CEO: in the eye of the storm
Who would have thought that the notoriously sluggish field of adult basic education would prove to be an overwhelming sea of change…with CEO sitting smack dab in the eye of the storm?
Just over 2 years ago, the newest version of the GED test was introduced. After 12 years of no revisions, the 2014 test content was so modified that failure rates across the country skyrocketed. CEO staff instructors amped up their course materials and began offering additional small classes to address the more rigorous structure. It’s working…our graduation rate, after dropping significantly in 2014, is once again on the rise.
In 2015, CEO was asked to expand its H.I.R.E. program to offer more focused employability training for adults residing in the Intervention Community Corrections (ICCS) facilities. CEO and ICCS co-created an employability assessment tool to identify those most in need of soft skills and computer based instruction. As a result of reconstructing our H.I.R.E. program to target those with extreme employment challenges, many who struggled to obtain jobs are now finding and keeping jobs.
Aligning with our intensifying focus on employability, a new federal workforce law was enacted in 2015. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (W.I.O.A.) is setting a course to further address the education and employment needs of vulnerable populations. Increased collaboration between organizations like CEO and the government sponsored workforce centers are already underway, with the goal of providing ease of access to a wide array of needed resources. CEO has staff members working with 4 local workforce centers across the state to ensure we are part of coordinated efforts to help struggling adults.
Why the tidal wave?
Most experts point to our nation’s poor ranking in an OECD 2013 report, which showed a large, significantly under-served population of low literacy, low-numeracy adults in our country. In fact, over 36 million adults scored below a basic proficiency level, roughly 15% of the U.S. adult population, and significantly below the international average. Other revealing reports indicate over 60 million U.S. adults lack the skills necessary to succeed in college or trade programs, creating a hefty middle skills gap and leaving many of these jobs vacant.
Growing awareness of this gap is prompting heightened attention on Adult Basic Education organizations like CEO. And though we have been tossed around a bit lately, we are ready to ride the wave of change to ensure that what we do matters.