Presents evaluation findings of Illinois’ SG pilot sites which explore adult bridge programs offering preparatory courses intended to help students transition to postsecondary education, job-related specific training, and employment.

"The following paper reviews the framework, core elements, challenges and best practices related to Bridge Programs in Illinois. Bridge programs assist students in obtaining the necessary academic, employability, and technical skills through three required components—contextualized instruction, career development, and support services. Elements include:

  • Contextualized instruction that integrates basic reading, math, and language skills and industry/occupation knowledge.
  • Career development that includes career exploration, career planning within a career area, and understanding the world of work.
  • Transition services that provide students with the information and assistance they need to successfully navigate the process of moving from adult education or remedial coursework to credit or occupational programs. Services may include academic advising, tutoring, study skills, coaching, and referrals to individual support services, e.g., transportation and child care" (p.2). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

"Findings from the evaluation of Illinois’ Shifting Gears (SG) pilot sites show that adult bridge programs offer preparatory courses intended to help students transition to postsecondary education, job-related specific training, and employment. Initial results of this evaluation of bridge programs funded by Shifting Gears showed higher completion of the bridge program by students in the developmental education bridge (students with weak academic skills in math or English are offered the opportunity to participate in an intensive, accelerated program designed to build students’ skills and to increase their knowledge of, and comfort with, the college environment), than the adult education bridge programs. However, students in developmental bridges had graduated from high school and possessed stronger academic preparation than their adult bridge counterparts" (p.2). Additional best practices for each of the studied community colleges can by found on p.5-8 Two SG pilot site case studies are explored in detail, including an overview of the evidence of success for each program. "Black Hawk College: Adult Education ESL to TDL Bridge Course.All 19 of the ESL students enrolled in the bridge course completed all five courses in the WDS certificate program. Given the success of the SG bridge course in the manufacturing/TDL industry sector, the bridge curriculum process has also been applied to developing a bridge in the health science sector. With the initial SG bridge as inspiration, the College expects this second bridge program to be even more robust and further its mission for student success." (p.7) "Oakton Community College: Developmental Education CNA to LPN Bridge Course. With respect to the first cohort involved in the SG initiative, of the 17 students who began the bridge course, 15 persisted to completion of the course. Fourteen students enrolled in the next course in the prerequisite sequence, and as of this writing they were all on target to graduate in August, 2011. They will then be eligible to sit for their licensure exam to become Licensed Practical Nurses. Further, all 14 have indicated their intention to continue their education by enrolling in OCC’s ADN program." (p.8) (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)