Over the past five years, adult education in California has experienced renewed public investment. The Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG) has led to the creation of regional consortia, which have allowed adult education agencies to partner and organize programs and services in a way that meets the specific needs of the region. To justify the increased investment and demonstrate the effectiveness of the consortium model, there will continue to be a greater emphasis on outcomes and accountability. A data system that has the ability to track student progress, measure success, and report outcomes is crucial to demonstrating the value of adult education.
Recently, a group of adult education consortia in the Bay Area pooled their resources to determine how to better use data to meet the needs of adult learners in the region. A newly released white paper, The Needs, Challenges, and Potential Solutions for Data Sharing in Adult Education, details how the Bay Region Adult Education Consortium (BRAEC) worked with RDA to identify data sharing needs and develop recommendations on how to align their data systems.
The white paper is the end result of a data capacity assessment, during which RDA examined the strengths and challenges of the data systems currently in use. After finding that current systems do not provide data linking and sharing functionalities needed to accurately track student progress in real time, BRAEC members requested that RDA conduct an assessment of data system vendors and provide recommendations for potential solutions.
As a result of this process, a cohort of Bay Region adult education consortia are currently pursuing one of the identified software solutions that may allow various agencies to share, track, and collectively monitor student progress across multiple agencies. Implementing such a system may allow adult education agencies and consortia to work more collaboratively to coordinate services, streamline academic and career pathways, and further support adult learners. The hope is that the outcomes of this effort will help consortia both in the Bay Area and across California understand their data needs while offering potential solutions to implement a more data-driven and responsive adult education system.