Adult Education and Literacy at the Texas Workforce Commission Anson Green Former State Director, Texas Workforce Commission October 25, 2014
The successful transition of the Adult Education and Literacy program to TWC strengthens and expands TWC’s workforce development and education capacity by aligning a robust and statewide system of adult education and literacy providers directly with the Workforce Solutions network comprised of 28 Local Workforce Development Boards that administer a wide variety of workforce development, education and training services via more than 190 Texas Workforce Solutions Offices across the state.
TWC finished essential rule-making in the winter of 2013 and re-procured the local provider system as well as the state support and professional development services that deliver teacher training and program development support.
TWC also selected a new Advisory Committee which is developing recommendations for the TWC Commissioners.
The last major element of the transition was the transfer of the adult education student management system, TEAMS, from the Texas Education Agency to TWC, which occurred this summer and is up and collecting student data from our new provider network.
The Texas legislature made it clear that they wanted to markedly improve the integration and alignment of the Adult Education and Literacy system with public and higher education and workforce development. The public wanted an increased focus on career and higher education outcomes along with strengthened program management and accountability. Career pathway outcomes are part of our transformational approach and are requirements in TWC’s new local provider contracts. These contracts also have performance-based funding tied to meeting these outcomes.
CAREER PATHWAYS Adult Education and Literacy serves a critical role in the development of a well-educated, highly skilled workforce. Possessing foundational skills in reading, writing, math and the English language is essential to compete in today’s labor market, even for entry-level employment. Texas’ expanding economy and tightening labor markets make it increasingly difficult for employers to find skilled workers to fill vacancies. TWC is implementing strategies that go well beyond providing the basics to integrating technical skills attainment so that more students are able to gain work-ready
skills. TWC is requiring our local providers to implement career pathway literacy programs that are either integrated with college and training services or offered on an employer’s worksite. This establishes a strategic start to full workforce system integration.
Local alignments are intended to support adult education’s development as a true workforce and economic development tool.
Adult Education and Literacy must improve its alignment to workforce development and market demands and TWC is funding programs that support pathways for adult learners that will result in upward career mobility. Local proposed program models include integrated education and training with community colleges that are aligned in driver industries. In these programs, students exit with not only a GED and/or stronger English skills, but also with technical training certificates in, for example, allied health, logistics, or manufacturing. These integrated models deliver the outcomes for which many adult education students return to education in the first place – to boost their competitiveness in the job market and better provide for their families.
Other local programs under contract are working directly with area employers to deliver work-based projects where participating students build basic skills to increase their value to the business. In these models, students are often paid during the time they are attending classes and are positioned to receive advancement opportunities or a salary increase upon completion. By being onsite, these models also support employees who may not otherwise be able to take the time away from work to attend classes.
In order to leverage resources and to provide adult education to a greatest number of Texans, TWC continues to expand the diversity and community-based reach of the state and federal system. The TWC rules and grant model require participating local adult education providers to develop a strategy in coordination with their local workforce board, community- and faith-based organizations, employers, higher education, libraries, and other stakeholders.
TWC is supporting existing networks and building new collaborations and state and local partnerships to strengthen Adult Education and Literacy in Texas for the benefit of students and their families and the communities and business in which they live.
Adult Education and Literacy at the Texas Workforce Commission Greetings from Anson Green Former State Director, Texas Workforce Commission
August 27, 2013
This year brings transformative changes across the field of adult education and literacy, the most significant of which is the transfer of the adult education program from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Workforce Commission. This transfer presents both new opportunities for system enhancement and, as can be expected with any change, uncertainty and questions related to what the transfer means for local programs and, most importantly, our students.
Many of the questions we all share will be addressed in the coming months as the program officially transfers on September 1st, 2013 and the TWC Commissioners begin to develop the policy, goals, and strategic objectives for the program.
