The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 helped reopen the door to opportunity in postsecondary education by changing the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), to partially restore what is known as the “ability to benefit (ATB) alternatives”. The new law went into effect on Dec. 16, 2014, and changed the HEA to allow a student who did not receive a high school diploma (or its recognized equivalent), or who did not complete a secondary school education in a home-school setting, to be eligible for Title IV financial aid. This can now be done through a combination of ATB alternatives and enrollment in an eligible career pathway program (as determined by the Title IV eligible institutions’ staff).
As winter break unwinds and college students are at home for the holidays, many homeless and foster care students find themselves scrambling for somewhere to live until classes resume in January. College campuses traditionally close down for winter break. For these vulnerable students their college campus is their home, their community and a primary source of security. While their peers are headed home to see family and catch up with old friends, many of these young people are faced with bleak prospects for the holiday season.
These vulnerable youth face the same struggles as other young people trying to maintain good grades, navigating social peer groups, and planning their futures, but they face the additional burdens associated with little to no adult guidance or support. Fortunately, higher education professionals across our nation have begun to tackle the unique issues faced by homeless and foster care students. They are developing comprehensive strategies to address the most persistent barriers these students face; not just during the holiday season, but all year long.
“Higher education can be the silver bullet to achieving long-term health, housing, and economic security. And for young people who have already overcome so much adversity just to earn a seat in a college classroom, they should have every opportunity—inside and outside of the classroom—to succeed” says Jasmine Hayes, Policy Director for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Ensuring these youth have a safe, stable place to call home in-between semesters is critical. Keeping student housing open and available for youth experiencing homelessness during semester breaks is an effective approach.”
Programs in states like Colorado and North Carolina have implemented Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) in their postsecondary institutions which provide these students access to designated college administrators who are committed to helping them to successfully navigate the college-going process. States and higher education institutions across the country are also working to address the issues these students face, including
- access to higher education opportunities and financial support;
- navigation of the college-going process, including financial aid and service referral processes; and
- basic needs like employment, housing and food.
These efforts are ensuring these most vulnerable students reach their highest potential.
Colleges can play a pivotal role in supporting the academic success of these students. Just ask for foster youth, Alain Datcher. “Entering college as a first time student was a daunting experience. It was a mixture of culture shock, academic rigor and rapid growth. I don’t believe I would have succeeded without the support network I had in one woman – Tamara Malone. She was a mentor, academic advisor, dean and more in one caring, compassionate woman.” When asked how he thought his experience could translate for other students who are homeless or in foster care he replied, “Proximity will define opportunity for these young people. Having a close, approachable, and tangible support network will make the difference. It did in my college education at Biola University. I’ll be earning a Master’s of Public Policy degree in April. Having one caring, single point of contact in Tamra is a big reason why I will.”
When educators act, they change lives. If you know of a foster youth student in your institution, be proactive and reach out. It can make all the difference. Find out more at http://findyouthinfo.gov/.
Guest bloggers: Annie Blackledge, Casey Family Programs Senior Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education, and Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for OCTAE.
The Wisconsin Advanced Manufacturing Pathway Educational Network, or WAMPEN, is hosting a series of three free webinars to help educators and administrators better understand the ten components of the Program of Study framework. Staff from the WAMPEN project will share their experiences implementing the framework to better serve students and manufacturers in Wisconsin.
The first webinar, scheduled for September 25, from 2:00pm to 3:00pm Central Time, will provide an overview of the WAMPEN project and the ten components of the Program of Study Framework.
Upcoming webinars topics include integrating literacy in manufacturing curriculum on October 30, and integrating math instruction in manufacturing curriculum on December 4, 2014.
There is no need to register or RSVP and you can connect to the webinar at http://breeze.fvtc.edu/wampen and also use the link to test your connection in advance.
WAMPEN is one of six projects funded under OCTAE’s Promoting Rigorous Programs of Study(RPOS) discretionary grant program in 2010. You can find more information about the WAMPEN project on their website and download a flyer with the dates and times of all three webinars.
On August 12, leaders from across the higher education, philanthropic and non-profit communities gathered to discuss the research, evidence, and challenges associated with reinventing developmental education. Secretary Duncan framed the developmental education challenge as both a completion and equity issue, saying, “As you know, we can no longer use the traditional approach to developmental education, which has been a long sequence of remedial classes that do not count toward a degree and few students are able to complete.”
Read ED’s Homeroom Blog. where Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Mitsui recaps the meeting and highlights how the White House is building momentum around addressing developmental education challenges.
UPDATE September 22, 2014: In recognition of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, September 22-28, 2014, we revisit this blog post recognizing the role of adult education in the economic and social health of our nation. This week allows us to spotlight the many practitioners and volunteers who improve their communities through education and applaud the commitment of learners to improve themselves, their families and their communities through increased education, English proficiency, and workforce preparation. Get involved and recognize Adult Education and Family Literacy Week in your community. Join the online celebration by including the #AEFLWeek and #AESuccess hashtags in your daily Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts.
