Summarizes outcomes, promising practices, barriers and policy changes evaluated in six Illinois Bridge Programs, designed to help adult learners transition into postsecondary education for training and credentialing necessary for high-demand middle-skill jobs.
"This report summarizes the evaluation of bridge demonstration programs conducted during Phase One of Shifting Gears in Illinois, an initiative designed to address low-skilled adults’ attainment of postsecondary credentials and employment in high-demand occupations. It includes selected program and student outcomes data and provides the reader with some detail about college context, program goals, students served, promising practices, barriers, and policy changes. The six sites selected for this report demonstrated student outcomes or developed implementation models that showed promise for replication and lessons that could be of value for colleges or other institutions interested in creating adult bridge programs for similar populations. Both qualitative and quantitative results from the six sites are included" (p.4). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

"The qualitative results shed light on all three of these program elements[contextualized instruction, career development, and transition services], showing that all demonstration sites used innovative instructional approaches, with most using some form of contextualized instruction. The approaches were highly varied, with numerous reasons given to explain local variation, including the need to address local community college policies and practices, the need to serve different student populations, and the need to meet different industry sector and occupational requirements. Within the adult education model, different approaches were used to serve diverse student populations, including finely tuned practices to serve subpopulations" (p.17). "In addition, transition services and the transition coordinator emerged as a core component at five of the six sites. Qualitative results suggest that persons hired in this position should possess extensive knowledge of diverse adult student populations and of the services offered by the college and community-based organizations and community agencies. Transition coordinators played an important role in orienting, guiding, and advocating for the students, and they were critically important to coordinating support services that were sometimes disconnected within the community college and difficult for students to navigate" (p.17-18). "The quantitative results provided additional support for the requirement to include career development and transition services in the bridge definition. The demonstration projects that provided most students with career orientation, admissions assistance, and advising had better outcomes than those that did not. Moreover, the demonstration projects in which students had frequent interactions with an assigned transition coordinator, and that provided more students with transportation assistance, had better outcomes than those that did not"(p.18). (Abstractor: Author)