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April 2016 Newsletter

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Using Information (Data) to Change Behavior

At home, sometimes we get the feeling we are spending a lot of money. This is usually confirmed by checking our bank account. Ouch! Often, a bank can provide data to show trends in our spending habits that can confirm or deny our feelings. Sometimes, we may want to take action to change or reinforce those trends.

Similarly, data is used to confirm or deny trends in our adult literacy services. Much of this data must be entered manually into our TOPSpro Enterprise® system. However, some of it is automated. We use CASAS eTests Online to administer online assessments. eTests calculates scores automatically and places students in an educational functional level. eTests can also be configured to collect demographic information. While sometimes very tedious, proper data entry is important. The bottom line is good data collection results in data to show trends in our program.

Congratulations on your hard work! Currently, we are on an upward trend on our key indicators of enrollment, post-testing, and educational functional level (EFL) of completions over the last three years. These are areas we have strived to improve. We’ve increased our enrollment 32%, from 9,244 students in program year 2012-2013 to 12,203 students in program year 2014-2015. 

Post-test rate is defined as those students who complete at least 12 hours of instruction, a pretest, and a post-test. Our post-test rate increased from 46% to 63% over those same program years. The average post-test rate for program year 2014-2015 was 64%.

Our EFL benchmarks are negotiated with the federal government. Three years ago, we did not meet any of these benchmarks. Last year we met all 11 negotiated benchmarks! During program year 2014-2015, our overall average percent of students who completed an EFL was 44% and nationally it was 42%. EFL benchmarks will be part of the measurements used by the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which the state will begin reporting on in the program year 2015-2016. As our enrollment and post-test rates rise, we also want to continue to see improvement in EFL completion levels.

We’ve used data to gain a better understanding of the results we are achieving. We’ve monitored our progress on these indicators and taken action to change our trends. We continue to work towards sharing meaningful data. Find current information at the Iowa Department of Education website about Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Enrollment Progress. More AEL information can be found in the Annual Condition of Iowa's Community Colleges 2015 report and the data tables in Section 9.

Four Reasons to Earn Your HSEDClick to display larger

Receiving your High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) will transform your life. You will have a higher chance of keeping a well-paying job, enjoy better health, educate and inspire those around you, and experience personal growth. You will be able to dream big and move forward in your life.

Attaining your HSED will open many doors for you. In today’s job market, a college degree is very important. By obtaining your HSED, you will have the opportunity to further your education in college, ultimately leading to many job opportunities. According to the Adult Literacy in Iowa study conducted by the National Adult Literacy Survey, the more education respondents’ parents had completed, the more education they themselves were likely to have completed —and the higher their literacy proficiencies were likely to be. By obtaining your diploma you will become a role model and break the cycle of low literacy that may be occurring within your own children, family, and even friends.

Career Opportunities
A major benefit of obtaining an HSED is that you are more likely to have a job with a higher salary. It is possible that from this job you will also receive health insurance and retirement benefits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average-wage earner in the U.S. makes about $812 per week while an adult without a high school diploma or equivalent earns only $472. In Iowa, adults with a higher average literacy level work more weeks, on average, than individuals in the lower levels. By earning an HSED, you will be on the path to a secure economic future and greater career opportunities.

Personal Growth
According to ProLiteracy, in the U.S. today there are 36 million adults who can't read at a higher level than the average third grader. Without basic reading, writing, math, and computer skills, one may experience low self-esteem. Iowa residents with relatively fewer years of education demonstrated lower literacy proficiencies than those who completed high school or some postsecondary education. By obtaining your HSED you will be able to gain a sense of pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment. By improving your own life, you will be inspired to give back to others. Research by CNCS reports that giving back by volunteering provides individual health benefits, such as greater functional ability and lower rates of depression, in addition to social benefits.

Another reason to pursue your HSED is to protect your health. ProLiteracy describes that patients with low literacy skills have a 50% increased risk of hospitalization. Nearly half of American adults with low literacy have difficulty understanding and using health information. With a lack of understanding, one is unable to make appropriate health decisions, and that may result in higher health costs. By earning a diploma, you will have a better understanding to make informed decisions. Also, you will most likely have financial assistance from your job through your health insurance.