“For the one million young men and women who are out of school and who are out of work, this program will permit us to take them off the streets, put them into work training programs, to prepare them for productive lives, not wasted lives […] It will help those small businessmen who live on the borderline of poverty. It will help the unemployed heads of families maintain their skills and learn new skills. ”
These words were spoken by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 20, 1964 as he signed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA), a keystone of the “War on Poverty.” The EOA created several programs across a number of federal agencies that aimed to “eliminate the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty in this Nation by opening to everyone the opportunity for education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity.” EOA was a legislative milestone that highlighted the need for investments in high quality education for youth as well as adults. In addition to programs like Head Start, Job Corps, and VISTA, EOA authorized federal grants for adult basic education, which marked the beginning of federal statutory involvement in adult literacy. This Law set the stage for other crucial adult education legislation to address the issue of illiteracy such as the Adult Education Act of 1966 and the National Literacy Act of 1991.
The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposes two priorities under the Capacity Building Program for Traditionally Underserved Populations. These priorities would:
- Establish a new vocational rehabilitation (VR) training institute for the preparation of personnel in the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) program.
- Encourage applications submitted through a collaborative arrangement between a four-year institution of higher education (IHE) and a two-year community college or tribal college.
The Assistant Secretary may use these priorities for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and later years. The Department invites comments regarding these proposed priorities. The purpose of this action is to improve the provision of VR services to, and the employment outcomes of, American Indians with disabilities. Community colleges are especially encouraged to comment on these priorities.
A Notice of Proposed Priority (NPP) was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 and is listed as: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [Docket ID ED-2014-OSERS-0024; CFDA Number: 84.315C.] Capacity Building Program for Traditionally Underserved Populations–Vocational Rehabilitation Training Institute for the Preparation of Personnel in American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects.
Comments must be received on or before Friday, July 11, 2014.
For more information please contact: Kristen Rhinehart. Telephone: (202) 245-6103 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
Tuba City High School awarded students in their Early Childhood Education (ECE) career and technical education program Child Development Associates (CDA) degrees. Tuba City is the third school in the nation to award CDA National Credentials to high school students. The program was developed in partnership with Coconino Community College and funded as part of a discretionary grant that was awarded to the State of Arizona by OCTAE.
What financial aid is available to adult education students transitioning to college and training? Several recent Ed.gov blogs on student loans and federal initiatives, including OVAE’s Adult College Completion Toolkit, are providing guidance.
This was also the question posed to a panel at the recent National College Transition Network conference in Providence, RI.
Adult education students often face steep challenges when transitioning to college: cost of tuition, books, and materials; child care and transportation; loss of income; lack of “college knowledge” of the system and expectations; and weak skills that require developmental education courses. The panelists discussed innovative ideas advocacy groups and adult education programs can do to prepare and support their students’ success in the postsecondary setting.
Mina Reddy, of the Cambridge Community Learning Center, spoke first. Reddy shared how and why her program had established a local scholarship fund to support transitioning students. Last year, they had 15 $1,000 scholarships to award. Reddy spoke of the power of even small scholarships to “validate” students’ efforts and achievements.
Vania Estanek is a graduate of the Cambridge program’s ESOL courses, and a scholarship recipient, and now a postsecondary student in a biotech certificate program. She participated in the panel to share her perspective of the value of the scholarship to propel her to higher levels of achievement and provide flexible funds in advance of any school-based aid.
Loh-Sze Leung, of SkillWorks, spoke of the public-private advocacy ventures she has been engaged with in Massachusetts to address adult education and skill development issues, with some legislative successes that funded aid and projects. Some of her tips from advocacy work were to “mobilize students to tell their own stories to legislators”, and “to track success and use data”, preferably local data.
Nate Anderson, of Jobs for the Future, spoke about Accelerating Opportunities, an effort that is underway in seven states to accelerate students without a high school credential through to post-secondary success. He highlighted several creative solutions states were employing to fill the gap between adult education and credit bearing college courses, such as “braiding” federal funding streams to support the program, waiving tuition for the first semester of college for adult education students, or working strategically with untraditional partners such as the foster care fund. These ideas and others are in JFF’s Innovative Ideas Database, part of their Braided Funding Toolkit.
Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary of OVAE, was a respondent to the panel. She acknowledged the challenges faced by students, programs, and advocacy groups and celebrated the creative and innovative ideas the panelists had outlined. She shared several Administration initiatives that are underway to address some of specific challenges including the proposed College Rating System to make college costs more transparent, proposed loan defaults initiative, and proposed experimental sites for financial aid flexibility.
Watch the Ed.gov blog to stay up to date on these initiatives.
Thursday evening – Local Phoenix Time –
It’s a wrap!
After 10 events in four cities over three days, we have successfully completed our leg of the Secretary’s Back-to-School Bus Tour! We saw many extraordinary CTE, adult education, and postsecondary programs; met hundreds of dedicated administrators, teachers, faculty and business and industry partners; and, most importantly, met the most incredible students! From aspiring high school students to adults seeking a better life for them and their families, our leg of the tour showed us how programs in the Southwest are truly preparing students for a “Strong Start, Bright Future!”
