Explores the extent to which each of the six Shifting Gears grantee states implemented innovative strategies connecting adult basic education systems with their community and technical college systems.

“Shifting Gears emphasized the need for aligning policy and priorities across adult basic education, workforce development, and community and technical college systems to improve adult transitions to postsecondary education. State officials were expected to identify innovative strategies for serving low-skilled adults in new ways that, over time, would be infused into these systems and the mainstream operations of their local providers and institutions. The premise of Shifting Gears was that states would be able to bolster postsecondary success of low-skilled adults if the old ways of delivering education and related services were replaced with more effective and aligned approaches” (p. 2).“The overarching evaluative questions answered by this report from the first five years of Shifting Gears were:1. To what extent have states begun to adopt and implement an innovative strategy to improve transitions from adult basic education into community and technical colleges, including serving participants in these new ways?2. What are the factors that influenced progress in the states to adopt and implement these innovative strategies during the initiative?” (p.2). (Abstractor Author)

Full Publication Title: Strengthening State Systems for Adult Learners: An Evaluation of the First Five Years of Shifting Gears

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Based on analysis of materials, the survey of local practitioners, and several years of observational data, the evaluation team found that four of the six core activities of Shifting Gears contributed to states’ ability to achieve traction on the ground. First, states that strengthened alignment and collaboration across the adult basic education, workforce, and community and technical college systems were able to lay the foundation for systems change” (p. 27). “Second, states were more likely to make progress with the expressed buy-in and commitment of senior leadership, including the chancellor of the community and technical college system, the secretary of the workforce development agency, and, in some cases, the governor’s office” (p. 28). “Third, policy change played a key role in helping states establish the foundation and impetus to pursue systems change; that is, to implement innovative strategies that would reform current operations and practices within and across adult basic education, workforce, and community and technical college systems” (p. 28). “Fourth, engaging the field of practice intentionally and repeatedly helped to build local champions for systems change. These champions, if effectively utilized in the future, could translate their enthusiasm to their institutional colleagues and to other local providers throughout the system” (p. 28). (Abstractor: Author)