State Leadership Funds (Adult education and family literacy act Section 223 (AEFLA))
AEFLA Section 223(1)(a)
During FY 2021-2022, WRU supported innovative services based on the needs of the provider network. Leadership funds were used to support high-quality services to students, professional development for staff, support for programs, and collaboration with partners. This included continued support both statewide and locally of partnerships with workforce entities through our existing local infrastructure agreements with technology solutions, co-location models, and career pathway support. While working with post-secondary partners is essential within an Integrated Education and Training (IET) program, so too is the continued support from workforce partners. Support took on many forms including financing of materials and supplies for students to successfully complete their education and training.
Though challenging at times due to staff turnover, understanding of each other’s missions, and communication issues, collaboration between WRU providers and core partners like the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) helps to ensure that learners are afforded the opportunity to enter the workforce. LWC provides services such as on-site counseling for eligible students. WRU representatives sit on all 15 local Workforce Development Boards. Additionally, one WRU provider, the Department of Public Safety & Corrections, holds seats on the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council and the LWC Industry-Based Certification Committee.
AEFLA Section 223(1)(b)
By continuing to provide online design and instruction training to faculty and staff, we are better positioned to facilitate teaching in a digitally inclusive environment. Other necessary training included both in-person and virtual options.
During FY 2021-2022, WRU demonstrated its commitment to high-quality professional development activities that included but were not limited to:
Louisiana had 56 local administrators/support staff, 274 adult education instructors, 41 instructional assistants, and 18 counselors in FY 2021-22 (NRS Table 7).
All new WRU employees participate in a self-paced onboarding course. The course, WorkReady U and You, provides an introduction to the field of adult education with a specific focus on Louisiana’s WRU program. The course is housed in Google Classroom which links to our database. This allows new faculty to become familiar with the platform so that they can eventually create their own courses for students.
AEFLA Section 223(1)(c)
State Leadership funds were utilized to promote assessment policy awareness, professional development for data quality, policy, and compliance monitoring, in addition to an added focus on using data for decisions, retention techniques, and overall best practices for instructional delivery.
Accountability in adult education in Louisiana is framed by WIOA and the National Reporting System (NRS). State Leadership funds are used to enhance the web-based data collection/management system that is used by all federally funded adult education programs.
The following are activities and initiatives used to connect assessment and accountability in Louisiana as referenced in the State Plan for Title II of WIOA.
- The LCTCS continued to use and refine a performance-based funding formula for adult education that is aligned to performance indicators with NRS and WRU-prioritized outcomes.
- Louisiana is committed to reaching individuals who are basic skills deficient by targeting federal funds to students working below an 8.9 grade level equivalent. During the fiscal year, just under 99% of the total students served were adults with low literacy levels and/or in need of English Language Acquisition. (NRS Tables 3).
- Technical assistance was ongoing to all projects, with a focus on and follow-up given to sites with indicated findings and low-performance outcomes. Future funding may be impacted for sub-grantees who fail to meet corrective compliance measures or continue to perform poorly.
WRU continued to utilize established techniques for providing technical assistance to programs. The procedures included: performance target requirements; continued use of a risk assessment model; and continued data review. Program performance negotiations jointly analyzed individual program data and established baseline performance goals for the fiscal year. The risk assessment model was used to identify programs with low-performance data and guided the State in providing targeted technical assistance. Enhanced database dashboards were added to assist programs in tracking their progress in meeting the benchmarks and standards, including a model for a new WRU Report Card that has been incorporated into technical assistance. Providers continued to be ranked in the state by benchmarks, pre-post testing, and recruiting. This system was implemented to help WRU and program staff identify program strengths, areas for improvement, technical assistance, and professional development needs. Monthly programmatic and data calls allow staff to gain a clearer picture of the program with frequent check-ins built around themes relevant to the field such as recruitment/retention, partnerships, and the like.
