered (e.g., the difficulty of identifying potential employer partners).
A theme that emerged across the experiences of the eight partnerships is the need for institutions and organizations to be
intentional about how immigrants and refugees navigate their spaces and programs, rather than letting polices and approaches
develop in an ad hoc fashion. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Teaching Toward Equity: The Importance of English Classes to Reducing Economic Inequality in New York,
The Center for Popular Democracy & Make the Road New York, March, 2016, 12 pp.
Author: Kate Hamaji
position paper focuses on the potential impact that ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes can have on reducing
the persistent income inequality that immigrants in New York City and State are experiencing. Hamaji begins by reviewing
data about the employment status and wages of immigrant adults who are limited English proficient (LEP), noting that they
are slightly less likely to be employed and earn significantly less than immigrants who are English proficient. Hamaji suggests
that helping these LEP individuals to become proficient in English would not only boost their own earning power, it would
contribute to the overall economic health of the city and state. In addition to addressing strictly economic issues,
Hamaji also discusses how limited proficiency in English also negatively impacts immigrants' ability to defend their rights
as workers (e.g., fighting back against wage theft and unsafe working conditions) and their confidence when advocating on
behalf of their family (e.g., when speaking with their children's teachers or doctors). To this end, the paper includes
testimonials from three ESOL students who have benefitted from their classes. Hamaji presents data that suggests while
the size of the immigrant population in New York City and State has continued to increase, the number of seats available to
LEP learners has declined over the last decade. The report concludes by asking for increases in funding in a variety
of programs that provide ESOL, adult education and workforce development programs (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
Workforce Development Rhetoric and the Realities of 21st Century Capitalism,
Literacy & Numeracy Studies, 24:1 (2016), 22 pp.
Author: Erik Jacobson
paper questions the reigning orthodoxy in the workforce development field, as reflected in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity
Act (WIOA) passed by Congress on a bipartisan basis in 2014. WIOA posits the existence of a "skills gap" between
the hiring requirements of employers and the availability of qualified workers to meet those requirements. Not only does the
author marshal evidence to challenge this assumption, he also questions whether the purpose of adult education should be solely
to meet the needs of employers. Jacobson cites the "disproportionate growth in low-skill, low-wage work that started
in the 1990s," a decrease in middle-wage jobs, and the increase in demand for high-skilled, white-collar workers. This
"polarization of the workforce" leaves little room for lower skill workers to train for family-sustaining jobs,
as there are so few of them to go around. Put in another way, Jacobson writes, "we cannot train our way out of poverty
one worker at a time." Instead, we need to focus on the economic conditions that give rise to inequities in society and
the structural solutions that might reduce those inequities, such as a floor on wages to reduce the growing number of poverty-level
jobs, investments in infrastructure improvements to create new jobs, and strengthening the safety net for all workers. Jacobson
urges adult education teachers to weave a social justice perspective into their work, to question the "methods fetish"
in education, and to recognize that "education alone is not enough to move a whole class of people out of poverty..."
Building Career Pathways for Adult Learners: An Evaluation of Progress in Illinois, Minnesota,
and Wisconsin After Eight Years of Shifting Gears,
The Joyce Foundation,
September, 2015, 43 pp.
Authors: Brandon Roberts & Derek Price
The Joyce Foundation launched the Shifting
Gears Initiative in the six Midwestern states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin in 2007. The
purpose of the initiative was to help low-skilled adults transition to post-secondary education and family-sustaining employment
through the development of "bridge programs," i.e. programs that would connect basic skills education (including
ESL) to post-secondary education in high demand occupational sectors. The foundation invested $12.7 million dollars in the
project between 2007 and 2014. This report is the project's second evaluation study, focusing on the three states of Illinois,
Minnesota, and Wisconsin - the only states receiving renewal funding from 2012 to 2014. Although the project made "demonstrable
progress" during this period, the number of total participants remained small, never reaching more than 5 percent of
the adult learners in need. The total number served in 2014 was 3,700. The percentage of bridge participants who earned a
postsecondary credential during the period from 2011 to 2014 was 6 percent in Illinois, 15 percent in Minnesota, and 25 percent
in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's favorable results seem to have been driven by the exceptionally good outcomes for immigrant participants.
The Shifting Gears Initiative was a precursor to the federal Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Act in 2014, which drew
some of its inspiration, especially its emphasis on "career pathways," from the project.
Tuition Equality Act is a Half-Measure Without Access to Financial Aid,
New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), April, 2015, 11 pp.
Author: Erika J. Nava
This report argues
that in-state tuition for qualified undocumented students is insufficient to lower the barriers to college access for these
students, who tend to be from lower-income families and therefore reliant on state higher education assistance to cover college
costs (New Jersey at present does not provide such assistance). NJPP surveyed 11 public colleges and universities in New Jersey
to determine the impact of a 2013 law granting in-state tuition to undocumented students. Despite the large size of New Jersey's
undocumented population, only 251 new undergraduate undocumented students enrolled at these institutions during 2014. With
a substantial drop in state aid for public colleges since 2007, the average cost of tuition and fees at these schools has
risen by 24 percent to an average level of $13,002 -- 42 percent more than the national average of $9,139. Citing sources
indicating that the average family income of undocumented families in New Jersey is $39,100 (about $75,000 less than that
of New Jerseyans in general), and pointing out that undocumented students are not eligible for federal Pell grants, the author
suggests that many of these students will have a hard time continuing their education without access to New Jersey's need-based
Tuition Aid Grant, which currently provides 82,000 awards per year. The balance of the report addresses arguments of opponents
who claim that such a policy change would either cost too much or take opportunities away from other low-income students.
In the Shadows of the Ivory Tower: Undocumented Undergraduates and the Liminal State of
The UndocuScholars Project, The Institute
for Immigration, Globalization & Education, University of California, Los Angeles, January, 2015, 29 pp.
Robert T. Teranishi, Carola Suárez-Orozco, and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
Funded by the Ford Foundation,
this study is the product of a joint effort by the Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education at the University
of California, Los Angeles and the UndocuScholars Project. Based on survey responses from 909 undocumented individuals from
34 states, the report sheds light on the range of issues facing undocumented students seeking to access and succeed in higher
education. The survey captures basic demographic information about these students, including country of origin, age at arrival
in the U.S., college majors, and socioeconomic background (61.3 percent, for example, come from homes with an annual household
income of less than $30,000). The researchers found that 65.9 percent of the sample had applied for and received deferred
action under the DACA Program and that these students had derived important advantage from the program, including the ability
to work while going to school. However, DACA did not eliminate all the barriers and uncertainties that these students face,
including "residual worries" about deportation both for themselves, if and when the DACA program ends, and their
loved ones. A "surprising" finding of the study was high anxiety levels for DACA recipients, notwithstanding the
short-term reprieve from deportation. The report emphasizes that state and local authorities, as well as higher education
personnel, can adopt policies that are either inclusionary or exclusionary. Perhaps, the most important public policies affecting
these students are whether they qualify for in-state tuition and whether they can apply for state-funded tuition assistance.
The authors review the variations that exist around the country on these questions. The authors also identify ways to improve
the campus climate for undocumented students, including developing "safe spaces" for these students. They conclude
by proposing a nine-point program for creating an "undocufriendly" campus.
Missing in Action: Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized Youth
National Skills Coalition, February 2015, 14 pp.
Authors: Rachel Unrah & Amanda
This paper examines the disconnect between the manpower needs
of the American economy and the educational and training requirements imposed on undocumented immigrants seeking to regularize
their status. The authors review current or proposed legislation or administrative actions, including the DREAM Act, the original
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents
(DAPA) program, the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and future comprehensive immigration reform.
They observe that these requirements "have not lined up with what the labor market actually demands, and to date, no
policy has included the investments or infrastructure needed to support job-driven educational pathways for unauthorized youth
and adults." For example, provisions of the DREAM Act "do not reflect the educational outcomes demanded by
the labor market." Applicants for legalization are required to obtain a two-year degree and are not allowed to substitute
an industry-recognized, middle-skill credential. Although the provisions of the DACA program are less onerous than the
DREAM Act, i.e. requiring that applicants only be enrolled in a career-focused education or literacy program, the program
presents a "Catch-22" for applicants, as Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is only
open to people who are already work-authorized, not those applying for work authorization. The authors urge advocates
and policy-makers n the immigrant integration field to fashion "an intentional, pro-active skills strategy" as they
consider various reform proposals. (Ariella Katz-Suchov for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Through an Immigrant Lens: PIAAC Assessment of the Competencies of Adults in the United
Migration Policy Institute, February, 2015, 36 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix
This report analyzes immigrant-related data from the 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adults Competencies
(PIACC), which evaluated the cognitive skills of adults (ages 16 to 65) in 24 member countries of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD), Including the United States. Approximately 166,000 adults, including 5,010 in the United
States, participated in the survey. The results for the US were quite disappointing. The US average literacy score (270) ranked
16th out of 24 countries and below the OECD average of 273. Fifteen percent (636 persons) of the US total survey
sample of 5,010 persons was foreign-born. Immigrants had substantially lower proficiency scores than the US-born in all three
tested domains: English literacy proficiency, numeracy, and problem-solving skills. However, removing immigrants from
the survey sample did not significantly improve the US overall ranking. The report goes on to take a granular look at various
subcategories of immigrants. For example, literacy scores are lower for Hispanics and Blacks than for other immigrants,
and over half of immigrants with bachelor's degrees are not proficient in literacy or numeracy, suggesting the need for targeted
programs to serve this subset of the immigrant population. Unlike their counterparts in other OECD countries, immigrants with
the lowest literacy levels in the US tend to be working, not unemployed, which, the authors observe, argues for the development
of workplace literacy programs to serve them. This report was commissioned by the American Institutes for Research and funded
through a contract with the National Center for Education Statistics.
