To support low income adults' progress from post-secondary training to family-sustaining careers, Wisconsin deployed initiatives at technical colleges focused on developing instructional leadership, outcomes' tracking, targeted funding, and employer involvement.

“This report presents recent data and analysis on the educational and workforce challenges facing Wisconsin, and provides an overview of statewide efforts to meet this challenge by moving more working adults through the educational pipeline and towards family-sustaining careers. It focuses specifically on various initiatives called "bridges" that are being pioneered at technical colleges across the state to help low-income adults access and succeed in postsecondary training" (p.1). (Abstractor: Author)

Full publication title: Building Bridges in Wisconsin: Connecting Working Adults with College Credentials and Career Advancement

Major Findings & Recommendations

Key Factors for Sustaining Bridges at Technical Colleges: • "Cultivate top-level support. Sustainability and scaling up of bridges depends on support from top-level leadership (college Presidents, Deans, etc.) who champion these programs internally and with outside stakeholders" (p.18). • "Cultivate instructional leadership. Adequate time and resources must be dedicated to program staff for effective instructional leadership and professional development" (p.18). • "Reallocate funds. Financial pressures and lack of discretionary funds are persistent problems. Finding new ways to use existing pots of money is crucial for sustainability" (p.18). • "Track and measure outcomes. To document what works (and what doesn’t), college-level data should be supplemented with interviews and survey data. Providing evidence of long-term program impact is critical" (p.18). • "Keep business engaged. Encourage employer support of career pathways and bridges; cultivate cooperative business involvement in meeting skill and training needs" (p.18). • Incorporate bridge principles into funding guidelines (p.18). • Measure bridge enrollments and effectiveness (p.18). • Re-think standardized assessment. For example, students who test just above or below a “cut-off” score for admittance to a postsecondary program could do quite well in college-level courses if provided extra supports.(p.18). • Increase investment in adult basic education (p.19). • Emphasize access to education and training by making it more flexible and more affordable for non-traditional students—especially low-income students and students attending less than half-time (p.19). • Support innovations that improve transitions that 1) minimizes the time necessary to prepare students for college courses, 2) blurs the division between “basic skills student” and “college-ready student,” and 3) teaches fundamental skills within the context of occupational or technical skills (p.19). • Track transition rates of low-income adults to and through postsecondary education and the workforce (p. 19-20). • Connect to employer demand and regional needs (p.19-20). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)