Technical assistance activities included, but were not limited to:
AEFLA Section 223(1)(d)
During 2021-2022, Louisiana’s onsite monitoring instrument used a risk-assessment model that incorporates six vital modules -- data, recruitment/retention, classroom activities, records/reports, partnerships, and finance -- in an effort to model the USDE/OCTAE instrument and place emphasis on what is valued and consistent with the WRU mission. Programs were trained on the monitoring instrument. The monitoring instrument can be used as a training and planning tool for local providers.
Monitoring activities are based on federal requirements and performance measures. These measures are associated with risks that are high, medium, or low. This assessment includes both programmatic and fiscal functions or activities that include:
Fiscal Risk Assessment
- Federal Award Amount
- Single Audit Findings
- Previous Monitoring Findings
- Unresolved Corrective Actions
- Length of Time since the last Comprehensive Fiscal Monitoring
- Timely Submission of Reports
- High Balance Remaining of Expenditures
- Program Performance
- Student Enrollment
- Personnel Turnover
- Participant Progress
WRU continued utilizing an electronic grants management system (eGrants). Recipients entered all budgets, revisions, and reimbursement requests in this system. Providers were trained on the WRU Recipient Grant Management Handbook as well. The purpose of the handbook is to provide recipients with a single point of reference for managing/expending all federal AEFLA funds and to set forth the policies, procedures, and guidelines intended to assist in the proper administration programs at the local level.
The statewide compliance team’s monitoring procedures included data analysis such as program performance and fiscal information. State staff requested local data documentation based on desk reviews conducted according to a risk assessment determination. Five programs were selected for monitoring in FY 21-22. Onsite visits included examining student files, student attendance records, and program data submitted through the statewide data management system. Monitoring reports were prepared after each onsite monitoring visit. Sites that were non-compliant/had findings received recommendations for program improvements. Programs were given 30 days to prepare and submit a written action plan describing a resolution plan. State staff members were assigned to ensure all plans were adhered to and non-compliance was addressed in a detailed follow-up process.
AEFLA Section 223(a)(2)
Leadership funds were used to support grants to local programs to scale innovative practices in distance learning and Integrated Education & Training (IET) programming and curriculum development. All materials developed are required to be shareable and replicable in other parts of the state in an effort to leverage the collective creativity and expertise of our instructional network. WRU will continue this model in the future as a means of promoting local program implementation of effective strategies, continuous improvement, integration, alignment, and capacity-building activities within our network and the larger workforce system.
Performance Data Analysis
In terms of the overall assessment of core programs based on the core indicators of performance, WorkReady U served 20,763 (Table 2A + Table 4) undereducated and underemployed citizens in FY 2021-22 with 8,975 students participating in basic skill instruction (NRS Tables 4). Data reveals that 43% of those who participated in academic services during the FY 2021-2022 program year made a measurable skill gain (MSG) (NRS Table 4). While we continued to show reduced enrollment compared to pre-pandemic levels, we are pleased to know that enrollment ticked up in FY 21-22 and the percentage of students making a measured skill gain increased by nearly 3%. Effective instruction at the local level is evident by the fact that 60% of students post-tested (NRS Table 4B) demonstrated an EFL gain.
Despite the incredible challenges to intake, assessment, and instruction posed by natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, a review of the 2020-2021 adult education performance data indicates some growth areas. The percentage of students with a measurable skill gain (MSG) increased by 3% and the number of students post-tested increased by 17%. Additionally, the number of adult learners who earned an industry-based credential increased by 12% over the previous fiscal year. This shows that our providers, while significantly challenged by the obstacles of the pandemic and natural disasters, have remained committed to innovating and building educational opportunities for Louisiana’s adult learners.
Louisiana was also committed to ensuring that all individuals who were undereducated and underemployed had an opportunity to receive basic skill remediation and an opportunity toward self-sufficiency as evidenced by Table 3 which shows that approximately 99% of the students served were Adult Basic Education or English Language learners. This long-term commitment to Louisiana’s most at-risk citizens is evidence that WRU is dedicated to building a stronger Louisiana by providing comprehensive adult educational services.
