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Loretta Costin, Chancellor Division of Career and Adult Education Florida Department of Education. Learning Today, Earning Tomorrow. Florida’s Vision For Incorporating Career Pathways Into Adult Education Programs. November 2010.

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Loretta Costin, ChancellorDivision of Career and Adult EducationFlorida Department of Education

Learning Today, Earning Tomorrow

Florida’s Vision For Incorporating Career Pathways Into Adult Education Programs

November 2010

why career pathways are important to adult education students in florida
Why Career Pathways Are Important to Adult Education Students in Florida

The Growing Need for Postsecondary Credentials

Meeting the labor market’s need for workers who are more highly skilled and better trained requires upgrading the skills of the adults currently in the workforce.

Nearly half of all net jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require some postsecondary credential (Lacey & Wright 2009).

Yet as of 2006, over 40 percent of adults in the United States had only a high school diploma or less; another 20 percent had earned some college credit but no credential (Jenkins 2006).

Far too many Americans – as many as 93 million – score at the lower levels of national assessments of functional literacy skills.

These adults have limited opportunities to find sustaining-wage work.

Wages have remained stagnant or declined compared to those of higher-educated adults (Jenkins 2006).

They have also been hit much harder by the recent recession; the national unemployment rates for those without a high school diploma are three times the rate of those with a postsecondary degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009)

the lack of a coherent system
The Lack of a Coherent System

In most communities, there is currently no ‘system’ designed around the career advancement needs of low-skilled adults; instead there is a collection of disjointed programs, each with different governance, funding streams, rules and cultures.

Historically, adult education programs have focused on helping adults complete secondary school education.

But most programs are not designed to adequately prepare students for the postsecondary education and training needed in today’s economy.

low transition rates to postsecondary education
Low Transition Rates to Postsecondary Education

Number of low-skilled adults who progress from remediation to credit-level coursework is low

Current approach is not moving low-skilled adults from adult education into degree and certificate programs that are increasingly essential for family-supporting careers

Many see career pathway models, which integrate remedial education into CTE training programs, accelerate and contextualized learning and provide extensive supportive services, as a promising approach to helping low-skilled adults complete programs and earn income-enhancing credentials

the challenges to creating effective pathways
The Challenges to Creating Effective Pathways

Rationale is clear: low-skilled adults need postsecondary education to get good jobs, and Florida needs to improve our educational systems to ensure that more adults can progress from remedial education to credentialing programs and from noncredit to credit programs

Early indications suggest that this approach can propel more low-skilled adults into and through postsecondary education and training programs

States face a number of common challenges, centered primarily around two key issues:

The difficulty of creating coordinated and coherent systemic change

The challenge of meeting the needs of the hardest-to-serve populations.


Challenge 1: Defining a New System

  • Few are engaged in the breadth of institutional and system-wide change needed to significantly increase the number of low-skilled adults who make their way quickly and efficiently to meaningful credentials and family-sustaining employment

Challenge 2: Identifying Leadership and Defining Roles

  • Requires strong leadership at every level
  • Requires a designated governing structure that has an ongoing responsibility

Challenge 3: Getting More and Better Data

  • If states and colleges are to be accountable for the outcomes (e.g., higher rates of transition, persistence, completion, and employment), there must be ways to measure those outcomes

Challenge 4: Providing Adequate and Aligned Funding

meeting the needs of low skilled and working adults
Meeting the Needs of Low-skilled and Working Adults

Challenge 5: Design programs that prepare low-skilled adults for postsecondary education

  • Students are often working adults who need to upgrade their basic skills quickly and be trained in a career field while juggling work and family responsibilities
  • Programs need to be flexible in terms of hours and locations.
  • Instruction needs to be contextualized to the students’ education and training goals
  • Students need to clearly understand what the next step is after adult education
meeting the needs of low skilled and working adults1
Meeting the Needs of Low-skilled and Working Adults

Challenge 6: Reduce the Time Investment Needed to Achieve a Meaningful Credential

  • “Stackable” credentials - ensure credentials will be recognized by postsecondary institutions, valued by employers, and prepare workers for further education and training and high demand jobs

Challenge 7: Limited Capacity to Provide Student Supports

  • Low skilled and low-income adult learners face numerous barriers to persistence
promising strategies for meeting the needs of low skilled and working adults
Promising Strategies for Meeting the Needs of Low-skilled and Working Adults
  • Define Pathways Clearly
  • Accelerate Instruction
  • Create “Bridges” and “On Ramps”
  • Create Programs Based on the Labor Market
  • “Chunk” or Modularize Programs and Credentials
  • Provide Ongoing, Intensive Supports, Including Career Guidance
    • Case management approach
    • Low-skilled adult students need guidance in choosing career paths
    • In a career pathways program, career guidance should be provided early in the process with counseling throughout the program, especially at points of transition
achieving systemic change
Achieving Systemic Change
  • Change is achievable with a well-defined vision and a clearly articulated plan of action.
example of a adult education career pathway
Example of aAdult Education Career Pathway


Postsecondary Degree


CTE Certification)





Earn RNP

Earn RNP



Earn RN

Earn RN



Earn LPN

Earn LPN



Earn GED Diploma

Earn Standard High School Diploma

Earn CNA


Earn CNA Certificate



Enroll in CTE program CNA

Enroll in GED

Prep course

Enroll in an Adult Secondary High School

Enroll in CTE program CNA

Applied Academics


Applied Academics



6.0 – 8.9


(Student Career Plan)

next steps
Next Steps

What: Gap Analysis – Where we are?/ Where do we need to go?

  • Develop a 5-year strategic plan – state and local
  • Establish goals/measure results
  • Leverage resources to meet goals of the strategic plan
  • Develop capacity of instructors/administrators
next steps1
Next Steps


  • Implement State and Local Strategic/Implementation Plans
  • Utilize current leadership structure
    • Adult Education Cabinet
    • Standing Committees
    • Department of Education/Division of Career and Adult Education staff
    • Local Leadership Structure
  • Utilize existing professional development system
    • Regional Training Centers
    • Professional Development Institute
    • TechNet
    • ACE of Florida
    • Florida Literacy Coalition
  • Distribute approximately 6 million dollars to LEA’s in 2010-2011 to develop capacity/infrastructure
Loretta Costin, Chancellor

Division of Career and Adult Education

(850) 245-9463