North Carolina Justice Center on the GED

I’ve been trying to keep a special eye on policy papers outside the adult education world related to the GED revamp, particularly those that come at the issue from a civil rights, social justice, or economic policy point of view. Here’s one from the North Carolina Justice Center that came out back in November that I missed. It’s a good summary of the potential challenges that the new test may pose to low-income adults. It closes with a critical point:

While these challenges are significant, the changes to the GED test also offer an opportunity for states to reflect on ways to better meet the needs of this target population. (my emphasis)

This has been a point that I’ve been stressing (I hope) since the Pearson VUE partnership spurred several states to look for GED alternatives last year. Whatever you think of the GED and its new competitors, the rapid evolution of the HSE testing marketplace does appear to be forcing policymakers and state officials outside of the adult education office to spend some time actually thinking about the needs of this population. Whether this leads to more investment in adult education and/or policies designed to assist more adult learners to succeed is still an open question.

h/t Adrienne Harreveld

Lobbying for Literacy

State Advocacy 2013The National Council of State Directors of Adult Education recently released the results of a survey on the use of paid lobbyists for adult education  at the state level.

Eight states reported using paid lobbyists. In all of those states, lobbyists are funded by the state adult education professional association. In six of those states, they work for those associations directly. In the other two states, the associations pay for lobbying services by contributing to coalitions that were organized to advocate for a broader range of education and human service programs.

I suspect the actual number of broad-based coalitions that at least do some advocacy that’s at least relevant to adult education funding or policy is actually a bit larger—even if they don’t do it directly. This survey was apparently focused on direct lobbying for adult education. But most statewide coalitions that advocate for funding for human services or education probably at least nominally include adult education as one of those services. It may be that those coalitions are not actively engaging policymakers on the issue of adult education, and/or may not really be working with adult education advocates in the state to integrate the need for adult education into their talking points. Raising the profile of adult education within these kinds of broad advocacy coalitions is a subject worthy of further discussion, I think.

Scrambling for Dollars

Somewhat unusual state funding scheme, I think, for adult literacy in New Mexico, assuming this story was reported accurately. I think what is going on here is that the state has decided it wants state adult literacy funds that are not part of their 25%  match under Title II of WIA to be reserved for programs not receiving Title II funding.

It’s very challenging, I think, for coalitions to serve as conduits for state funding and still serve as a broad-based coalition for the field. Even when it works well, the dynamic between coalition members and the leaders of the coalition is different when coalition members rely on the coalition for funding. And of course, program directors that don’t get your funding won’t be happy, and when funding gets tight, disputes like this seem sort of inevitable.

I’m be interested in hearing about other coalition organizations that serve as state funding intermediaries.

Working Poor Families Project Releases Policy Brief on Upcoming Changes to the GED

A new brief from the Working Poor Families Project provides an overview of the current GED landscape, outlines the changes coming in 2014, and explores some of the alternatives to attaining a high school equivalency diploma offered by many states. If you need a primer on this issue, this document is one of the most useful I’ve seen.

Increasingly, I think what states need to prepare for is not so much the new GED, but a new high school equivalency diploma landscape in which the GED is one of several exams available to states. The report concludes that “at least for most states… the GED test will continue to be an important part of the adult high school equivalency market” which is true, but what this statement implicitly acknowledges is that the GED Testing Service will not be the only player in that market. My understanding is that there will be at least two other major players entering this market.

When that happens, the benefits provided by the GED’s role as a de facto national H.S. equivalency exam will largely go away. For example, right now, because the GED is recognized everywhere, students are able to begin the GED in one state and finish it in another, but once the GED is no longer offered in every state, that benefit goes away.