ADULT EDUCATION AND FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAMS
According to the 2010 federal census, there are 287,000 Oregonians 25 and older without a high school diploma or GED. Most of these adults need to improve their skills in reading, writing, math and basic computer literacy in order to meet the needs of employers and/or fulfill family responsibilities. An additional 179,000 Oregonians age 25-64 primarily speak a language other than English. This means at least 10% of Oregonians need some kind of educational assistance to achieve basic skills in reading, writing, math, basic computer literacy and English language skills.
Changes in the labor market add urgency to the effort to equip these Oregonians with the skills they need. A majority of occupations require a higher level of basic skills than in the past. According to recent estimates from the National Center of Education and Workforce, by 2018 over 60% of available jobs will require at least some postsecondary education. These labor market changes mean low-skilled Oregonians are increasingly marginalized in their efforts to find and retain good jobs. They also do not have the skills they need to successfully complete post-secondary education and training programs that can move them from the margins to the mainstream of opportunity.
In 2011, in recognition of these labor market changes, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 255, which established the ambitious educational goal referred to as “40-40-20." The goal is by 2025, 40% of Oregonians will hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, 40% will have an Associate’s degree or post-secondary credential, and the remaining 20% will have a high school diploma or equivalent. To reach the 40-40-20 goal will require investing in the training and education of adults.
In Oregon, adult basic skills development services are primarily delivered through the State’s 17 community colleges and the Department of Corrections, with community based organizations providing limited services in a few areas. These programs are funded primarily through community college general fund dollars, Department of Corrections allocations, federal Title II allocations, and other public and private grants. Federal Title II funding is administered by the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development and is currently contracted to the 17 community colleges to provide Adult Basic Skills services.
With the passage of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014, Adult Basic Skills services provided under Title II funding will undergo a number of significant changes. These include a requirement for shared planning and performance accountability with related education and workforce programs; an increased focus on successful transition to education or employment for GED graduates; an expectation of contextualized and/or integrated curriculum; and expansion of career pathway opportunities for adult basic skills students. In addition, there will be a Request for Applications in 2015 in order to select providers of Title II Adult Basic Skills services beginning on July 1, 2016. Title II ABS serves Oregonians who are 16 or older with literacy levels ranging from pre-literacy through secondary education.