To improve program quality and effectiveness, WRU encouraged data sharing and discussion with faculty and staff. When daily, weekly, and monthly data reports are analyzed, specific targets and goals for improvement are uncovered. Data is used to determine necessary instructional shifts as well. These data-driven shifts enable teachers to better prepare their students. Utilizing data from the Student Information System (SIS), it is our goal to see areas where we need improvement and those in which we excel.
Plans to further increase performance revolve around a set of quality indicators developed jointly with providers, state staff, and stakeholders. The indicators are aligned with federal and state considerations for funding programs, and performance on the indicators will eventually become part of the funding formula. Elements of the quality indicators framework include the proportion of low-skilled students served, the number of older adult students served, implementation of digital literacy instruction and assessment in programming, demonstration of workforce preparation and occupational skills training for learners, and an analysis of program effectiveness and efficiency in the use of funds.
Integration with One-stop Partners
The LCTCS supported the integration of activities sponsored under the AEFLA in multiple areas relative to adult education, career development, and employment and training activities. Beginning with the 2017 competitive RFP and subsequent continuation applications, applicants were asked to describe the program’s service alignment with the local workforce plan and coordination of efforts between the core and non-core partners.
WRU and One-Stop centers coordinated partnerships to provide shared unduplicated services. WRU partnered with each of the 15 Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) to have adult education supervisors serve as representatives on each board. This coordination and communication provided opportunities for Title II representatives to serve on the local workforce development boards and act as a conduit for the exchange of information. LCTCS leadership participated in all appropriate committee and board activities of the State agencies responsible for Workforce, Corrections, Higher Education, and Economic Development.
In some local partnerships, adult education programs provide all assessment services, while others offer workforce preparation, digital literacy, and basic skills classes. All of our adult education programs use a statewide Unite Us platform for referrals and follow-up with WIOA services in our local one-stops.
One program detailed the struggles faced during the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which created multiple barriers to participation in existing partnerships and a temporary hiatus for expanding collaborative efforts. Specifically, a local One-Stop Center building remained unusable due to damage, and staff members were spread throughout a variety of other local agency facilities. They continued operations as best they could, but there was no centralized site for their activities. Partners’ meetings and WDB regional meetings did resume after January 2022, but limitations in client services remained throughout the rest of the fiscal year. As a core partner of the local Workforce Development System for the region, this program actively participated in this network. When operating in a “normal” situation, they cross-referred clients between the Business and Career Solutions Center and Louisiana Vocational Rehabilitation (LVR) services. An adult education staff member spent one morning per week at the One-Stop Center to help process our students and discuss possibilities for their clients. They also provided testing for their clients when needed. Several adult education students were also clients of LVR, and staff members were in contact with their representatives to cross-refer. The Business and Career Center funded adult education youth services and the Youth Work Experience program. This particular adult education program utilized the funding resources for students who were enrolled in the local college’s credit and non-credit activities and recruited for their youth work experience program.
In accordance with WIOA regulations, shared infrastructure costs of the One-Stop Delivery System were accomplished through negotiation at the local level. The WorkReady U Adult Education comprehensive literacy center in each region collaborated with each LWDB comprehensive center to determine shared costs and MOUs.
Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education
IELCE Funds and grants
The competitive RFP was conducted in the spring of 2021. Seven programs were awarded IELCE funding. The seven funded programs ensured that adult English language learners, including professionals with degrees and credentials in their native countries, are provided instruction in literacy and English language acquisition, math, and instruction on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and civic participation with the opportunity to access workforce training/preparation activities.
English Language Learners (ELLs) had the opportunity to participate in Louisiana Career Pathways and workforce preparation activities during the fiscal year. IET programs include but are not limited to: allied health (Nursing Assistant, Emergency First Responder, and Basic Life Support for Healthcare Professionals), skilled crafts (NCCER Core, Welding, OSHA 10, Carpentry, Forklift Operations, Advanced Rigging, Machining, and Automotive), hospitality (ServSafe Manager Level Food Safety), business and information technology (National Retail Foundation Customer Service & Sales certification, Microsoft Word Specialist, Networking, IC3). WRU workforce preparation activities stress the importance of career exploration, workforce navigation, and transitional support utilizing all core partner services.