Restructuring California's Adult Education System,
Legislative Analyst's Office, December 5, 2012, 28 pp.
The report recommends
a comprehensive restructuring of the adult education system in California with clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities
of adult schools and community colleges. The report finds that adult schools in California (currently numbering around 300)
and community colleges (112 in total) each have comparative advantages in delivering adult education. However, there should
be a "clear and consistent distinction between adult education and collegiate education." The report further
recommends that categorical funding for adult education in local school systems should be restored (In 2009, the legislature
allowed school systems to use funds previously dedicated for adult education for general purposes). Additional recommendations
include eliminating the requirement that instructors at adult schools hold a K-12 teaching credential so that faculty at community
colleges can teach at adult schools, and instituting a "modest enrollment fee" of $25 per course for students in
both adult schools and noncredit community college programs. The report also recommends that the system narrow its focus from
10 to 6 instructional programs, including ESL and citizenship and workforce preparation.The Legislative Analyst's Office has
also produced a video about the report.
New York State’s Language Barrier,
Center for an Urban Future, January, 2015, 8 pp.
Authors: David Giles and Barbara Wijering
New York State has seen significant growth in its immigrant population in the last decade mostly outside of New York
City, according to the report “New York State’s Language Barriers.” Despite this growth, authors David Giles
and Barbara Wijering argue that funding and implementing needed English as a Second Language (ESOL) programs are not keeping
pace. The data, sourced from the American Community Survey and the Literacy Assistance Center, show that during the same eight-year
period in which the immigrant population increased significantly (ranging from eight percent to 48 percent depending on the
county), the number of state-funded ESL seats dropped by 32 percent. As state funding remained flat during this period,
fewer students received more hours of instruction. While the increase in instructional hours was beneficial for those students,
it left all of the others out. As a result, state residents with self-reported low English proficiency increased by 14 percent
between 2005 and 2013. The authors emphasize the importance of English proficiency to immigrants’ workforce integration
and economic success. Increasing access to ESOL education through state funding for this growing section of the workforce,
this article states, will generate an economic spark for upstate New York cities and counties, and for employers and residents
alike. (Jamie Cross for The ILC Public Education Institute
Lessons from the Local Level: DACA's Implementation and Impact on Education and Training Success,
Migration Policy Institute, January, 2015, 53 pp.
Authors: Sarah Hooker, Margie McHugh &
Focusing on promising educational strategies in seven states with large immigrant populations
(California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Texas), this study explores the connection between educational
success and the ability of DREAMers to qualify for immigration relief. Funded with support from the Gates Foundation, the
study covers initiatives in four different settings: high schools, postsecondary education, adult education, and legal services.
For each setting, the report offers a number of "takeaways," including the following: (High Schools) Dropout prevention
and recovery programs can be important educational strategies for out-of-school DACA-eligible youth; (Postsecondary Education)
In-state tuition laws (without restrictions on access to GED completers) need to be expanded, along with eligibility for state
financial aid (now available in only five states); (Adult Education) Spanish language instruction for high school equivalency
is an effective strategy for out-of-school youth; and (Legal Services) Legal service providers need guidance in providing
referrals to education and training programs for DACA applicants, while schools need guidance in how to share information
without running afoul of privacy regulations. The report concludes with the following observation: "As many cities and
states seek to reap economic and social gains from bringing DACA youth into the formal labor market and building their human
capital, the initiatives described in this report provide important lessons for achieving the twin goals of assisting youth
who may qualify for new immigration relief measures while also promoting their education and career advancement."
Bridging the Gap for Foreign-Educated Immigrants: A Guide for Community Colleges,
Global Talent Bridge in partnership with the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, 2014, 34 pp.
Primary Author: Alexandra Lowe
Foreign-educated immigrants, i.e. immigrants with college degrees or credits
from their home country, often lack the knowledge and resources needed to obtain a job worthy of their educational accomplishments.
This immigrant "brain waste" has overall negative effects such as missed economic growth, wasted skills and loss
of tax revenue. This report draws attention to the central role that community colleges can play in helping skilled
immigrants transition into professional careers. The guide encourages community colleges to think of foreign-educated immigrants
as economic and social assets, who can fill skill shortages in key sectors and occupations, if properly guided and assisted.
It identifies resources for community college educators and administrators, with suggestions as to how to reach out to foreign-educated
immigrants and integrate them into existing programs and resources. The Guide also describes promising practices from community
colleges across the country and includes profiles of individual students who traversed the pathway to successful careers in
America. Among the many observations in the report are the following: foreign-educated immigrants learn about their
local community college purely by chance (targeted outreach would lead to higher enrollments); foreign-educated immigrants
don't want to start all over again (credential recognition and prior learning assessments are important steps on the path
to career reentry); long years of enrollment in non-credit English language courses can serve as a disincentive to career
advancement (co-enrollment in credit-bearing courses and "bridge programs" are effective strategies); and foreign-educated
immigrants are often unaware of financial assistance options (teachers and advisors should communicate this information
to students). (Ariella Katz Suchow for The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.'s Public Education Institute)
ESL Participation as a Mechanism for Advancing Health Literacy in Immigrant Communities,
Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, October 14, 2014, 17 pp.
Authors: Maricel G.
Santos et al
Over a 4-year period (2008-2012), a team of San Francisco-based researchers studied
the potential of the adult ESL classroom to produce improvements in health literacy, especially as it relates to the prevention
of Type-2 diabetes within immigrant communities. The project consisted of several phases, including a teacher survey and a
classroom pilot involving 5 teachers and 116 learners. The project was motivated by the belief that health literacy is not
solely a matter of cognitive skill development, but also the result of the social interaction and social support that takes
place in the classroom. This report questions the "oversimplified logic" that constructs health literacy as an individually
experienced set of reading and writing skills. The report underscores the importance of health knowledge in native language,
peer-to-peer learning, the commitment of teachers to health literacy, and the ripple effect of students serving as agents
of change within their communities. The report concludes that "adult literacy practitioners are strategic intermediaries
in the work of immigrant health care" and that health care organizations and funders should partner with the adult education
system in the effort to promote greater health literacy.
Investing in English Skills: The Limited English Proficient Workforce in U.S. Metropolitan Areas,
Brookings, September, 2014, 47 pp.
Author: Jill H. Wilson
In this report, author Jill H. Wilson
utilizes 2012 American Community Survey data to examine the Limited English Proficient (LEP) population in the U.S. and the
metropolitan areas where they reside. Numbering nearly one in 10 of working-age adults (19.2 million people between the ages
of 16 and 64), LEP individuals earn 25 to 40 percent less than their English-proficient counterparts. Although LEP individuals
tend to live in large metropolitan areas, their numbers are growing faster in smaller metro areas. The report provides
detailed analyses of the LEP population by metro area, including information on levels of education, poverty rates, median
annual earnings, home languages, and occupations. She notes, for example, that two-thirds of working-age LEP adults are concentrated
in just six industries, with accommodations and food services attracting the highest percentage. Despite the growth
in the size of the LEP population, there has been a decline in federal and state funding of English for Speakers of Other
Languages programs. As the LEP population is going to play a significant role in U.S. economic growth over the next four decades,
Wilson suggests closing this gap. One way would be to implement a more equitable distribution of Workforce Investment
Act funding to support English instruction, i.e. counting all LEP individuals in determining the funding formula for states
rather than just the 40 percent without a high school diploma. She also calls for innovations in instructional approaches,
such as worksite classes and online and mobile technology to increase access to English learning opportunities. (Robert
Smith for The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.'s Public Education Institute)
Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible Youth,
Migration Policy Institute, September, 2014, 37 pp.
Author: Margie McHugh
Examining the intersection
of education policy and immigration policy, this report assesses the educational needs of important sub-populations of immigrant
youth, who will be unable to obtain immigration benefits (under DACA and future immigration reform) unless they achieve certain
educational goals. The three groups of most concern are: immigrants age 16 or older with low levels of education (often
below 8th grade) who never attended school in the U.S.; immigrants who dropped out of high school for a variety
of reasons, e.g. need to work, pregnancy, lack of credit attainment, or some combination thereof; and high school graduates
without post-secondary education, who would fail to qualify for legalization under the Senate version of immigration reform
(and likely under any subsequent version) without two years of college. The need for educational opportunities for these groups
comes at a time when the existing adult education system is under severe strain, largely caused by state budget cuts. Over
a five-year period ending in 2012-2013, adult education enrollment declined by 612,616, or 27 percent nationally. The
report gives examples of "promising practices and emerging models" designed to serve these young people, including
the Plaza Comunitarias Spanish language high school equivalency program of the Mexican government, drop-out recovery
programs operated by school districts, a range of college affordability strategies, and "bridge programs" to accelerate
transitions to post-secondary education. The report also identifies various system-level improvements, including a marketing
campaign targeting DACA-eligible youth, "personalized guidance and navigation support at the front end of adult
education," and breaking down program silos, by for example, training leaders in the workforce development, adult education,
and post-secondary fields to gain expertise on issues of immigration policy and practice.
English-Speaking Ability of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2012,
U.S. Census Bureau, June, 2014, 14 pp.
Authors: Christine P. Gambino, Yesenia
D. Acosta, & Elizabeth M. Grieco
Using data from the 2012 American Community Survey, this report examines
English use at home and English-speaking ability among the foreign-born population in the U.S. The report also discusses the
relationship between English-speaking ability and place of birth, level of education, and years spent living in the United
States. A number of charts permit comparisons between states and with national averages. As might be expected, the percentage
of the U.S. foreign-born population speaking a language other than English at home increased from 70 percent in 1970 to 85
percent in 2012, with 2012 variations ranging from a high of 91 percent in Texas to a low of 49 percent in Montana.
