Accelerating Opportunity: Arkansas
Request for Proposals: Affiliate Network
Arkansas and the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges (AATYC) have recently joined the national Accelerating Opportunity initiative as an inaugural Affiliate Network State. This evidence-based redesign effort, based on Washington State’s I-BEST model, and Jobs for the Future’s Breaking Through Initiative, co-enrolls Adult Education students in integrated occupational/technical training pathways at community colleges. As an Affiliate State, Arkansas joins a group of states (GA, IL, KS, KY, LA, MS, and NC) dedicated to major adult education redesign.
Participation in this national initiative will help the state meet its ambitious goals of redesigning postsecondary education to ensure that more Arkansans earn a marketable credential and contribute to a vibrant state economy. Improving pathways into and through postsecondary contributes to more financially stable families, a better-qualified workforce, and a more competitive economy.
JFF and AATYC plan to select four colleges to participate in the 6-month design phase of the initiative. Colleges will use the design phase to develop pathways and train teaching teams to begin implementing integrated instruction in Fall 2013. JFF will provide technical assistance to AATYC and participating colleges throughout the design phase. This will include an in-person kick-off institute as well as tools and templates to guide the model development process.
This Request for Proposals stipulates the requirements for submitting an application for the Arkansas Accelerating Opportunity initiative.
Building a Complete Student Success Pipeline
The Arkansas Association of Two Year Colleges (AATYC) is deeply committed to systems change and to improving student outcomes. The association and their key partnering agencies (Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and Arkansas Department of Career Education, among others) have invested considerable leadership and resource development over the past several years toward improving the state’s relative national position in educational attainment and workforce development with initiatives and grants, such as:
• Path to Accelerated Completion and Employment (PACE) TAA grant
• Arkansas Student Success Center
• Statewide Career Pathways
• Achieving the Dream
• Complete College America
• Alliance for Quality Pathways
The resources listed above have been able to help focus the state’s overall postsecondary education reform efforts in several critical areas, such as statewide career pathways system for TANF-eligible students, and developmental education reform. The recent infusion of resources and leadership that AATYC has harnessed to further advance these reform efforts with the PACE grant, Student Success Center, and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation grants, among others, provides a tremendous opportunity to continue to make an impact on the state’s national rankings and economic competitiveness.
There is still one component of the student success pipeline yet to be fully realized. There are tens of thousands of underprepared adult learners in Arkansas without a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, there are also thousands of adults in Arkansas, like the rest of the nation, who may have their diploma or GED but who have been out of school for sometime and who’s math and reading skills are not strong enough to enable them to enter college-level courses. These are students for whom traditionally delivered Adult Education programs are not resulting in transitions to postsecondary education and credential attainment for family sustaining wages.
Why focus on underprepared adult learners?
- To increase Arkansas’s economic prosperity by preparing more students and working-age adults to enter the labor market and contribute to the economy;
- As a strategic way to prepare more students at the beginning of the pipeline to bypass developmental education altogether, or to significantly reduce the time spent in developmental education and thus support PACE and other reform goals; and
- To address a key Achieving the Dream state policy goal of partnering more effectively with Career Education to impact the transition of adult education students into postsecondary programs.
About Accelerating Opportunity
Accelerating Opportunity supports states across the country in efforts to ensure that greater numbers of younger and older adults with significant educational and skills gaps can successfully advance from Adult Education into and through technical pathways in high demand occupational areas. Through innovative adult education that leads to valuable credentials and family-sustaining jobs, this multistate initiative seeks to:
• Fundamentally change the way Adult Education and Professional/Technical Education are structured and delivered at state and institutional levels; and
• Promote state and institution policies to dramatically increase the number of individuals who complete credentials of value in the labor market.
• Substantially increase the number of adults who can earn a GED at the same time as they are learning valuable technical skills and subsequently enter the workplace or pursue further education with competitive skills.
Improving outcomes for large numbers of low-skilled adult learners requires changes to both policy and practice, particularly to encourage the development of scalable program models. A critical component of Accelerating Opportunity is the implementation of evidence-based instructional and programmatic models that promote transition to and completion of credentialing programs in high-demand fields. The Accelerating Opportunity model is based on Washington State’s I-BEST model, which pairs an Adult Education instructor with a Professional/Technical instructor for at least 50% of the total instructional time.
The Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model has been shown through multiple evaluations to be successful at advancing lower-skilled students through college programs. The primary difference between the I-BEST model and the Accelerating Opportunity model is that I-BEST specifies a minimum 50% overlap in instructional time, while the Accelerating Opportunity model specifies a minimum 25% overlap.
