Welcome to our two-day discussion of the Career Pathways Programing for Lower-Skilled Adults in High-Need Cities research report
. This report is a comprehensive documentation of a survey of adult education providers, including focus groups, and case studies, across Chicago, Houston, and Miami. The survey was designed to identify the key features of adult career pathways, and the learner outcome measures used across cities, and sites.
We are fortunate to be joined by the two researchers for this project. Dr. Esther Prins and Dr. Carol Clymer. Esther Prins is Professor of Adult Education, Learning and Performance Systems, and co-director of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, and the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy at Penn State University. Dr. Prins was the Primary Investigator for "Career Pathways Programming for Lower-Skilled Adults and Immigrants: A Comparative Analysis of Adult Education Providers in High-Need Cities."
, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science (2015-18). Dr. Carol Clymer is also a Professor of Adult Education, Learning and Performance Systems, and co-director of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, and the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy at Penn State University. Dr. Clymer served as a co-director of the Career Pathways Programing for Lower-Skilled Adults in High-Need Cities research project.
The majority of survey respondents were from Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). We are also joined by two research partners from Chicago, Becky Raymond and Emily Doherty. Becky Raymond, Executive Director at Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition (CCLC) Executive Director at Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. CCLC advocates for and develops strategies for improving adult literacy and basic education systems fostering adult education that transitions learners into the workforce, and post-secondary education. CLCC was the Chicago region partner for the Career Pathways Programing for Lower-Skilled Adults and Immigrants in High-Need Cities research project. Emily Doherty is Senior Director of Programs at Jane Addams Resource Center (JARC). JARC promotes strong communities by helping both job seekers and employers advance in today's rapidly changing economy. JARC is Community-Based Organizations (CBO) providing career pathways to residents of Chicago, and works in partnership with CCLC.
Thank you each for joining us to discuss the highlights of your research, and the implications for serving lower-skilled adults in high-need cities. Your research-practitioner partnership provides a needed example for collaboration to better understand what makes for the most effective career pathways programs. The full report
of your research is a wealth of information that requires unpacking for more practitioners to reflect on their programs, and evidence-based best practices for achieving positive outcomes with learners.
I want to jump into asking Esther and Carol a few questions about the structure of the research. I encourage members to have a look at the full report
, and consider the responses to these first questions. What questions do you have about collaborating in research-practitioner studies? Next, as we dive more deeply into the report, please bring your comments and questions about the case studies, best practices for meeting lower skilled adults' needs, and building robust career pathways.
Let’s get started…
This research is based on a survey of over 100 adult education agencies in three U.S. cities: Miami, Houston, and Chicago, as well as focus groups and case studies of six participating agencies. You note in the final report that 94% of the survey respondents were developing, or already providing, career pathways. However, you underscore the fact that your findings show that the design and implementation of these career pathways varied significantly across programs.
1. Would you share how you selected the 100+ agencies for the survey, and what criteria were used to determine whether these agencies' programs were developing, or providing career pathways?
You point out that the research is limited on pathway's operated by Community-Based Organizations (CBO's), and focused on the needs of learners with less than a high school education. You focused on wrap around support services in your case studies because your findings suggest that these services are a vital part of supporting this demographic of adult learners to access and persist in the completion of pathways programs.
2. Would you tell us how you selected the six agencies for your case studies, and what characteristics they share that model best practices for providing wraparound services in a pathways program?
You use the term 'mental bandwidth' to refer to thinking about how these wraparound supports reduce the cognitive load of learners struggling with poverty. You propose that these supports help to expand their ability to focus on learning.
3. Can you share an anecdotal example from your case studies that highlights how wraparound services helped expand a learner's mental bandwidth? Did you notice any priorities within the types of wraparound services that most significantly reduced the cognitive load on learners, and supported their success within pathways programs?