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Accelerating Opportunity Initiative: New Evaluation Report Released

Posted on 08/03/2016

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Aspen Workforce Strategies Initiative (WSI) External link opens in new window or tab, in collaboration with the Urban Institute External link opens in new window or tab , recently released a new evaluation report, Implementation of Accelerating Opportunity: Final Implementation Findings with Lessons for the Field External link opens in new window or tab. The Accelerating Opportunity (AO) initiative is intended to expand economic opportunities for adult students with low basic skills through earning valued occupational credentials, obtaining well-paying jobs, and sustaining rewarding careers.

Accelerating Opportunity, begun in 2011, was designed as an integrated approach to encourage states to enroll students in credit-bearing career and technical education courses at local community colleges, while simultaneously helping them improve their basic education skills. According to the report, the “AO model focused on students who scored between the 6th- and 12th-grade level in basic skill areas but who expressed interest in earning technical credentials. In particular, AO was designed for adult education students who lacked high school diplomas or the equivalent.”

This final implementation report presents findings over the first three years of the initiative—in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana—and provides an in-depth description of the process and lessons that emerged. The report identifies several specific elements for successful implementation, including the following:

  • Receiving state leadership and support;
  • Removing policy barriers;
  • Considering college institutional factors;
  • Utilizing partnerships both from within and outside the colleges; and
  • Providing both academic and social student supports.

The report findings may be of particular interest to state policymakers, colleges, and others planning for the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) — which provides new opportunities for integrated career pathway development within states and colleges. For more information, interested parties are encouraged to read the full report.

Source: Issue 250 OCTAE Connection - July 21, 2016 External link opens in new window or tab