Adult basic education programs—which teach foundational language and literacy skills to adults—help some of the most marginalized learners attain language, literacy, numeracy, digital literacy, and workforce training and preparation skills. Students enroll in adult basic education programs for a variety of reasons, such as to earn a high school equivalency certificate or to learn English. They may also enroll to access training that leads to employment. Regardless of their starting points, adult learners are more likely to attain a living wage if they continue their academic and training journey by transitioning to career and technical education courses and for-credit college courses.
The relationship between postsecondary education, income, and income stability is well established. Each successive credential or degree increases employment and earning potential, particularly for adult learners. However, data and research on adult learner transitions are sparse. In the face of this, WestEd’s Center for Economic Mobility explored transition rates for adult learners using data that has been made publicly available in the LaunchBoard Adult Education Pipeline followed by interviews with staff at institutions that had higher rates of transitions. The interviews explored adult education program staffs’ perceptions of practices supported high rates of transitions.
The WestEd Transitions From Adult Education to Postsecondary Programs project explored transitions from adult education to postsecondary education for students enrolled at community college and K–12 adult school programs funded by the California Adult Education Program.
Read this report to learn more about transition rates, what types of institutions are experiencing higher rates of transitions, and who is making these transitions. It offers initial insights such as:
- Only one in five students transitioned from adult basic education courses to postsecondary education.
- Transition rates vary by racial and ethnic groups, with the strongest outcomes for Black/African American learners (one in three), followed by White (one in four), and Asian and Hispanic students (one in five).
- Adult learner transition rates are higher from adult basic education programs that are offered at community colleges, compared to programs based at K–12 schools, perhaps because being co-located means they have fewer cultural, geographical, and institutional barriers to overcome.
Gain insight and recommendations for evidence-based and identified promising practices in these briefs which highlight the role of collaboration, strategies for building systems to meet adult learner needs, and how to support transitions to postsecondary for justice involved adult learners.