6:22PM Thursday Local Phoenix, AZ Time –
We arrived at the last stop on our leg of the Secretary’s Back-to-School Bus Tour at the Rio Salado College, in Phoenix. Rio Salado is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa Community College System. While Rio Salado began predominately as an online community college, it began a “brick and mortar” adult education program. Among the offerings at Rio Salado is the nationally-recognized I-BEST program. Several I-BEST graduates are taking part in the roundtable and sharing their personal stories in gaining their GED, transitioning to college, earning industry-recognized credentials and degrees, and obtain employment.
2:36PM Thursday Local Glendale, AZ Time –We just began our series of roundtables on college affordability and accessibility with educators and community stakeholders in Glendale, Arizona, hosted jointly by Glendale Community College (GCC) and Northern Arizona University (NAU). GCC has partnered with NAU, which has created an innovative transfer program called 2NAU that works with community colleges like GCC to help students make a seamless transition to a four-year institution and thus dramatically lowering the overall cost of a bachelor’s degree. Among the federal grants administered by NAU is the GEAR UP program, which is funded under the Higher Education Act (HEA). As a college readiness program, GEAR UP works with low-income, first-generation high school students to help prepare them for college. One of the issues being raised at the roundtable is faculty shortages, especially in the health professions, where individuals can earn significantly more in the field than they can in teaching at the college or university. This issue becomes more pressing as the country raises its expectations for college-going by all students.
2:10PM Thursday Local Paradise Valley, AZ Time –
We just completed a fabulous visit to Paradise Valley High School’s Center for Research in Engineering, Science, and Technology (CREST) program. We began with a tour by an amazing group of students to CREST’s three program strands: biotechnology, sustainability, and engineering. Each of these programs exemplify the Department of Education’s vision for high-quality career and technical education (CTE) as provided in the Department’s blueprint for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, which is a major source of funding for CTE across the nation. Among the key features of CREST’s programs are integration of academic and technical education; collaboration among secondary, postsecondary, and business/industry; and work-based learning. During the visit, we had the honor of meeting Arizona’s teacher of the year—a biotechnology (CTE) teacher, Marni Landry
From Wednesday –
Lee Lambert, Chancellor of Pima Community College, reflected on Wednesday’s visit by Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier to Tucson, AZ. Dann-Messier visited students at a family literacy and an adult education program.
“When all the gears are meshing, we are capable of great things….it is crucial that all the gears do in fact synchronize. The need for seamlessness between K-12, community colleges and four-year institutions is critical. Students must be able to map out clear roads leading to whatever their education goal might be. That point was emphasized by Dr. Dann-Messier, who recognizes as I do that it is essential for Adult Education and community colleges to partner to provide clear articulation paths, and for Adult Education courses to prepare students for college or careers without the need for remediation.”
Read his entire post “Opening Doors.”
This is the third in a series of daily updates from Dr. Sharon Lee Miller who is on the Back-to-School Bus Tour currently in progress in the Southwest U.S.
Our day began with a roundtable on the Tucson campus of the University of Arizona with key staff and graduate students of the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL – pronounced “circle”). Partially funded through the National Resource Center grant program, a federal grant offered through ED’s Office of International and Foreign Language Education, this center is one of 15 across the U.S. that is dedicated to developing resources and providing professional development for K-8 foreign language instruction. Roundtable participants are now sharing information about their “Worlds of Words” language and culture book kits that encourage the development of intercultural understandings for K-8 teachers and children. The kits are available at www.wowlit.org! To learn more about the National Resource Center grant program and other federally funded programs, which focus on language learning please visit ED’s website here.
10:50AM Local Tucson Time –
We just arrived at a family literacy program at the Ocotillo Early Learning Center in Tuscon, AZ. The adult students are introducing themselves to Brenda and sharing the reasons why they have enrolled in the program. Their reasons range from being better parents to helping their children read to getting a job and providing for their families.
12:00PM Local Tucson Time –
We just bade farewell to a wonderful group of students, teachers, and administrators at the Ocotillo Early Family Literacy Center! We have just headed over to El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center, which is housed within Pima Community College, and have begun a roundtable discussion with students and staff. The students–who are all parents–are sharing their stories about why they enrolled in the program and their expectations for the future. One student just described her feelings of isolation and despair as a mother who was unable to speak English and fulfill her responsibilities as a parent and community member. Another student just recounted how she enrolled in the GED program when her son dropped out of high school and indicated that he would go back and finish when she did. Both students have indicated that they are well on their way toward achieving their educational goals and are enrolled in Pima Community College!
Wednesday Evening Tempe, AZ –
We wrapped up our activities for Wednesday at Secretary Duncan’s Town Hall Meeting on Higher Education. Flanked by the presidents of Arizona State University and the University of Maryland, the Secretary focused on college affordability, particularly for Hispanic students who are among the youngest and fastest growing segments of the population. In his remarks, Secretary Duncan reiterated his concerns about the growing costs of college and the debt that many students carry once they graduate, and shared the President’s proposals to address these issues.