Even before the Texas Legislature closed its regular session in May, the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Education Agency, and Texas LEARNS were already collaborating to both understand the potential areas of work and what actions would have to be taken to ensure a smooth transfer with no disruptions in service. Since Senate Bill 307 was passed and signed by Governor Perry on May 18th the agencies have been working arduously to continue the work and begin the transfer process. Over one hundred contracts are being transferred from TEA to TWC; the important work to transition TEAMS has begun; contracts to continue Texas LEARNS the GREAT centers and TCALL have been initiated; TWC has begun the hiring process for program staff and, most importantly, TWC staff and the three Commissioners have been active in gathering input for across the field.
Through meetings with key Adult Education leaders as well as a series of Adult Basic Education Public Stakeholder meetings that started in June, TWC staff and the Commissioners engaged hundreds of local stakeholders from across the state. The purpose of these public meetings was to hear from interested Texans concerning the program transfer and to provide an open forum for individuals and groups to share ideas and suggestions about current successes and challenges, and opportunities for further advancement. Instructors, program directors, students, workforce board directors and staff, volunteer literacy providers, businesses and others from across state have actively participated and shared ideas with TWC staff and Commissioners through these events. The process underscores the agency’s commitment to listen and learn from professionals both in the field and the consumers of these critical services.
Throughout the next few months, engagement from the field in the policy development of the Adult Education and Literacy program will be critical to setting the direction for the administration of the Adult Education and Literacy program and developing new or expanding current innovative program designs and enhancements.
A strong commitment and spirit of collaboration to initiate system is high at both state and local level. The Texas Workforce Commission is enthusiastic and taking a leadership role in Adult Education and Literacy for the state and looks forward to actively participating with the field’s many stakeholders over the next year to develop and deploy core services and innovative enhancements across the state.
During this transition, I invite you to communicate any suggestions you have that will strengthen and enrich the transfer.
State Director, Adult Education and Literacy
TWC Rules Development
With the Adult Education and Literacy program transfer on September 1, 2013 the three TWC Commissioners will work with agency staff to begin the development and approval of agency rules—the policies—that will govern the guidelines and priorities for the program.
The rules process provides the field opportunities to share comment and suggestions for programmatic enhancements and priorities. The TWC rules process is similar to that of other state agencies in that it provides occasion for public review and comment on emerging policy. At TWC, the process consists of several phases.
The first phase is the development of a Policy Concept Paper, where agency staff, including many of the staff that participated in the Stakeholder meetings, will draft a paper that outlines programmatic decision points and related recommendations for the Commissioners to consider and approve for public comment. After Commission approval, the Concept Paper will be available on the TWC website and notice will be sent to field, inviting comment. At this point, the public can provide feedback that will be reviewed by staff, reviewed and used to draft proposed program rules. These draft rules will be presented to the Commissioners for consideration and approval for publication and comment.
Once the Commission approves the draft rules, they are published in the Texas Register for thirty days. TWC will once again notify the field that the rules are out for public comment.
Once the comment period for rules closes, TWC staff will once again review and compile comments and incorporate this feedback into the final rules. These revised rules will be presented to the Commissioners for final approval. With final approval, TWC staff will have the necessary direction to both develop the requests for proposals for services as well as manage the program.
Adult Education and Literacy is a complex, multifaceted program. TWC staff anticipates several rounds of rulemaking over the next several years to ensure that the opportunities for system enhancement continue and the Commissioners have time to review emerging trends and consider the most appropriate options to spur and support innovation and related performance. (Texas Workforce Commission website)
Adult Education and Literacy Stakeholder Meeting Summary
Over the months of June and July 2013, TWC held nine stakeholder meetings around the state to gather public comments about the legislatively mandated transfer of the Adult Education and Literacy program from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The meetings were well attended by over 650 adult education and literacy providers, Local Workforce Development Boards and other community stakeholders.
The input received from these meetings, both oral and written, is invaluable and will assist TWC with the design and delivery of its new responsibility.
Thank you to all who attended and to our meeting partners for securing the sites and hosting the meetings.
Texas Workforce Commission
June 6, 2013
Workforce Solutions South Plains
July 3, 2013
Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas
July 8, 2013
Workforce Solutions East Texas
July 9, 2013
South Texas College
July 12, 2013
Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande
July 18, 2013
Texas LEARNS, Adult Education Administrators Summer Institute