With regard to English-speaking ability, half the foreign-born in the U.S. aged 5 and older spoke English less than "very
well." The report includes a color-coded map of the states showing states "significantly higher" or "significantly
lower" than the national average on English-speaking ability. The balance of the report analyzes English-speaking ability
by country of origin.
Two Years and Counting: Assessing the Growing Power of DACA,
American Immigration Council, Special Report, June, 2014, 13 pp.
Authors: Robert G. Gonzales & Angie M. Bautista-Chavez
This research brief presents findings from the National UnDACAmented Research Project which analyzes the impact
of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program on the lives of young people who qualified for the program. Based
on a national survey of 2,684 DACA-eligible young adults between the ages of 18 and 32, the report found that almost 60 percent
of DACA beneficiaries surveyed obtained a new job, and 45 percent increased their earnings. Economic benefits, however,
were greatest for those who attended four-year colleges and who had already received their bachelor's degree. The survey included
a smaller subsample of 244 respondents who, although qualified for the program, did not apply. People in this group had less
schooling, worked longer hours and were more likely to have children of their own. The primary obstacle for this group (mentioned
by 43 percent) was the $465 application fee. The report mentions that "stopping-out," or leaving school with
the intention of returning, remains an important trend among DACA-eligible college students, largely because of the unavailability
of federal financial aid for this population. Indeed, undocumented youth are three times more likely than similar youth to
stop-out. The report concludes with a series of recommendations, including offering immigration relief to family members of
DACA recipients and making DACA recipients eligible for federal and state tuition assistance programs.
In Their Own Words: A Nationwide Survey of Undocumented Millennials,
University of California San Diego, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, Working
Paper 191, May, 2014, 24 pp.
Authors: Tom K. Wong with Carolina Valdivia
This report discusses findings
from a national survey of undocumented young people between the ages of 18 and 35, the vast majority of whom were granted
deferred action under the DACA Program. The survey was commissioned by Unbound Philanthropy and the Own the Dream Research
Institute at United We Dream. Over three-quarters (77 percent) of survey respondents reported annual personal incomes of less
than $25,000. However, a full 70 percent of respondents began their first job or got a new job after receiving deferred action.
The program seems to have strengthened attachment to the country: 64 percent of respondents felt a greater sense of belonging
in the United States after acquiring DACA. However, 66 percent "continue(d) to feel anxious" because they
had undocumented family members or friends who were at risk for deportation. Most applicants for DACA (70 percent) did
not self-file but instead relied on the assistance of legal service providers or attorneys to prepare their applications.
The researchers also queried respondents on their political party affiliation. Although half identified as Democrats, 45 percent
described themselves as Independents or "Other." Finally, several measures indicated that the degree of political
and civic activism among the DACA-eligible population was quite high.
Invitation to a Roundtable: A Discussion of Return on Investment in Adult Education,
Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL), March 17, 2014, 23 pp. + appendices
Authors: James Parker
& Gail Spangenberg
This publication summarizes an invitational CAAL Roundtable attended by 26 national and
state leaders that was convened to provide perspectives on the challenge of producing Return on Investment (ROI) in
adult education. Held in New York City on November 8, 2013, the Roundtable built on an earlier CAAL report entitled
Stepping up to ROI in Adult Education (September, 2013). This earlier report discussed the results of a national
survey of state ABE directors designed to explore state experiences in collecting and using ROI data. Both the
Roundtable and the earlier report were funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The
Roundtable devoted attention to three issues in particular: progress in developing ROI measures in six leadership states (AR,
CA, IN, KY, MN, and VA); the challenge of developing ROI data for "special needs subgroups," i.e. immigrants, correctional
populations, and the working poor; and how data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
might be used to create "the common taxonomy necessary for messaging and communicating ROI..." The Roundtable
concluded with several ideas to supplement the recommendations in the "Stepping Up" report, including the development
of "coherent, integrated, and accessible" state databases which should be able to "track students from one
program type to another and to enable significant wage record matches."
Adult Education and Immigrant Integration: Networks for Integrating New Americans (NINA) Theoretical
World Education, September 30, 2013, 49 pp
Lead Authors: Silja Kallenbach, Kien S. Lee, Susan Downs-Karkos, and
Madeleine Beaubien Taylor
Contributing Authors: Jennifer Brennan and Andy Nash
the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult education, the NINA Initiative will provide intensive technical
assistance to immigrant integration projects in five U.S. communities. The purpose of this report is to outline the theoretical
framework that will guide World Education and its partner organization in selecting sites to participate in the project. NINA
will be guided by a theory of change premised on the importance of collaboration and "alignment" across an array
of organizations, including adult education providers, workforce development programs, public school systems, social service
providers, refugee resettlement agencies, immigrant rights organization, employers, unions, government agencies, and immigrant
mutual assistance associations. According to the authors, as these organizations "align their goals, core competencies,
resources, strategies, and data collection around a common immigrant integration agenda, they will achieve greater impact
related to the three dimensions of integration: linguistic, economic, and civic." The report draws insights from "contemporary
network science," which posits the importance of trust-building, complementary capacities among participating organizations,
a shared measurement system, and a "backbone support organization" with the capacity to coordinate the various elements
of the project. The report also provides details about integration strategies that have proven effective both historically
and in recent years.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the One-Year Mark,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), August, 2013, 16 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova, Sarah Hooker, &
On the one-year anniversary of the DACA program, MPI profiles the young people who have applied
for the program and discusses the barriers faced by those who have not. Application rates show wide variation by state. While
49 percent of the currently eligible population has applied for DACA nationally, states like North Carolina (74 percent) and
Georgia (63 percent) are higher than the national average, whereas states like New York (34 percent) and Florida (35 percent)
are lower. These variations may have something to do with the nationality background of the eligible population; Mexicans,
who comprise 59 percent of all currently eligible youth, have the highest application rate of 64 percent, whereas Colombians
(application rate of 28 percent), Filipinos (16 percent) and Dominicans (14 percent) have the lowest. The report also examines
the plight of the 423,000 individuals who meet all eligibility requirements except for the educational requirement, i.e. lacking
a high school diploma or its equivalent and not enrolled in school. Many have work and parenting responsibilities that prevent
them from returning to school; 71 percent are in the labor force, as compared to 55 percent of currently eligible youth.
Forty-two percent have not completed any high school grades, and over two-thirds are limited English proficient (LEP). The
report proposes an expansion adult education, literacy, and workforce programs for these young people so that they will not
be trapped in unauthorized status.
Immigration Facts: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),
Brookings, August 14, 2013, 9 pp.
Authors: Audrey Singer & Nicole Prchal Svajlenka
of DACA applications uses data obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request to the Dept. of Homeland Security covering
the first 465,509 applications submitted between August 15, 2012, and March 22, 2013. Almost three-quarters of these applicants
had lived in the United States for at least ten years, with large numbers arriving during the peak immigration years of 1998
and 1999. The most common age at arrival was eight; however, almost one-third (31 percent) were five years of age or younger
at arrival. The report gives month-by-month breakdowns of applications. From the peak months of September and October of 2012,
when more than 100,000 applications were received per month, the number of applications has dwindled down to less than 30,000
per month from April through June of 2013. The overall approval rate through March 22, 2013, was 57 percent but varies widely
by nationality. The report includes a chart showing approval rates for the 21 countries of origin with the largest number
Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology Plan
(NETP) for Adult Education,
American Institutes for Research, May 31, 2013, 36 pp.
Funded by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education
(OVAE) of the U.S. Department of Education, this report is described as a "blueprint for education reform enabled by
technology." The report examines how specific components of the congressionally-mandated National Educational Technology
Plan of 2010, developed primarily for the K-12 system, have the potential to transform adult education. The report discusses
promising innovations and makes recommendations in each of five broad areas: engaging and empowering learners, collecting
and analyzing information on student progress, the professional development of teachers, infrastructure development, and measures
to boost the productivity of the entire adult education system while operating within existing resource constraints. Examples
of these measures include new platforms to ensure the "content interoperability" of online learning modules, and
the development of a unified student learning record, showing student achievements and credentials across multiple learning
venues. The report concludes by suggesting that these reforms have "the potential to help the adult education field address
the need for increased infrastructure and capacity to meet the demand of the nearly 40 million people who are in need of adult
basic education but are not served."
Comprehensive Immigration Reform: A Proposal for a Skills Strategy that Supports Economic Growth and
National Skills Coalition, June, 2013, 19 pp.
In order to realize the "tremendous economic potential"
of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), the National Skills Coalition (NSC) puts forth this proposal to help legalized
immigrants satisfy the educational and training requirements for permanent residence. The NSC, a network of 3,200 professionals
in business, labor, education and community-based organizations, argues that provisions in the proposed Senate CIR for skills
investment are deficient in both funding and scope to achieve a system whereby immigrants can proceed to permanent residence
and fully function as productive members of society. NSC proposes the incorporation of three new grant programs into
the Senate immigration reform bill. These programs "would dramatically increase the resources available for skills training...without
increasing the cost of the bill." More than $1.5 billion might be raised through an increase in H-1B visa fees
and by reprogramming a portion of the money in the existing Social Security Earnings Suspense File (ESF), most of which was
contributed by undocumented immigrants. NSC also urges that such investments "use common performance measures that
are consistent with workforce development programs" and that these investments be channeled through the "existing
workforce development infrastructure." Their plan addresses the wide range of immigrants' skill levels and employment
goals and urges a role for community-based organizations "as a bridge into the public workforce system." Finally,
NSC urges that the proposed "Office of Citizenship and New Americans," which will coordinate the federal government's
immigrant integration work, be moved from the Department of Homeland Security to the Executive Office of the President.
Repairing the Nation's Education System for Adult English Learners,
Lexington Institute, July, 2013, 15 pp.