At present, 36 million American adults need literacy help, and only 3 million of them will be lucky enough to receive that help. In Iowa, more than 250,000 people do not have their high school diploma. Your Future Starts Here can help you become one of the lucky ones and start you on your path to earning your HSED. Every adult has the ability to fulfill his or her life through literacy. Forge YOUR path by earning your HSED.

One Door Many Paths  a WIOA partners' conference

Join us for the One Door Many Paths conference on June 27-28 at the Prairie Meadows Conference Center in Altoona, Iowa.

Featured Session

Enhanced Collaboration with Google
Martin Moen

The State of Iowa is moving to Google Gmail in 2016, which brings new potential for enhanced collaboration to all state employees. Iowa Workforce Development has been working with Google technology for more than two years to improve internal collaboration and offer new services to the citizens of Iowa. This session will highlight several Google technologies that IWD uses today, and it will give participants a hands-on opportunity with several of the products.

HiSET in Iowa
Jonna McDonough

AEL instructors are a key partner in preparing adults without a high school diploma for college and career paths. This session will support their instructional focus so that adults pursuing Iowa’s High School Equivalency Diploma are prepared for the state approved high school equivalency assessment, HiSET.  

Register Here!

View more conference information such as the conference agenda or hotel information here.

Coordinator Spotlight: Meet Lisa Washington

Lisa Washington
Adult education and literacy programmer
Iowa Lakes Community College

How long have you been an administrator for adult education?
I've run the AEL program for four years. I've been at Iowa Lakes for 15 years and have had positions in a variety of different areas, including the receptionist, the cashier for accounts receivable, and the housing assistant. After that, I began working with secondary programs, first as the assistant then as the coordinator. I worked in the secondary office for 12 of my 15 years before I was assigned to run Adult Education and Literacy.

Tell us one thing you enjoy about your position.
I enjoy being part of the shared celebration and excitement with students and instructors when a student finally meets their educational goal, especially for those who have struggled. I feel this as well when we as a program take a risk and it pays off.

Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Grand Junction, Colorado, but graduated high school from Mallard, Iowa. I have lived in six states: Colorado, Iowa, Florida, California, New Jersey, Texas, and back to Iowa. I received my bachelor's in business from Buena Vista University and am finishing up my master's in education from Southwest Minnesota State University. I have one son, Taran, who graduated from UNI last summer and now works in Houston, Texas, for a company who provides cloud security. I love traveling, photography, reading, laughing, drinking good wine (no, laughing and drinking wine are not contingent on each other), watching movies, and spending time with friends.

If you could be famous for anything, what would it be? Why?
I would want to be famous for helping those who don't have options. I play the lottery on occasion and dream of what I would do with all of my mega-million winnings. The first thought that comes to mind is paying off all my bills obviously; I'm not a saint after all! But after that, I dream of building health care facilities for people who are out in the middle of nowhere. I'd build grocery stores that provide good sources of nutrition in areas where there aren't any choices. I'd build shelters, develop affordable housing, and provide educational opportunities. I guess I'd want to be a philanthropist who really makes a difference. I happen to think there are a lot of people who could be making a difference who choose not to, and I wouldn't want to be one of them.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The fact is, there are very few places I wouldn't want to travel. I want to see it all! My top five in no particular order would be: New Zealand, Scotland, Greece, Italy, and Peru. I am moved and amazed by the history and cultures that exist on this planet.

If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future? Why?
I'd go to the past. I wouldn't want to alter events, so to speak, but, I'd take advantage of what I didn't then. I'd see more things and get more out of all the great places I've lived. I'd make more great memories. I'd give myself a break and not be so hard on myself. I'd appreciate more. I'd correct parenting mistakes (practice more patience — sorry Taran, LOL). And I'd write everything down so that when my memory lets me down, I'd still have access to those wonderful memories — like the truly delightful comments from my son when he was little.

Iowa AEL Graduation Success Stories 

The Your Future Starts Here campaign will share the graduation success stories of Iowans who passed the HiSET and earned their high school equivalency diplomas (HSED). The process of earning an HSED can seem daunting to many. By sharing your story, you can help encourage others to start the process and have the opportunity to further their education or advance their careers. Share your story with us this May and help others to forge their path!

Complete the entry form, include an image or video of the student, and return to Kelsi Lindemann at between May 2 and May 31, 2016, to be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card!


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