Re-Visioning Instruction and Support at Community Colleges to Support the Whole Student

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) is committed to supporting community college students and, in turn, strengthening the coordination and alignment between adult education and developmental education programs at community college campuses to better prepare students for the 21st century job market. 

Supporting Student Success: Adult Education and Remedial Education Reform in ​Community Colleges is a two-year technical assistance effort intended to support the Administration’s remediation reform goals and the Department of Education’s Strategic Plan.  Over the past year, the Department, in collaboration with the Manhattan Strategy Group, identified successful programs at four community colleges across the United States, to identify examples of alignment between adult and developmental education.

For this week​-​long discussion, staff from two of the sites, Jordan Herrera, Amarillo College, and Dianne Lee, St. Louis Community College, will facilitate the discussion which will focus on low-skills students at community colleges who need new approaches to instruction in addition to supports to help them to stay in school.  St Louis Community College re-designed their adult learning academy to be highly flexible, using both face-to-face as well as online and media-oriented approaches to instruction.  In addition, the program has rolling admissions, and provides the option for students who need to "stop out" to deal with an issue in their lives to return to the program.  The second program, Amarillo Community College, provides a high touch approach to students that provides support in a wide spectrum of their lives, e.g. social, emotional, and financial, among others, and which models an extensive partnership with local social services and community based organizations.  During the discussion, participants will have an opportunity to pose their own questions, comments, and receive feedback from the facilitators. will share their knowledge and expertise with you.

Kicking off the discussion, we would like to ask you the question: 

​"What has been the most challenging and/or successful in terms of providing intensive skills instruction for ABE and Dev Ed students at your organization?​


Hi, Sara -

Thanks again for sharing these events with the LINCS Community.  I'm wondering if the facilitators for this event will be speaking to their institutions' approach to serving the needs of learners with disabilities, as part of this discussion on the whole student? If so, it would be great to share this event with the Disabilities in Adult Education community.


Mike Cruse

Disabilities in Adult Education Moderator

It is very difficult to identify one aspect of the St. Louis program that was most challenging or most successful but one strategy that immediately comes to mind is contextualization. Developmental education students struggled for years with curricula that did not seem interesting or relevant to their career goals and teachers struggled to keep their students engaged. After faculty contextualized the Adult Learning Academy mathematics and integrated reading/writing curricula the students became more engaged as compared to students in a traditional non-contextualized course. The developmental education faculty took the lead on contextualizing their curriculum, first to healthcare, then transportation, and most recently to STEM occupations in IT, machining, and life sciences. Technical faculty shared resources with the developmental education faculty members and helped them learn how basic skills were integrated into entry level occupations within the different pathways. Employer partners met with the developmental education faculty and a few employers invited the team to observe employees performing the various job roles first hand. Contextualization of curriculum is a strategy that improves retention and success rates and goes a long way toward meeting the relevancy challenge.

Thank you again for participating in this discussion - we will be hosting a webinar next week to discuss Contextualization- check out more information here: 

Thanks in advance for your participation!!!

On April 13, 2017, from 1-2 p.m. (ET), the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Student Success project team will host a webinar titled Supporting Student Success: The Hybrid Approach. The one-hour webinar will feature St. Louis Community College’s Adult Learning Academy (ALA). The ALA is an innovative approach to developmental education which integrates all promising practices identified by the Supporting Student Success project – acceleration, contextualization, and student support.

Registration for this event is required. Join us here:

The Supporting Student Success project disseminates successful strategies in promoting student success in Adult Education and Developmental Education programming. This is the third of four webinars. Each webinar highlights a different promising approach to program design – contextualizationaccelerationstudent support, and a hybrid design model. The webinars feature community colleges implementing these practices, which are aimed at increasing the college transition and completion rates of lower-skilled learners at their institutions.

All webinars will be recorded and available for later viewing in the LINCS Community Postsecondary Completion group.

Future Supporting Student Success webinars will be held on the following dates:

  • Supporting Student Success: Supporting the Whole Student – May 9, 2017, at 2 p.m. (ET)

For more on this project and related topics, check out these earlier discussions/webinars available in the LINCS Community: