Presents estimates and examines the impact of the Accelerating Opportunity initiative, an integrated career pathway program with stackable industry-recognized credentials at community and technical colleges, related to education and employment outcomes for underprepared students and adults without high school credentials in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana between 2012 and 2014.

“For most workers, a high school diploma or credential is not sufficient to succeed in the modern economy….Moreover, even adults who have high school credentials frequently come to college underprepared, with below-college-level skills” (p.VI).

From 2012 to 2014, “the Accelerating Opportunity (AO) initiative…[gave] underprepared students and adults without high school credentials an opportunity to enroll in integrated career pathway programs at community and technical colleges. AO was based on Washington State’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model and lessons from the Breaking Through initiative. AO allowed students scoring in the 6th- through 12th-grade National Reporting System (NRS) educational functioning levels to enter career and technical education (CTE) courses concurrently with high school equivalency (HSE) completion programs through adult education or other skill-building courses.

The pathways offered…paths to multiple stackable, industry-recognized credentials within about 12 credit hours. To promote students’ postsecondary success, colleges…provided team teaching in at least 25 percent of their classes, where a CTE instructor worked alongside an adult education instructor in the classroom, as well as contextualized instruction, accelerated learning, supportive navigation services, and connections with employers and workforce agencies to help students complete their coursework and transition from AO pathways to the workforce” (p. VI).

The authors “led a rigorous evaluation of AO in four states to inform policymakers and practitioners on the model’s potential to improve postsecondary education and employment outcomes for adults with low basic skills” (p. VI).

“This…report…presents estimates of how AO career pathway programs affected the educational and employment outcomes of participants in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The impact analysis examined four key educational outcomes of AO: the number of credits earned, earning at least 12 academic credits, earning any credential offered by a community college, and the number of credentials earned.

The analysis also estimated…the probability of being employed after enrollment…and the quarterly earnings of AO participants. These outcomes reflect…AO’s theory of change: to improve the educational and employment trajectories of underprepared adult learners and thereby increase their employment and earnings…” (p.VI-VII).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)