IELCE Section 243(c)(1)
WRU providers offer exposure to employment opportunities for all students, including IELCE students through career fairs, partnering with state and local workforce development boards, career counseling, and college job placement centers. Many of our IELCE programs co-enroll students in a combination of college & career readiness courses, ELL courses, and transition courses along with enrollment in non-credit and credit programming in specific industry clusters. All curricula are designed to be integrated with the basic skills remediation necessary to ensure students build foundational academic skills while advancing in degree programs. Furthermore, each class is taught by a content expert and adult education instructor, ensuring that the curriculum is designed to meet the educational and career-related needs of each student. This allows student learning to accelerate in a college and career readiness-focused curriculum, within a program that nurtures a powerful learning culture as students take the first steps towards postsecondary and career success. Transition programming within IETs consists of workforce and postsecondary preparation to help students work through obstacles in finding family-sustaining employment and enrolling in quality post-secondary programs of study.
Our programs will continue to offer contextualized instructional services in American culture, language, government, and civics to English language students. In addition, these students will have multiple opportunities to participate in regionally in-demand career pathways courses. There are many lessons to be learned from our IELCE programs. First, many of the students come to school because there is a sense of community, and they are seeking a welcoming place. As a result, one program’s teachers place a great deal of importance on the cultural aspects of living in America, and they try to incorporate food, music, and holidays into instruction. They invite students to share their own cultural backgrounds in an effort to make an inclusive learning environment.
IELCE Section 243(c)(2)
In 2021-2022 WRU served 1629 English Language Learners (NRS Table 3). This continues to be a significant drop in ELL enrollment compared to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, 79% of Louisiana’s English Language Learners enter our programs at basic levels – ESL 1 through 4 – according to Table 4. This is challenging when designing stackable career pathways programming as the vast majority of students need significant basic skills remediation. Nevertheless, local programs continue to connect all learners to IETs in Workforce Development Board-targeted industries and build out contextualized instruction for learners at all levels.
Adult Education Standards
Louisiana adopted the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) to align with K12 standards. All standards are listed in policy, and all adult education programs are required to use the CCRS, English Language Proficiency Standards (ELP), the OCTAE Employability Framework, and the Northstar Digital Literacy Standards. New instructors are trained on how to use the WRU Lesson Plan Vault in the WRU Onboarding Course. The vault is a homegrown database that is searchable by keyword, subject, lesson level, and standard. The vault allows instructors to access readily available CCRS-aligned, contextualized lessons that incorporate the OCTAE Employability Framework. Aside from providing quality free and no-cost online resources, we utilize an online community, Basecamp, for sharing best practices in topic areas such as standards-based instruction, asking questions of colleagues and state staff, and building community.
As always, a focus for our instructional programs was to continue to incorporate standards by aligning these with classroom instructional activities. When COVID-19 and the hurricanes hit, student work prescriptions were updated to allow students more choices in terms of educational activities in both print and online formats. Some programs adopted Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to analyze student results, make plans for upcoming learning sessions, and share this information. The obvious challenge was how to incorporate virtual components that mirror the classroom standards and activities. Plans included utilizing Google Classroom as the basic platform for assignments and teacher-directed activities. For those students who lacked devices or areas with a lack in technology infrastructure, student packets that aligned to the standards were created for students to pick up from various locations. In other areas, cell phone activities were incorporated to meet student learning needs.
