A big topic at the recent conferences I have been attending, including some regional state conferences and COABE in Denver, has been the new WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014) legislation that was passed by Congress. This is one of the key funding vehicles that provide adults with education at the local level. The previous legislation, WIA (Workforce Investment Act), provided funding to agencies to help educate adults who lack basic skills. Both acts are meant to educate adults who lack basic education (think Reading or Math or speaking English), who dropped out of high school and now realize they need to finish their high school diploma or want to pass the HSE (High School Equivalence – the old “GED”), or who want basic job training classes, otherwise known as Career Technical Education (vocational schools in the old days).
WIOA was passed in 2014. So you would expect, as we roll into the 2015/2016 school year, almost a year since the bill passed Congress, that states and schools would already know what the requirements are and how they will obtain funding. You know, the basics, like what demographic information is required about each student, how does the agency show the student made progress for all the money spent educating them, etc. But, you guessed wrong. Time and again this year, all we’ve heard is “wait and see”. The best that can be done is to use the old guidelines from WIA and assume that the new requirements won’t be much different. But since funding for the current school year is based on the new requirements and no one knows what those are, schools are left in a lurch and are simply hoping they do the right thing and won’t be penalized. Fun position to be in.
When you get right down to it, the goal of WIOA is to educate adults, prepare them for the workforce and get them jobs. Seems pretty simple. There are multiple tools out there to assess students’ education level and see if they are making progress and retaining what they are taught. And career training is pretty simple too. Did the person get a job or get a better job? Not too hard to assess that. But it does take time and effort. Schools need to follow up with students after they leave. This isn’t easy, but it can be done. Unfortunately, as school budgets are getting cut time and again, there are fewer resources to contact students to get the proof that is required to keep the funding coming. Interesting dilemma, eh?