Authors: Sean Kennedy & John Walters
This report argues
that the current system for helping adult immigrants learn English is "broken." As the population of limited English
proficient adults has soared to 23 million, enrollment in federally-funded programs has declined. Even for the small fraction
of immigrants served by these programs, proficiency gains have been low and drop-out rates have been high. The report points
out wide variations among the states in 2009-2010 performance levels. New York, for example, improved proficiency levels for
53 percent of its enrolled ESL students, while New Jersey reported an "abysmal" 27 percent. The authors lay partial
blame for this situation on "traditional government providers," who use a "one-size-fits-all approach,"
schedule course times at inconvenient hours, and fail to adapt instruction to the needs of specific groups of learners,
including people who lack literacy in their native languages. In addition, the metrics used to track student progress, i.e.
single level proficiency gains, have limited value in evaluating program worth. By way of contrast, the report describes and
lauds programs operated by community-based organizations, adult charter schools, and employers. Casa de Maryland, for example,
operates a drop-in English program for day laborers unable to find work on a particular day; the PUENTE Learning Center in
Los Angeles uses a Computer-Assisted Language Learning Project, or CALIS, developed by Duke University to enable students
to learn at their own pace; and the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., the nation's first
charter school for adults, combines workforce training with ESL instruction. The report concludes with three overarching recommendations:
first, hold programs accountable for outcomes through data; second, design programs around learner needs and goals; and third,
establish funding models built around success, including adult public charter schools.
College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education,
MPR Associates, Inc., 2013, 150 pp.
Author: Susan Pimentel
Produced under contract to the
Office of Vocational and Adult Education of the U.S. Department of Education, this report provides guidance in adapting the
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to adult education programs in the U.S. A major goal of the report is to isolate
the content in the areas of English language arts, literacy, and mathematics most relevant to preparing adult students for
success in higher education and training programs. The author believes that there are "non-negotiable knowledge and skills"
that must become the focus of adult education programs in the U.S. However, most adults have limited time for study and come
to programs with "some measure of schooling and a wealth of life experiences, making some CCSS content unnecessary to
include;" programs must be selective in how they incorporate the common core into their work. The project utilized two
independent panels to select the standards with the greatest applicability to the adult student population. Among the broad
themes found in the recommended standards are: complexity (regular practice with complex text): evidence (reading, writing,
and speaking grounded in such texts); and knowledge (building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction). The author recognizes
that there are supports and interventions that must be provided to make the standards relevant for English language learners
and students with learning disabilities, but does not elaborate on what these supports and interventions should be.
Linguistic Marginalities: Becoming American without Learning English
Journal of Transnational American Studies, 2012, 28 pp.
Authors: Miranda E. Wilkerson & Joseph Salmons
Trained in speech and linguistics, the authors of this study challenge the common assumption that learning English
is crucial to the successful integration of immigrants and their children into American society. By studying a 19th
and early 20th century German-American community in southeastern Wisconsin, the researchers found that German monolinguals
did not live on the margins of society, as might be presumed, but were "generally integrated...socially, economically,
and geographically." German monolinguals held jobs across the economic spectrum; they lived "right next
door" to English monolinguals; they showed enthusiasm for American patriotic celebrations; and their commitment to education,
albeit in German, was as strong, if not stronger, than their English-speaking neighbors. Although founded by Anglo-Americans,
and with a substantial presence of non-Germans, the town of Hustisford in Dodge County, according to the authors, may
have been "typical of many towns in America's heartland..." The authors conclude "that an ability to
speak English has never characterized an American identity nor made a person a better citizen."
A Golden Opportunity: Strategies to Focus Adult Education on College and Career,
Learning Works, March, 2013, 16 pp.
Authors: Barbara Baran & Julie Strawn
Noting that "there
is no state in which basic skills looms larger in importance than California" and that "most students in basic skills
programs make minimal progress," this report focuses on "four levers" that can be used to reorient adult education
programs from "basic literacy" (presumably inclusive of ESL instruction) and GED preparation to a system "designed
to help students prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education connected to labor market opportunities." The report
draws from interviews with senior administrators and educators in seven states that have attempted to achieve this type of
educational reform: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Washington. The four levers are:
instituting effective governance structures (the Governor of California has proposed the reinstatement of dedicated state
funding for adult education but shifting administration of this funding from the Department of Education to the community
college system), developing system-wide strategic plans and new funding guidelines, spurring the development of sustainable
and scalable educational initiatives, and using data to make the case for refocusing adult education on college and careers.
The report was prepared by Learning Works, an organization founded by the Career Ladders Project for California Community
Post-traditional Learners and the Transformation of Postsecondary Education: A Manifesto
for College Leaders,
American Council on Education,
January, 2013, 18 pp.
Author: Louis Soares
is facing a disruption, but the biggest driver of change is getting lost in the hype. That's the message of this "manifesto
for college leaders," written by Louis Soares, a fellow at the Center for American Progress. "There is indeed a
transformation coming in American higher education," writes Soares, "It is not driven by technology or MOOCs, though
these tools abet the change. It will be driven by the rise of post-traditional learners." The author defines post-traditional
learners as the working-age population, between ages 25-64, who lack a college credential but are seeking to get ahead while
balancing jobs with educational and family responsibilities. The report argues that colleges must rethink their institutional,
instructional and business models to improve how they serve the post-traditional learner -- a reassessment that may require
"question(ing) the foundations of the academy." In many settings, the post-traditional learner has become the norm
rather than the exception in the educational market of the 21stcentury. The needs and circumstances of these learners
will likely lead to alternative forms of credentialing and learning and the development of a "new ecosystem for learning
validation outside of the academy." Regrettably, the author writes, many college leaders "seem more intent
on protecting the existing enterprise than solving the nettlesome challenges of education an ever more diverse and demanding
group of learners." (Adapted from a review by Paul Fain of "Inside
Strengthening State Systems for Adult Learners: An Evaluation of the First Five Years of Shifting
The Joyce Foundation, December, 2012, 39 pp.
Authors: Brandon Roberts & Derek
The Joyce Foundation launched the Shifting Gears Project in 2007 with the goal of helping six Midwest
states significantly increase the number of low-skilled adults who enter postsecondary education and obtain occupational credit-based
credentials to succeed in the 21st century economy. Between 2007 and 2011, the Foundation awarded a total
of about $8 million in grants to Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, "with the expectation that
officials in these states would pursue a systems change agenda for making existing education and skills development systems
work better for adult learners. Shifting Gears emphasized the need for aligning policy and priorities across adult basic education,
workforce development, and community and technical college systems to improve transitions to postsecondary education."
This evaluation found that four of the six states (Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) "demonstrated traction
on the ground by implementing innovative strategies to serve low-skilled adults...At the end of 2011, about 4,000 low-skilled
adults were participating in new programs -- a modest number that is expected to grow considerably during the next several
years," as new models are scaled up and adopted by more institutions. The report does not provide a breakdown of enrollees
by race, ethnicity or country of birth. One of the conclusions of the evaluation is that states must "repurpose or reallocate
existing financial resources" in order to maintain and expand these new programs. In addition, "it will be important
for states to conduct rigorous analyses that provide credible findings demonstrating the new ways of serving low-skilled adults
is (sic) superior to the status quo."
Preparing for the new GED Test: What to Consider Before 2014,
The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP),
Fall, 2012, 17 pp.
Author: Carol Clymer
part of this policy brief is a primer on the new GED test, scheduled to be introduced in January of 2014. According to
the author, the revamped test will have "profound implications" for low-skilled adults seeking to progress to post-secondary
education and employment. (Reviewer's Note: According to a 2010 Pew study, roughly half of Latino immigrant adults in
the U.S. lack a high school diploma). Potential problems include: increased test costs, fewer test centers, a shift to computerized
testing, and more difficult test content aligned with the common core standards. The author then proceeds to review what states
are doing to address these problems, including efforts to devise different pathways to high school equivalency. Many
states already have non-GED high school equivalency diploma programs, including the National External Diploma Program (NEDP),
credit make-up approaches, and diplomas awarded for college credits. The paper urges WPFP state partners to use the GED test
make-over as an opportunity to raise important questions about the capacity of state systems to help low-skilled adults advance
to higher levels of education and employment. In particular, the author urges policy makers to consider five other non-GED
possibilities for high school equivalency: the National External Diploma Program; competency-based high school equivalency
programs developed in Hawaii, Vermont and Wisconsin; new programs under development in Minnesota and Washington; alternative
adult-appropriate exams, such as those being considered by New York and Texas; and college-credit approaches. It is
imperative, the report concludes, that "all students, especially working adults, have practical and cost-effective options
to meet their basic skill and educational needs."
Graduating to College: Three States Helping Adult Education Students Get a College
The Working Poor Families Project, Policy Brief, Summer, 2012, 16 pp.
This policy brief discusses the obstacles facing low-income adults seeking to improve their economic circumstances
through post-secondary education. It also showcases three states that have made "creative leaps forward" in developing
educational pathways for this population and makes recommendations for state policy makers interested in helping low-income
adults transition to higher education. The three states (Kentucky, Maine, and Minnesota) were chosen because they have
many adult education providers outside the community college system, and thus must achieve alignment and articulation of different
systems, i.e. local education agencies (K-12 school systems), community-based organizations, and community colleges. Kentucky
Adult Education promotes access to postsecondary education by setting statewide and county-level goals, e.g. number of adults
earning GEDs who transition to postsecondary education, and by conducting a "Go Higher Kentucky" marketing campaign.