Our programs’ lessons are planned around the standards and incorporate study skills, research techniques, written and oral communication skills, "soft" skills like critical thinking and collaboration, time management, organization skills, and digital skills. Standards-based instruction efficiently prepares our students to pass the high school equivalency exam, as well as to prepare them for actual college and career-readiness. The goal is to ensure that lessons accurately reflect the needs of the students in terms of their academic skills gaps while incorporating workplace readiness standards. Northstar Digital Literacy Standards are incorporated into instructional planning beginning at the intake and inquiry stage to ensure student success in and out of the classroom.
WRU will continue to explore high quality instructional materials and methods, including integrated workplace skills on the topic of economic empowerment and digital literacy. It is a statewide goal to ensure that learning facilitators have a clear understanding of what standards are, how to interpret them, and how to carry out true, differentiated standards-based instruction that meets the needs of individual students.
Programs for Corrections Education (AEFLA Section 225)
The WRU mission of providing quality educational programs that help incarcerated adults obtain the skills needed to acquire a high school equivalency diploma and transition to postsecondary education or training continued to be an important focus in FY 21-22.
The WRU network funded a total of six (6) Corrections Education and Education of Other Institutionalized Individuals programs providing adult education services in 21-22. Funded entities include the LA Department of Corrections, Community Colleges, and Community-Based Organizations. Services provided include Adult Education and Literacy, English Language Acquisition, Workforce Preparation, Integrated Education and Training, Peer Tutoring, Transition to Re-entry Initiatives and other Post-Release Services, Special Education, and Secondary School Credit Services.
Correctional education is a fundamental component of rehabilitative programming offered in juvenile justice confinement facilities, prisons, jails, and detention centers. Louisiana once again has the nation’s highest incarceration rate after Oklahoma briefly rose to the top in 2018. The state continued focusing on bipartisan criminal justice reform. These reform measures continued to focus on steering people convicted of less serious crimes away from prison, strengthening incarceration alternatives, reducing prison terms for those who can be safely supervised in the community, and removing barriers to re-entry.
The money saved from the criminal justice reforms put in place was reinvested in re-entry initiatives including bolstering education programs within the prison systems throughout the state. Funded providers worked to partner with the various parish prisons to offer educational services to those offenders.
The most current recidivism rate reported by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections is the rate reported for state offenders released from adult institutions, local facilities, and transitional work programs that have completed an education class while incarcerated in a state facility. Recidivism is the return to custody following a conviction for a new felony or technical revocation of supervision after having been released from incarceration through a completed sentence, release on parole, conditional release, or split probation sentence. Offenders released on a detainer, released in error, deceased, or transferred to another jurisdiction are not included. An offender may be released multiple times but only counted once per release year. Offenders are tracked for a period of time from the date of release based on the year of return such as 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, 48 months, and 60 months.
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The LA Department of Corrections (DOC) provides the following: Adult Education (Literacy, Adult Basic Education (ABE), and High School Equivalency Preparation), Post-Secondary Programming (Career and Technical Education (CTE), and College and Degree Programs), Workforce Preparation, Peer Tutoring Services, Re-entry and transitional services, special education services, and other post-release services. The DOC continues to implement programs at the local jail level to ensure that services are offered to all adult learners at each facility in which there is a Certified Education Program. Currently, WIOA Title II Services/Activities are offered at 8 state facilities, 20 local jails, 10 regional reentry centers (RRC), and 10-day reporting centers (DRCs). Many of DOC Certified Education Programs Instructor Aides are funded by Prison Enterprises and Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Because these positions are part-time, inmate tutors are necessary to assist in running these programs. Inmate tutors are selected by certified education staff and then tested, trained, and counseled prior to tutoring. These tutors provide one on one instruction to adult learners. These tutors are trained on how to work with adults and given best practices in terms of peer tutoring.
It is the goal of the DOC to provide adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and training for the purpose of career advancement post-release.The department has also worked hard to gain employers that are willing to hire individuals with felony convictions. DPS&C works with various community partners for employment, transportation, housing, food, etc. DOC also provides numerous post-secondary education and training programs, and offers the HiSET class in 8 state facilities, 30 local jails, 10 Regional Reentry Centers, and 10 Day Reporting Centers.