Teachers College, Columbia University

Shifting Gears: Community Colleges and Adult Basic Education

By , James Jacobs & Pamela Tolbert-Bynum

This paper explores some of the barriers adult basic education students face in obtaining postsecondary credentials. The authors locate community college-based adult education within the broader context of ABE and examine the outcomes of these programs. They then highlight the various challenges faced by community college–based ABE programs. Many of these challenges have their roots in the structure of the colleges and ABE within various states, and the policy landscape under which ABE and community colleges coexist.

The authors offer concrete suggestions for policymakers that can be used to improve the outcomes for ABE students, describing the lessons learned from three state-level policy initiatives and then providing specific suggestions for federal support of similar efforts. They conclude with recommendations for an enhanced federal role in ensuring more significant ABE outcomes to benefit both students and the nation's economy.