Just over a year ago, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development awarded technical assistance grants to four adult education programs in the City of Boston. The goal was to help these programs explore new ways to assist students with their career goals.

This summer, the programs shared the results of their year-long odysseys with fellow member programs of the Boston Adult Literacy Initiative (ALI). The meeting was a precious opportunity for ALI programs, which collectively serve thousands of adult learners each year, to take a moment to teach and learn from one another.

BPS Adult Diploma Program

What they do: The BPS Adult Diploma Program allows adults who juggle work and family responsibilities to work at their own pace toward a Boston Central Adult High School diploma. These students can convert competencies gained from life experience into credit toward their diplomas.

How they used their grant: The program updated its core skills assessments, created new rubrics, and developed an online portfolio system for students.

How this helps students: The new assessments incorporate 21st century skills, such as computer and video proficiencies, that are important in the modern workplace. The online portfolio system allows learners to keep all of their work in a single virtual space and gives them extra practice navigating computer systems. The new rubrics are posted on the online portfolio system so students can clearly see and understand how their performance is being assessed.

 

Jewish Vocational Service (JVS)

What they do: At its downtown location, JVS offers courses that prepare adults to earn their high school equivalency credential or adult diploma. At satellite sites in Hyde Park, JVS also provides beginner, intermediate, and advanced English language (ESOL) classes.

How they used their grant: JVS created a program handbook for staff in Hyde Park and an employer engagement manual.

How this helps students: The program handbook ensures consistent quality of instruction for ESOL students in Hyde Park, which is especially important in the event of staff turnover. The employer engagement manual collects key employer contacts and teaches staff how to develop working relationships with employers to aid in students’ job placement.

 

Manny Reynoso, of the Notre Dame Education Center, shares a new ESOL technology curriculum with representatives from other member programs of the Boston Adult Literacy Initiative.

International Institute of New England (IINE)

What they do: IINE provides multiple levels of ESOL instruction to immigrants and refugees who come to New England to start new lives.

How they used their grant: The program made a number of technical improvements, including: a standardized intake tool for students, new data entry protocols, and long-term data-gathering on students’ employment outcomes.

How this helps students: With longer-term employment data, IINE can determine whether students are adequately set up for success upon completion of their English language classes. While long-term data collection proved challenging, the results showed promise: After 270 days, all respondents were still employed, most in the same job.

 

Notre Dame Education Center (NDEC)

What they do: The program provides ESOL instruction and adult basic education classes that prepare learners to earn their high school equivalency credential.

How they used their grant: Notre Dame Education Center created a unique technology curriculum that allows students from many different levels of ESOL instruction to learn from one another in the same classroom.

How this helps students: English learners hone their new language skills as they collaborate on technology assignments under the guidance of a facilitator and classroom volunteers. These assignments teach basic tech smarts that can affect the job search process, such as “Google awareness” – caution about what information to post about oneself online.