Maine's "College Transitions" program is a preparatory course, serving 4.4 percent of the state's total adult education
population that builds the skills to enter college within a 12-18 month period. Finally, Minnesota FastTRAC is a career
pathways program for adults who have low skills or limited English proficiency. Offered in five stages, each "bridge"
class combines basic skills instruction with occupationally-specific post-secondary training. Since 2011, 34 Minnesota FastTRAC
programs have been implemented on 20 college campuses. (Lorin
Adult College Completion Tool Kit,
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education
(OVAE), 2012, 69 pp.
This publication contains "a wealth
of resources and tools" to help undereducated adults transition to postsecondary education. In producing the Tool
Kit, OVAE seeks to advance President Obama's goal for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates
in the world by 2020. The primary audience for the Tool Kit are administrators of state literacy programs and adult education
practitioners. The publication outlines effective strategies for college transition and organizes them into three categories:
facilitating access to college, ensuring quality of instruction, and promoting college completion. Sidebars give examples
of effective programs. An appendix contains links to, and descriptions of, more than 50 resources discussed in the report,
many of them developed with OVAE funding. The Tool Kit also includes handouts for four target student populations: adult basic
education students, incarcerated individuals, veterans, and high-skilled immigrants.
Dreaming Big: What Community Colleges
Can Do to Help Undocumented Immigrant Youth Achieve their Potential,
Community College Consortium for Immigrant
Education (CCCIE), September, 2012
This report profiles "the
exemplary practices of community colleges that are improving the educational prospects of undocumented students." CCCIE
is a national network of 23 community colleges and other organizations that have joined forces to address the needs of immigrant
students. The report details the many challenges faced by undocumented students in accessing and completing higher education.
Despite these challenges, such as lack of eligibility for federation tuition or work study assistance, a number of community
colleges have developed strategies and approaches that are enhancing educational opportunities for these students. These approaches
are grouped into five categories: increase college access, make college more affordable, support college readiness and success,
offer pathways for nontraditional students, and improve college retention and completion. The report also reviews research
findings suggesting a substantial return on investment through enhanced services and supports for these students. Finally,
the publication provides contact information for ten of the colleges whose policies and practices are highlighted in the report,
as well as links to resources that may prove useful to colleges working with this population.
New Americans in Postsecondary Education:
A Profile of Immigrant and Second-Generation American Undergraduates,
National Center for Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, July,
2012, 29 pp.
Using data from a nationwide sample of undergraduate
students conducted in 2007-2008, this study focuses on the differences in postsecondary education enrollment between immigrant
and non-immigrant students. Twenty-three percent of undergraduates in the survey were immigrant and second-generation
Americans. Larger percentages of Hispanic and Asian new Americans (32-38 percent) were in the lowest income group than
all undergraduates (25 percent). Hispanic and Asian New Americans were also more likely to have a parent who did not attend
college at 55 percent and 38 percent versus 33 percent of all undergraduates. In high school, 25 percent of Hispanics
took calculus compared to 46 percent of Asians and 29 percent of all undergraduates. Hispanic immigrants were also more
likely to take remedial courses at 52 percent than Asian immigrants (40 percent) and all undergraduates (35 percent).
In terms of postsecondary enrollments, immigrant Hispanic and Asian students enrolled in community colleges at 51 percent
and 54 percent as opposed to all undergraduates at 44 percent. However, second-generation Asian students enrolled in
4-year colleges at 55 percent, which was higher than Hispanics (36 percent) and all undergraduates (46 percent). Immigrant
Asians (40 percent) and Hispanics (36 percent) had lower rates of full-time enrollment in school than all undergraduates (47
percent). Finally, the report found that Asians had a greater propensity to major in STEM fields or business than Hispanics
or all undergraduates. (Lorin Mordecai)
In a Time of Scarce Resources: Near Term Priorities in Adult Education,
Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL), July 25, 2012, 41 pp.
Faced with an adult education
system needing both "transformative change" and the infusion of new resources -- as called for in the
2008 report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, CAAL conducted a survey of 24 "highly regarded adult education
leaders" to get their recommendations as to what could be accomplished in the present "environment of limited resources."
These leaders achieved "strong convergence or near-convergence" on four near-term priorities that would advance
the larger agenda of the Commission. One priority would be to move toward a "dominant model" of managed enrollment
and high intensity classes in order to accelerate learning gains. Even if the number of students served by such an approach
would drop due to higher per-student costs, the trade-off between "quality of service" and "quantity of students"
was worth making. Other priorities included: a strong and sustained commitment to teacher training (CAAL recommends a 15 percent
federal set-aside for staff development), greater use of technology both for staff development and instruction, and
reliance on "creative funding" approaches, such as charging modest fees to students to participate in classes and
the establishment of an "independent national training trust fund."
Limited English Proficient Workers and the Workforce Investment Act: Challenges
Migration Policy Institute, July 19, 2012, 8 pp.
policy brief examines the capacity of the U.S. workforce investment system to serve immigrants with limited English proficiency
(LEP) and reviews proposals to improve the effectiveness of the system. According to the report, there has been a steep
decline in the number of LEP immigrants served by Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Although constituting 37
percent of all low-skilled workers in the U.S., LEP workers represented 2 percent of all adults receiving training services
in PY 2010 -- down from 9.5 percent in PY 2000. Similar declines occurred in Title I programs for youth and dislocated workers.
One reason for these declines may be built-in disincentives to serve the LEP population as a result of performance standards
under Title I emphasizing rapid employment. The brief discusses initiatives pending in Congress to create greater alignment
between Title I and Title II (Title II provides ESL and basic skills instruction). These initiatives include: consolidation
of funding streams, giving greater latitude to the states to manage programs, establishing common performance measures across
both titles, altering the composition of local workforce investment boards, and requiring states to detail plans for serving
LEP populations using co-enrollment strategies. According to the author, in the current debate over reauthorization of the
Workforce Investment Act, immigrants may have the most to gain or lose.
Sinking or Swimming: Findings from a Survey of State Adult Education Tuition and Financing Policies,
CLASP & the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education, June,
2012, 28 pp.
Forty-four states responded to a survey conducted in February of 2012 "to glean information
about important policies that govern the way adult education is funded." The survey covers the following issues:
administering state agency, levels of state and local supplementation of federal dollars, policies governing distribution
of federal and state dollars to education providers, the availability of special funding to foster post-secondary transitions,
state tuition and fee policies, and state responses to impending changes in the GED. In reporting survey results, the
report raises policy issues in each of these areas deserving consideration by policy makers. The report finds that "the
adult education system faces monumental financial and policy challenges" caused by "declining state support, stagnant
federal funding, and the potential increased cost of taking the GED... At no time in recent history has the importance of
adult education been greater and the funding more threatened." One key finding is that the actual level of
nonfederal contributions appears to be $1.30 for every $1.00 in federal funding, rather than the commonly reported $3.50 for
every $1.00. Although 24 states now require or allow modest registration or tuition charges to students, the report concludes
that "raising costs to students should not be a part of the revenue mix" as it will likely drive low-income
students out of the program. The dilemma can be reduced to a single question: "How can the adult education
system continue improving its effectiveness and meet higher expectations for students with fewer resources each year?"
(Italics in report)
Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research,
National Research Council of the National Academies, 2012, 488 pp.
comprehensive report is the culmination of a 36-month study funded by the National Institute for Literacy and the U.S. Department
of Education to review and synthesize the available research on how to improve literacy instruction for adults in the U.S.,
including immigrant adult English language learners. The authors observe that "there is a surprising lack of rigorous
research on effective approaches to adult literacy instruction." Hence, the report relies extensively on relevant research
with K-12 and other populations. One chapter of the report discusses "language and literacy development for English language
learners." Although sometimes viewed as "a monolithic category," English language learners, the report points
out, "vary dramatically in what they need to become more literate in English." Another chapter of the report explores
the potential of technology to "amplify effective instructional approaches." Still other chapters are devoted to
learner motivation and persistence, and educating adult learners with disabilities. The final chapter summarizes the main
conclusions of the study and contains several global recommendations, including a systematic program of research addressing
key issues in the field.
Training Futures: A Case Study of a Nonprofit-Community College Partnership,
Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative, May, 2012, 20 pp.
This study examines Training Futures, a job training program operated as a partnership between Northern Virginia
Family Service (NVFS) and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). The program prepares low-income, predominately immigrant
adults (74 percent of participants are non-native English speakers) for career and educational advancement. Training Futures
uses an "imaginaleducation model" involving immersion in a simulated business environment. The program
also provides an array of support services, including exposure to 400 inspirational messages called "quotes bombardment."
Through collaboration with NOVA, the program is able to serve as a "stepping stone," with NOVA counselors providing
workshops and one-on-one advice to assist participants in making the transition to college. NOVA also collaborates by attracting
a network of stakeholders from the business community to serve as mentors, create internship opportunities, and provide input
on program curriculum. Training Futures uses a blended funding model to support operations; NOVA and NVFS have a revenue
sharing arrangement with 85 percent of program tuition income going to NVFS. Although NOVA employs NVFS staff as adjunct faculty,
their salaries are paid for by NVFS. With a low attrition rate and high job placement, the collaboration has proven
successful: nearly 94 percent of participants complete the 6 month program and 84 percent of Training Futures' graduates have
found jobs. Many participants finish the program with college credits and 30 percent continue on with coursework at NOVA.
Additionally, outcomes have demonstrated higher median wages for program participants, with an average hourly rate increase
of $3.02 per hour for those who were employed at the time of enrollment. Finally, the program has been successful in helping
immigrants acculturate to the U.S. job market as well as "legitimize" their foreign credentials by providing a program
certificate and assisting with the transfer of credit for previously completed coursework. (Daniel McNulty)
Educational Attainment in the United States: 2009,
United States Census Bureau, February, 2012
report provides a portrait of educational attainment in the United States, including comparisons by demographic characteristics
such as nativity, race, Hispanic origin, and race; and breakdowns by state. Twelve levels of educational attainment
are reported from "no schooling completed" to "doctorate degree." In 19 of the 50 states (including Maryland,
New Jersey and Pennsylvania), the proportion of foreign-born adults with a bachelor's degree was larger than the proportion
of native-born adults who had completed colleges. Similarly, rates of high school completion for the foreign-born in these
three states were more than ten percentage points higher than the national average of 67.7 percent.
