Assembly Bill 86 (2013) requires regional consortia of adult education systems to confer and address the following areas:
- Elementary and Secondary Basic Skills;
- Classes for Immigrants (ESL, Citizenship);
- Adults with Disabilities;
- Short Term Career Technical Education; and
In the March 2014 issue of the Rostrum, the ASCCC Noncredit Task Force updated the field about the history of adult education in California and the mechanics of the Adult Education Consortium Program, AB86, in a highly referenced article. Work on the AB 86 consortia has continued and further developments have transpired since that time, and faculty need to be aware of these developments for the purposes of future planning locally and statewide.
UPDATE SINCE MARCH 2014
Local consortia are collaborations among at least one community college district and one K-12 district and a myriad of local providers of adult educational services. These consortia were tasked with reporting to the Chancellor’s Office at the end of July, October, and December of 2014 on the progress they had made up to those points. The Chancellor’s Office hired a consulting firm, the McKinsey group, to shepherd the analysis of the reports. In October, a regional planning summit was held to assist consortia leaders in moving forward and encourage faculty involvement. In November, the state level AB 86 Workgroup was expanded to include faculty representatives from both the community college and K-12 system.
The consortia reports were to address seven objectives, the first three in the July report:
- Evaluate current levels and types of services
- Evaluate current needs in the region
- Plan to address gaps in capacity, curriculum, and other areas
The additional four objectives were to be included in the October report:
- Create seamless transitions for students
- Employ proven practices to support a student’s progress toward his or her goals
- Improve professional development for faculty and staff
- Leverage existing regional structures.
The December report submitted by regional consortia served to update and add to the seven objectives as work continued.
The timeline for these reports, which is driven by the mandated report due to the legislature by March 1, has been a subject of concern for many faculty throughout the state. However, faculty have emphasized that the purpose of this process is to respond to the legislature and that planning by the AB 86 consortia will continue to evolve as faculty involvement increases.
In November, the members of the new, expanded workgroup were assigned to review the local consortia reports and then discuss key findings. Most of the consortia did an excellent job of identifying services and gaps in services in the region. This work utilized a variety of demographic data available to research teams in the regions. As of the October reports, consortia had a more difficult time addressing the last two listed objectives: improving professional development and leveraging existing regional structures. The ASCCC has urged that the active participation of faculty in these objectives is crucial to any workable plan. Active participation of faculty in the expanded workgroup appears to have influenced the dialog and conclusions. The narrative report, membership of the workgroup, and other useful information can be found at http://ab86.cccco.edu.
The workgroup concluded the calendar year by drawing out several messages from the consortia reports that are important to convey to the legislature. The first is that the significant and growing demand for adult education in California has been exacerbated by the Great Recession and subsequent cuts to education. Second, a significant gap exists between enrollment capacity and the need for adult education services. Lastly, while AB86 has spurred partnerships and collaborations, much work remains to meet the needs of Californian adults. Some of the recommendations to address the identified need include the following:
- Increase service levels by hiring more full-time classroom and counseling faculty
- Evaluate and improve curricula to ensure student needs are met and aligned within each consortia
- Strengthen professional development both within existing systems and among employees of different systems
- Improve wrap-around services to students such as child care and academic support
- Align assessment for placement, to use the common assessment project across provider systems
- Establish structures for ongoing regional coordination.
NEXT STEPS AND CONSIDERATIONS
While the ASCCC is pleased with the inclusion of faculty in the AB86 Workgroup, the faculty leaders of CoFO, the Council of Faculty Organizations , have drafted a letter to Brice Harris, Chancellor for California Community Colleges, and Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, to urge greater faculty involvement in AB86 processes in order to ensure that the individuals who most closely work with students can provide direct input on meeting the goals of the legislature and needs of the public. For community college faculty, student progress, advisement, and success as well as curriculum are clearly academic and professional matters. The same professional judgment is also needed from the teachers in the K-12 system. Faculty who are interested in participating in their local planning process should not hesitate to reach out to their local regional consortium primary contact to learn how to become more involved. The listing of regional consortia primary contacts can be found by visiting http://ab86.cccco.edu and going to the consortia tab.
Another update from the regional consortia has been collected and the December reports are being evaluated by the AB86 Workgroup for additional information and planning that may have been lacking in the October update. This additional information should further inform and shape the recommendations submitted to the legislature.
Local colleges have difficult discussions to navigate, as the conversations regarding AB86 intersect with other trends and decisions as well. The Board of Governors Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy directly relates to the short-term career technical education (CTE) component of AB86. The budget language from the governor to increase the apportionment rate of career development and college preparation (CDCP) noncredit to the same as the credit rate may spark an entirely new curriculum discussion regarding what serves students best. Community College Career Development and College Preparation Program (CDCP) curricula directly address the goals of AB86.
Lastly, while the final consortia reports are due in March 2015 for this phase of AB86 planning, the governor’s budget includes language to provide $500 million dollars to fund these plans. Funding the plans is intended to establish a unified adult education system that will offer more choices for California citizens to build skills that can earn them a living. This budget is expected to fund the existing capacity as well as expand services available to adults. The ongoing work on curricular alignment, student success, and professional development will require careful planning and attention from local academic senates to assist in improving outcomes through this new system.