To guide states and colleges in developing and implementing Accelerating Opportunity models, Jobs for the Future and its partners and funders have established a set of essential program elements. These draw on both the I-BEST model and the best practices developed by Breaking Through colleges since 2005. These elements are essential for any pathway that aims to help significant numbers of students increase their basic skills and move into and through credentialing programs.
These non-negotiable elements are:
• Explicit articulation of two or more educational pathways, which begin with Adult Education or ESL, are designed to get students 12 or more college credits, and continue to a one year college-level certificate and beyond;
• Evidence of strong local demand for the selected pathways, including the presence on the Workforce Investment Board demand list for the local area or other local data demonstrating robust demand;
• Acceleration strategies, including contextualized learning and the use of hybrid (online and classroom-based) course designs;
• Evidence-based dual enrollment strategies, including paired courses and I-BEST-like approaches with the goal of students to bypass developmental education;
• Comprehensive academic and social student supports (e.g., tutoring, child care, transportation, access to public benefits, subsidized jobs);
• Achievement of marketable, stackable, credit-bearing certificates and degrees award of some college-level professional-technical credits, which must be transcripted the semester in which they are earned; and
• Partnerships with Workforce Investment Boards, Adult Education, and/or employers.
Participation in Training
Colleges must also commit to participation in all initiative-related meetings and training activities starting with:
Sending a team of 3-4 college team teachers and administrators to the National Conference on Integrated Basic Skills Pathways in Seattle, WA April 30th-May 1st 2013. Travel will be covered by AATYC.
Participating in a team institute to be held in Tuesday, May 21, 2013 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Little Rock. (Location TBD)
Other activities as developed.
The target population for this grant is adults in High Intermediate Basic Education through Adult Secondary Education (grade level 6 and above) and English language learners in High Intermediate ESL (NRS level 5 and above). This population must meet the federal and state definition of adult education as listed below:
Adult Education means instruction and support services below the postsecondary level for individuals: (A) who have attained 16 years of age; (B) who are not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law; and (C) who:
• Lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable the individuals to function effectively in society;
• Do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and have not achieved an equivalent level of education; or
• Are unable to speak, read, or write the English language.
GRANT INFORMATION AND TIMELINES
Design Grant Period: For the four selected colleges, the grant planning period will extend from April 1, 2013 through August 1, 2013. Subsequently the four participating colleges will be provided one year of implementation funding from August 15, 2013 through August 15, 2014. Dependent upon the availability of funds, participating colleges could be able to participate in an implementation phase of an additional two years.
RFP Webinar: AATYC and JFF will co-host a webinar on March 7thfrom 9:00AM – 10:00AM to provide more information on Accelerating Opportunity and the expectations of participating colleges.
Topic: Arkansas AO RFP Webinar
Date: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Time: 9:00 am, Central Standard Time
Meeting Number: 798 694 806
To join the online meeting
1. Go to
2. If requested, enter your name and email address.
3. Click "Join"
4. Follow the instructions on the screen for calling into the webinar.
Application Deadline: March 22nd, 2013 by 5 p.m. Central time. Please email the completed proposal to Mike Leach ()
Grantees Announced: Successful applicants will be notified by Monday, April 1st, 2013
Questions: Please direct all questions to Mike Leach, AATYC(501) 801-3616;
Proposal format: Proposal should be no longer than 10 total pages, double-spaced, with 12 pt Times New Roman font. The president’s signature page does not count against the 10-page limit.
What are the expectations for fall implementation?
We expect that selected colleges will be ready to implement team teaching in at least one CTE program class in one of the selected pathways by fall 2013 (most likely one of the introductory courses, such as Introduction to Welding). Colleges should aim to ramp up programming over the fall so that both pathways are fully integrated by spring 2014.
Do the team-taught classes need to be only for ABE students, or can they be a mix?
Most AO classes are mixed cohorts. For example, if there is a medical coding class in one of the targeted pathways and the class has 25 seats, the college can decide to reserve 10 (or more) of the 25 seats for AO students. In the more popular programs it’s helpful to have these reserved seats available. Many of the colleges in the other AO states have reported that it is hard to schedule and recruit a full class of just AO students. Generally, the instructors don’t know which students in the class are AO students. In most cases, the AO students in the class will also meet with the Adult Education instructor outside of class as well for additional contextualized instruction, review of foundational concepts, homework assistance, etc.
Most AO and I-BEST colleges have also found that the non-AO (or I-BEST) students also benefit from the additional instruction provided by the Adult Ed instructor, since it’s directly connected to the content instruction.