Center for an Urban Future (CUF), January, 2012, 12 pp.
follow-up to CUF's 2006 Lost in Translation Report explores the policy implications of New York State's growing immigrant
population and the declining availability of state-funded ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) classes. The report finds
that, despite the significant benefits immigrants bring to the state economy--- in terms of population replenishment, entrepreneurship,
and labor--- "New York is not leveraging their full potential." According to the authors, ESOL classes serve as
an essential building block for increasing the skills and knowledge necessary to employment. Yet capacity has not kept pace
with the growing need for instruction. The report sites two major factors in declining enrollment trends: a decrease
in inflation adjusted state-funding for ESOL and a move towards higher-quality, longer-term education. While improving
outcomes for learners, according to the report, smaller class sizes and extended course length has reduced the capacity of
many ESOL programs to serve a majority of those that seek their assistance. The report also finds fault with the Employment
Preparation Education (EPE) funding formula based on county property values. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations
calling for state and local governments to increase funding and develop collaborative partnerships amongst agencies and service
providers. (Dan McNulty)
Up for Grabs: The Gains and Prospects of First- and Second-Generation
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), November, 2011, 54 pp.
by the Gates foundation, this study seeks to determine whether immigrant-origin youth, defined as young people ages 16 to
26 either born in another country or with parents born in another country, are "on track to complete post-secondary education
and obtain jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage." Immigrant-origin youth now make up 25 percent of all U.S. young
people in this age category (38 percent in New Jersey, and 37 percent in New York). From 1995 to 2007, the majority of immigrant-origin
youth were born in other countries. By 2010, the second generation surpassed the first generation and now numbers 14.1
million compared to 10.3 million immigrant youth. The study disaggregates data by generation, age at arrival, Hispanic
vs non-Hispanic origin, and gender, and presents a mixed picture of progress. On the one hand, Hispanic second generation
women are enrolling in college at the same rate as third-generation non-Hispanic white women, yet their college completion
rates are significantly lower (33 percent compared to 51 percent). One of the more vulnerable groups are Hispanic immigrants
in the 16- to 26-year-old age category who entered the U.S. at age 16 or later. According to the report, two-thirds
have poor English skills, many have limited or interrupted education in their home countries, and more than 70 percent are
unauthorized and unlikely to qualify for legalization under the DREAM Act. Those seeking to improve their educational
or work-related skills will have to rely on an underfunded adult educational system with "limited capacity to integrate
English language instruction in the context of work." MPI will continue its exploration of this subject in the
future by examining policies and programs designed to serve different sub-sets of the immigrant-origin youth population.
Increasing Opportunities for Immigrant Students: Community College Strategies for Success,
Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE), November, 2011, 47 pp.
CCCIE is network of 23 community colleges and other organizations that have joined
together to increase educational and workforce opportunities for immigrant students. This report, written by CCCIE Director
Jill Casner-Lotto, seeks to identify the key elements of a comprehensive and systemic approach to the challenge of educating
immigrant students. A growing demographic for community colleges, immigrant students are often older, nontraditional
students juggling jobs and family responsibilities. The report proposes a "framework" of "11 key factors"
predictive of success in this area. These include: executive-level commitment, proactive outreach, community-wide needs analysis,
ESL program redesign, comprehensive assessment, holistic support services, more sophisticated data collection efforts, faculty
professional development, student leadership development, multi-sector partnerships, and peer-learning efforts. The
report describes "promising practices" in each of these areas. The report concludes with a series of recommendations
for action and investment by federal, state, and private funders.
Supporting Skilled Immigrants: A Toolkit for ESL Practitioners,
Global Talent Bridge, World Education Services, 2011, 83 pp.
publication discusses the dilemma of the 2.7 million foreign-trained professionals in the U.S., who are unemployed or under-employed,
and who are not well served by most adult education and workforce systems. Through the use of a series of "critical incidents,"
drawn from real-life stories of such immigrants, the Toolkit attempts to develop a list of "do's and don'ts" when
working with this population. The report emphasizes the importance of developing effective intake tools and using contextualized
instruction in the classroom. The Toolkit concludes with a chapter profiling four model programs targeting this population:
the English Health Train initiative of the California Welcome Back Center, the Washington State I-BEST Program; the Massachusetts
Integrated Career Awareness Curriculum; and the English for International Professionals program of the Spring Institute for
Intercultural Learning of Colorado.
Talent is Ready: Promising Practices for Helping Immigrant Professionals
Establish Their American Careers,
IMPRINT, 2011, 30 pp.
Drawing on the collective experience
of the five nonprofit organizations (active in 11 states) that make up the IMPRINT coalition, this report addresses the challenge
of serving the 2.7 million college-educated immigrants in the U.S. who are unemployed or under-employed. Describing the impact
of this underutilization of talent as "staggering - lost wages, lost productivity, and a squandering of human capital,"
the authors sketch the outlines of a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of this population. The first section
provides guidance on the initial assessment of an immigrant professional, including the credential evaluation process and
the usefulness of an empowerment model in relating to program participants. The second section discusses three skill-building
processes that are vital to career re-integration: learning English, acquiring technical skills, and refining professional
job search skills. The final section discusses opportunities for organizational capacity-building, including integrating volunteers
and engaging employers. As the challenge of serving immigrant professionals is an emerging one, the five IMPRINT organizations
seek to scale up "the patchwork of innovative programs and ideas" that exist now. They emphasize the importance
of data-driven advocacy and envision a role for policy-makers and philanthropy in the program development process.
Improving Immigrants' Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language
Migration Policy Institute & European University Institute, June, 2011, 11
Noting the failure of "umbrella language courses" to give immigrants
"a tangible boost in the labor market," this policy brief outlines a series of promising approaches from both
the American and European contexts to link language instruction with occupational training and to address the pressures and
challenging life circumstances facing immigrants. Among these approaches are: contextualizing language training
for workplace use; combining language and skills training based on the model pioneered by Washington State's I-BEST program;
developing formal partnerships between employers and training providers, including worksite instruction models; and accommodating
the needs of non-traditional students by offering evening and weekend classes, self-study options through greater use of technology,
and child care assistance.
Breaking the Language Barrier: A Report on English Language Services
in Greater Boston,
Commonwealth Corporation, March, 2011, 92 pp
by The Boston Foundation, this report utilizes provider surveys, key informant interviews, site visits to model programs,
and a focus group with immigrant adult learners, to produce a detailed portrait of the adult English language service system
in the Boston area. The researchers also analyzed demographic data and program performance reports to identify capacity
issues and service gaps. A number of maps pinpoint the location of specialized services, such as intensive or weekend
classes. The report summarizes areas of system strength and weakness and concludes with a series of recommendations, including
efforts to coordinate services to eliminate duplication and provide greater differentiation of instruction for students
with different learning goals, increased weekend and summer classes, more intensive learning options (20 hours per week or
greater), more classes at advanced SPL levels to permit students to transition to post-secondary education, and greater use
of technology and distance learning particularly for the 45,000 LEP immigrants in the Greater Boston area with at least a
bachelor's degree from their home countries.
Certifying Adult Education Staff and Faculty,
Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL), January 3, 2011, 88 pp
Commissioned by CAAL for a Roundtable held in June 2010, this paper reviews the range of certification practices
and issues in the adult education field, of which ESL education for adult immigrants is a part. The paper discusses the reasons
why certification is an issue, including the "long-standing, but poorly documented, sense among various interest groups
that adult education teachers are not as qualified as teachers in other parts of the educational system..." The
authors describe adult education teacher certification as "piecemeal, extremely varied from state to state, and generally
voluntary rather than required." At present, no state has any kind of pre-service requirement of course work in adult
education, although about two-thirds of the states require a bachelor's degree and/or K-12 teaching credential before beginning
to teach adults. Fifteen states encourage or require teachers to obtain certification in teaching adults afterthey
Sound Investments: Building Immigrants' Skills to Fuel Economic
Economic Mobility Corporation, December, 2010,
This report is based on the proposition that immigrant skill development is crucial to American economic development
and prosperity. Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the report examines three major approaches to immigrant skill
development: returning to school, workplace education, and self-employment. Within separate chapters devoted to
each of these approaches, the author outlines key strategies that appear to be associated with successful outcomes. Although
noting the paucity of immigrant-focused programs offering pathways to family-sustaining employment, the author profiles a
number of programs around the country that appear to be achieving positive results. In doing this research, the author conducted
over 100 interviews, made eight site visits, and did a literature review.
National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 2010, 73 pp.
The Action Plan contains seven goals, each with recommended strategies, to address the growing challenges
most Americans face in understanding health information. Because the challenges are especially severe among minorities, immigrants,
and people from lower socioeconomic groups, Goal 4 urges stakeholders from diverse fields to "support and expand local
efforts to provide adult education, English language instruction, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health information
services in the community." The plan grew out of the 2006 Surgeon General's Workshop on Improving Health Literacy, a
series of town hall meetings in 2007 and 2008, and feedback from stakeholder organizations in 2009.
Meeting the Need? English Language Learners and Immigrant
Adult Learners in the Illinois Adult Education System,
Rob Paral & Associations for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,
2010, 37 pp.
Funded by the Joyce Foundation and the Illinois Dept. of Human Services,
the report seeks to understand the special educational needs of adult English language learners (ELLs) in the State of Illinois.
More than half of adult ELLs and other immigrant adult learners live in the Chicago suburbs, compared to only 28% of native-born
adult learners. About a third of adult immigrant learners have six or fewer years of formal education, compared to 10% of
the native-born population. The report also notes that English language ability seems to be correlated with higher household
income levels and lower poverty levels. The report urges greater state investment in immigrant adult education in order
to increase workforce productivity and competitiveness. Other recommendations include: more attention to the educational
needs of lower-level immigrant learners, adjustments in funding streams to reflect the growing concentration of immigrants
in the Chicago suburbs, greater integration of the workforce training and adult education systems, and greater utilization
of community-based organizations as educational providers because of their "cultural competency," physical presence
in immigrant communities, and ability to provide supportive services for learners, such as child care.
Using Oral Language Skills to Build on the Emerging Literacy of Adult English
Center for Adult English Acquisition (CAELA), Center for Applied
Linguistics, August, 2010, 8 pp.
Using an estimate of 750,000 adult immigrants
in the U.S. who are not literate in any language, but who may possess oral English proficiency, the authors of this research
brief suggest that instructional techniques should be adapted to capitalize on the oral skills of these students. One such
approach is producing and analyzing learner-generated texts, which "connects instruction to learners' lives."
Another is to "balance meaning-focused and form-focused instruction."
DREAM vs. Reality: An Analysis of Potential DREAM Act Beneficiaries,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2010, 23 pp.
This report analyzes the barriers that would stand in the way of undocumented youth legalizing under the terms
of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. If passed by Congress, the law would theoretically
benefit as many as 2.1 million people between the ages of 16 and 34. However, significant numbers would be unable to meet
the educational and/or military service requirements during the 6-year period of conditional residence. If they fail to meet
those requirements, their status would revert to undocumented at the end of the six-year period. The biggest challenge would
be faced by an estimated 490,000 out-of-school youth lacking a high school diploma or GED. Not only would they have to finish
high school or obtain a GED, but they would also have to successfully complete two years of post-secondary education or military
service -- all during the 6-year period. Many people in this situation are poor, lack proficiency in English, are working
or have child care responsibilities. Moreover, under the most recent version of the DREAM Act, conditional residents would
be ineligible for Pell grants to cover the cost of college tuition. However, adult education programs and community colleges
around the country, and particularly in states like New Jersey with large numbers of undocumented youth, would likely face
a surge in demand for instructional services. MPI estimates that New Jersey has 90,000 potential Dream Act beneficiaries.
Professional Development for Experienced Teachers Working with Adult English
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA), Center for Applied Linguistics,
May, 2010, 10 pp.
This research brief attempts to identify the characteristics
of the experienced adult English language teacher, as opposed to the novice teacher or the "experienced non-expert,"
and notes that professional development for such teachers has generally been neglected. Reviewing the limited amount of research
data on this subject, mostly drawn from K-12 studies, the authors identify and explain three broad strategies that have proven
effective in teacher development: classroom-based action research; mentoring, coaching, and peer observation; and opportunities
for reflection, including study circles. These strategies may be initiated by practitioners themselves or by a program,
district, region or state.
Evidence-Based, Student-Centered Instructional Practices,
Center for Adult English Acquisition (CAELA), Center for Applied Linguistics, April, 2010, 8 pp.
In this brief, CAELA reviews studies testing the efficacy of student-centered instructional approaches
and reports that four specific practices are supported by the research: promoting interaction among learners in small
groups and pairs; using native language in the classroom when practical and appropriate; connecting instruction with learners'
lives; and teaching learning strategies explicitly.
Local Perspectives on WIA Reauthorization,
Policy Brief, Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy, March 26, 2010, 21 pp.
On February 18, 2010, CAAL convened an all-day, roundtable meeting of 19 local adult
education providers operating model "adult education for work" programs. The purpose of the convening was to recommend
changes to the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to facilitate transitions to work and post-secondary education. Addressing the
perception of adult education "as a failed system with limited learning gains and low persistence," the participants
urged "substantial, systematic, and categorical support" for adult education for work, revised accountability measures
based on "momentum points" in students' lives, greater flexibility in program design to meet local need, articulation
agreements between colleges and local education programs, and recognition that people with low basic skills are a major portion
of the population to be served. This report provides a detailed summary of the conversation and recommendations.
Adult Student Waiting List Survey, 2009-2010,
National Council of State Directors of Adult Education, March 24, 2010, 7 pp.
Sent to over 4,000 programs providing adult education services in the United States, this survey found that
some 160,000 potential learns (6,680 in New Jersey) were unable to access services during the year, doubling from the 80,000
reported in the 2008 survey. The 2009 numbers are compiled only from the 1,368 programs that returned the survey.
Promoting Learner Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Work: Developing
Academic Readiness Skills from the Beginning,
Policy Brief, Center for Adult English Language Acquisition
(CAELA), Center for Applied Linguistics, March, 2010, 13 pp
for ESL teachers, this brief makes the case for the early introduction of "academic readiness skills" into the adult
ESL curriculum in order to facilitate transitions to postsecondary education or vocational training. Although acknowledging
that certain "higher order skills" can't be taught until students reach advanced ESL levels, the authors give examples
of certain skills, such as reading for specific information and organizing information graphically, that can be taught to
beginning English language learners.
Handbook on Adult English Language Learning,
American Justice Center (AAJC), 2009, 86 pp.
(Original Link Broken)
to 20009, AAJC played a major role in examining the field of adult English language learning (ELL) in the United States.
The organization was instrumental in hosting two national conferences in 2006 and 2008 bringing policy makers and practitioners
together to develop recommendations for advancement of the field. This Handbook contains a collection of resources developed
during this process, including summaries of the two conferences; a messaging guide designed for use in advocating for new
resources for adult English language instruction based on findings from seven focus groups and a survey of 1,500 registered
voters; a study of ELL programs around the country, including their student profiles, funding characteristics, educational
goals, major challenges, and "priorities for assistance;" and a collection of data supporting the need for investment
in the immigrant adult education field.
The Power of Technology to Transform Adult Learning,
Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy, October 21, 2009, 65 pp.
This report calls for "wholesale change" in the nation's adult education and workforce skills training
effort "by deploying technology on an unprecedented scale." Such change will open up doors of opportunity for millions
of adults, including English language learners, un-served by the existing system. The author, Mary L. McCain, an Affiliate
Fellow at the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, provides a summary of existing research on the uses and impact
of technology in adult education. She asserts that "many assumptions about the reluctance of adults to use technology
in independent learning are misinformed." She also questions an approach that simply "attaches" technology
to the existing delivery system. A major recommendation is the development of a National Web Portal, available to both learners
and professional educators.
Literacy Matters: Helping Newcomers Unlock
TD Bank Financial Group, 2009,
This Canadian report cites evidence that poor language and literacy skills not only account
for some of the labor market challenges facing recent immigrants but also negatively impact Canada’s economy and society.
The report discusses the "puzzle" of rising education levels among immigrants (over half of immigrants to Canada
between 2001 and 2006 had a university degree) and high levels of unemployment and underemployment, particularly since 1996.
The authors conclude that weak communication skills in Canada's two official languages probably "contribute between one-third
to two-thirds of earnings gap" between immigrants and native-born Canadians. The report also contains an analysis
of publicly-funded, language training programs in Canada.
This study surveys the landscape of adult English language instruction in the United
States and urges greater collaboration and information-sharing among the three federal agencies most heavily involved in the
delivery of English language services to the adult immigrant population: Education, HHS, and Labor. The authors note
that only the federal Department of Education tracks performance data specific to English language learners through its Adult
Education State Grant Program, making it difficult to assess the effectiveness of a "multifaceted" federal
effort. The report also examines the extent of coordination among providers on the state and local level, and mentions
numerous promising practices. Twelve states, including New Jersey, were selected for in-depth study, on the basis of the size
or rate of growth of their LEP populations. The GAO concludes by recommending regular meetings among federal agencies to develop
joint initiatives, the development of time frames for the accomplishment of interdepartmental objectives, and a coordinated
approach to research on effective educational practices in the field.
Expanding Horizons: Pacesetters in Adult Education
Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy,
June 26, 2009, 27 pp
The author of this report calls for a "radical transformation" of adult education in the U.S. to
create career and job pathways. The report summarizes the findings of a Roundtable of adult education for work practitioners
convened by the Council on April 6-7, 2009. The report discusses the range of obstacles to reform, including the challenge
of building collaborations across institutional lines, creating new longitudinal measures for tracking student outcomes, accessing
reliable data on current and future workforce hiring trends, and the greater costs associated with this type of instruction.
While not dismissing the importance of "traditional" forms of adult education, such as ESL, citizenship, and family
literacy programs, the report argues that adult education for work should become "the predominant growth sector of adult
Taking Limited English Proficient Adults
into Account in the Federal Adult Education Funding Formula,
Policy Institute, June, 2009, 11 pp.
II of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 is the primary federal funding source for both general adult literacy education
and adult English language instruction in the United States. As Congress considers reauthorization of WIA, this report suggests
that the time is ripe to "revisit" the current state funding formula. The current formula is based on the number
of individuals in each state lacking a high school diploma. As such, the formula omits from consideration the 11.2 million
limited English proficient adults in the United States with high school diplomas, who although eligible to participate in
WIA-funded programs, are not counted in the formula. It also fails to consider the greater costs associated with educating
immigrants, who may need both literacy and English language training. The report notes the adverse impact of the formula on
northeastern states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, where there are more immigrants with high school diplomas
than elsewhere in the United States.
The Importance of Social Interaction and Support for
Women Learners: Evidence from Family Literacy Programs,
Research Brief #2,
Goodling Institute for Research on Family Literacy, Pennsylvania State University, May, 2008, 5 pp.