Do the integrated pathways need to include GED attainment?
Pathways should include an option for GED attainment and provide students with interested students with instruction to prepare them for the test, but GED attainment is not required. The expectation of GED attainment should be based on whether the GED is required for employment/advancement in that field and whether students want to pursue the GED.
Can we serve only students without a high school diploma or GED?
The AO program is open to students with and without a high school credential as long as they test into the appropriate NRS level (4-6, or 6th-12th grade level).
Is this only for Career Pathways students?
This program is a great fit for Career Pathways students, given the degree of support available to them through the Career Pathways program. But colleges can also include other students as long as they have demonstrated they have the resources and capacity to provide wraparound support services in the RFP.
How do we cover tuition for students who don’t have a high school credential and are therefore not Pell-eligible?
This is a challenge for all AO colleges. In other AO states, colleges have identified a variety of strategies for covering tuition that include utilizing WIA funds or other training dollars, granting tuition waivers, accessing college or state scholarships, employer contributions, etc. Part of JFF’s technical assistance will include providing guidance on how to “braid” funding streams to cover program and student costs.
In a maximum of ten pages (double-spaced, 12-point font), each applicant must provide responses to the following questions pertaining to the grant application. Applicants must also submit a signed commitment from the college president.
- Identify the team members: Applicants must name the members of the college design team and describe how often the team will meet, the roles and responsibilities of the members, and the structure for implementation and accountability during the design period. Applicants must also submit an organizational chart.(10 points)
At a minimum, college teams must include Adult Education and Professional Technical instructors and directors/deans; Career Pathways leadership, Student Services, and other partners from local or regional workforce boards and employers.
- Identify the college lead as well as the coordinator who will manage the process. Discuss their qualifications and experience as it relates to this project. (10 points).
Because leadership is critical to the success of the initiative, each college should appoint a senior level leader to ensure the policies and programs are executed properly. The college should also appoint a coordinator who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of Accelerating Opportunity. These should be existing staff at the college; there is not an expectation that new staff should be hired.
- Identify the two ADHE-approved career pathways that the college will start with and provide data demonstrating that they are in high-demand, high-wage sectors. Describe the methods by which these pathways were chosen (such as local labor market data and employer input) as well as the business and industry relationship among Adult Education, Career Pathways, and Business & Industry. Describe the career pathways credentials; can students attain a one-year credential or higher. (15 points, 1 bonus point)There will 1 bonus point awarded if the Adult Education program can show evidence of a strong relationship with local Business and Industry.
- Describe the strategies you would consider employing to fund the cost of tuition for students who are not Pell-eligible. Possible strategies could include dedicated scholarships, tuition waivers, employer sponsorship, TANF/WIA funds, etc. (10 points)
- Describe the academic and social student support currently offered to Adult Education students, as well as how students are made aware of available supports. What additional supports would you make available as part of this project? (10 points)
- Describe any strategies the college is using to be more adult/nontraditional student-friendly (e.g. flexible scheduling options for nontraditional/working students; online and hybrid options(10 points)
- Elaborate on the design process the college will use in order to fulfill the expectations listed on page 5. Describe the process for engaging faculty and other stakeholders, preparing for team teaching, including selecting courses and instructors, and recruiting students. (10 points)Describe selected instructors experience with: Innovation, willingness to partner and share their classroom, teaching new models, and commitment to stronger success outcomes for students, believing that Adult Education students can do college-level work.
- Describe how the project will be sustained following the development and implementation of the project. Also describe how the colleges will use other institutional resources to successfully implement the Accelerating Opportunity model. (10 points)
- Commitment to Data/Evaluation. Please indicate briefly, how your college will implement a process for “flagging” students from Adult Education entering into approved ADHE educational pathways. In addition, please describe how you will review your data to make improvements and/or adjustments within the initiative. (5 points)
TERMS OF THE GRANT:
A. Applicants may be asked to clarify or revise certain aspects of their proposals. Grantees will receive an award letter from the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges that specifies the amount of the award.
B. Applicants must commit to meeting the expectations described on page 5, including participation in all trainings.
- Development of a detailed work plan of activities for the design and implementation phases.
- Participation in an institutional policy and program audit to determine capacity and levers for change.
- Development of a sustainability plan detailing the continuation of the activities following the completion of the grant including, a financial plan for sustainability of the project.
- Completion of JFF’s career pathways template, which details the courses and credentials to be offered.
- Development “roadmaps” for two career pathways, including a description of how employers have been involved in the development process.