Based in part
on interviews and focus groups conducted with immigrant learners, this research brief emphasizes the "psychosocial"
value of center-based programs for women in poverty. According to the authors, classroom-based "relationships are c
rucial to physical, mental, social, and economic well-being, yet they are
often considered less important than instrumental outcomes such as increasing children’s school readiness or obtaining
Empty Promises: The Unmet Need for ESL Instruction across
Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, May, 2009, 42 pp.
(Original Link Broken)
This report urges
an enhanced role for community-based organizations (CBOs) in the delivery of ESL education in Illinois and questions the soundness
of a 2001 decision to transfer responsibility for adult education from the Illinois State Board of Education to the Illinois
Community College Board. The report laments plunging class enrollments at a time of growing need for language instruction
and spotlights the innovative educational work of several CBOs in the greater Chicago area. Finally, the report calls for
true partnerships between community colleges and CBOs to improve educational outcomes for low-level ESL learners.
This brief offers pointers
for supervisors overseeing adult ESL programs, many of which use part-time or volunteer teachers. In 2006, only
15% of adult ESL teachers in the United States were full-time teachers. 49% were part-time, and 35% were volunteers. At the
same time, some supervisors lack sufficient formal training in adult ESL language instruction. The brief describes a "collaborative
approach" to supervision, as well as professional development approaches, suitable for such situations.
Uses of Technology in the Instruction of Adult English
Language Learners,Center for Adult English Language Acquisition,
Center for Applied Linguistics, February, 2009
explores the potential of new technology to promote language learning and to create new opportunities for interaction between
and among students and instructors. The brief reviews research on onsite, blended, and online approaches and summarizes key
issues that should be considered when using technology to support instruction for English language learners.
Expanding ESL, Civics, and Citizenship Education in Your Community: A Start-Up
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 2009
handbook is designed for community, faith-based, civic organizations, and employers interested in setting up volunteer-based
programs to help adult immigrants adjust to life in the United States, learn English, and prepare for citizenship. The publication
provides a number of program planning tools, including the outline of a program development plan, as well as tips on classroom
organization and student assessment. The handbook includes sections on strategies for volunteer recruitment, including sample
job descriptions and tutor agreement forms, and approaches to marketing the program to prospective students.
The Vital Role of Community Colleges in the Education
and Integration of Immigrants,
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants
and Refugees, 2008, 25 pp.
Referring to community colleges as the "Ellis Island" of higher education,
this report outlines numerous ways that foundations can strenghten the immigrant integration work of community colleges. The
report highlights some of the more innovative community college programs around the country, including multi-institutional
projects, such as the "Achieving the Dream" initiative of the Lumina Foundation, the "Project Shine" initiative
of Temple University, and Washington State's I-Best Program. In addition, projects and strategies at the following
individual colleges are profiled: Bunker Hill Community College (Boston), Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn,
NY), LaGuardia Community College (Queens, NY), The College of Lake County (Suburban Chicago), City College of San Francisco,
and Pima Community College (Tucson).
Building Capacity for ESL, Legal Services, and Citizenship:
A Guide for Philanthropic Investments and Partnerships,
with Immigrants and Refugees, 2008, 39 pp.
Arguing that the "time is ripe" for local and regional
foundations to help develop "a strong infrastructure of services" to facilitate the integration of immigrants, the
authors of this guide offer a series of practical suggestions for consideration by the philanthropic community. Topics include:
techniques for community mapping, promising ESL program practices, attributes of successful citizenship assistance programs,
and the advantages of collaborative funding. The guide features sidebars about successful projects around the country.
Reclaiming Voice: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant
Women Learning English,
CERIS - The Ontario Metropolis, Centre, Policy Matters,
November, 2008, 5 pp.
This policy brief is drawn
from a larger study undertaken by researchers at Ryerson University who sought to understand why significant numbers of Canadian
immigrant women were slow to learn English. The study found that women's language needs were different from those of men and
that a "one-dize-fits-all" approach to language instruction was not effective in reaching female immigrants.
Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning,
National Institute for Literacy, October, 2008, 43 pp.
Acknowledging the paucity of
research data, especially about adults engaged in online learning outside the confines of formal programs, as well as the
impediment of the digital divide, the author of this report concludes that "learners at even the lowest levels of
literacy and language proficiency can engage with online learning content." Not only does this approach facilitate
"self-directed learning," but it also holds out the promise of "boosting system capacity" so that more
adults can benefit from current programs. To realize this goal, research must pinpoint the kinds of supports necessary
to facilitate online learning, taking into consideration the advance of mobile technology which may supercede desktop equipment
and broadband connections.
This paper reviews available research on the special challenges associated with teaching English
to adult immigrants with limited literacy in native language. Among the issues covered in the paper are: how to define
"ESL literacy learners," how to assess literacy levels, whether acquistion of native language literacy
improves outcomes in English, and the training needs of instructors working with this population. The paper laments the "amorphous
nature of the field itself - existing in the grey area between two fields (ESL and literacy) that tend to operate under different
certification, funding and policy frameworks."
Adult ESL Teacher Credentialing and Certification,
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, Center for Applied Linguistics, January, 2008, 8 pp.
Recognizing the importance of developing a qualified teacher workforce in
the field of immigrant adult education, the authors of this report review current state practices related to teacher credentialing
and certification. The report also features a section on the efforts of professional associations to implement content
and teacher standards for adult English language programs.
Professional Development for Adult ESL
Practitioners: Building Capacity,
for Adult English Language Acquisition, Center for Applied Linguistics, October, 2007, 17 pp.
In an effort to
address the dearth of professional development opportunities for adult ESL practitioners, this research brief reviews the
literature on professional development from 1990 to 2007 and identifies eight key components of successful professional development.
Workplace Instruction and Workforce Preparation
for Adult Immigrants,
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, Center for
Applied Linguistics, September, 2007, 8 pp.
policy brief discusses and evaluates various strategies for helping immigrants succeed in the workplace, including workplace
classes, vocational classes, and community ESL programs.
Research Utilization in the Field of Adult Learning
and Literacy: Lessons Learned by NCSALL About Connecting Practice, Policy, and Research,
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy
(NCSALL), Harvard Graduate School of Education, August, 2007, 39 pp.
This "swan song" paper was published upon conclusion of NCSALL's 10-year history as a major national
research and dissemination center in the field of adult education funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The paper is
written for policymakers at the national and state level concerned about promoting evidence-based adult education practice.
The paper outlines the "five main lessons" learned by NCSALL in its quest to connect practice, policy, and research.
NCSALL's partners included the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, Portland State University, the Center for Literacy Studies
at the University of Tennessee, and World Education.
Adult English Language Instruction in the United
States: Determining Need and Investing Wisely, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, Migration
Policy Institute, July 2007, 24pp.
authors of this report argue that learning to speak, read, and write in the English language is "among the most neglected
domestic policy issues in our nation today." Using available census data and a set of assumptions about demand for classroom
instruction, as well as the likelihood of self-study and computer-based alternatives to traditional classroom instruction,
the report estimates that $200 million a year would be necessary to serve the existing legal immigrant population. Costs would
skyrocket in the event of a legalization program for unauthorized workers. Finally, the authors suggest that these costs could
be met through various funding mechanisms, which are spelled out in the report.
A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, January, 2007, 192 pp.
Responding to the challenge of integrating a record
number of immigrants, The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York,
interviewed hundreds of experts and community representatives from around the country to determine the resources, activities,
and partnerships that would be required to naturalize millions of eligible immigrants. This report summarizes their findings
Adult Literacy Education in Immigrant Communities: Identifying
Policy and Program Priorities for Helping Newcomers Learn English, Asian American Justice Center, 2007, 38pp.
With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, AAJC convened a panel of
stakeholders and experts in immigrant adult education to examine the state of the field and to put forth recommendations for
future action. Among the 10 principal recommendations are the need for "contextualized ESOL programs that motivate adult
English learners" and the need for increased state and local support of ESOL programs, but with attention to documenting
program effectiveness and sharing innovative practices.
Lost in Translation,
Center for an Urban Future, November, 2006, 14 pp.
This report discusses the problem of inadequate
resources for adult English-language instruction in New YorkState.
The ESL Logjam: Waiting Times for Adult ESL Classes
and the Impact on English Learners,
NALEO Education Fund, October, 2006, 58 pp.
Based on a survey of 184 ESL providers in 16 states, this report argues
that adult ESL instruction in the United States is in a state of crisis, with long waiting lists in many sites, overcrowded
classes, and insufficient options for instructions beyond basic level.
The Integration of Immigrants in the Workplace,
Institute for Work and the Economy, July, 2006, 60 pp.
This report summarizes the findings of a two-year
project funded by The Joyce Foundation to identify effective ways to integrate immigrants into the workforce. Input was received
from a national Advisory Committee of 41 individuals, and participants in 7 community forums. The report is organized according
to the 7 major lessons learned by the project, one of which is that "strategies directed explicitly at immigrants must
be components of a broader range of initiatives that support the entire workforce." The report is noteworthy for
its attention to the diverse backgrounds and needs of immigrants, including both lower skilled immigrants and foreign-trained
English Language Acquisition: Opportunities for Foundations to Strengthen the Social and Economic Well-being of Immigrant
Briefing Paper from the Annie
E. Casey Foundation and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, 2005, 44 pp.
This paper explores
how philanthropy can strengthen immigrant families through strategic investments in language acquisition programs. It discusses
successful strategies and offers examples of promising programs that have helped immigrants-regardless of their educational
background-to increase their employment prospects and economic stability through improved English and other vocational skills.
The report also highlights some of the best practices from literacy programs designed for immigrant families, where both adults
and pre-school children can develop English and literacy skills. The report concludes with a set of recommendations on how
foundations can effectively support English language acquisition in these areas, including gaps in programming and research
where strategic philanthropic investment can make a critical difference.