Restructuring California's Adult Education System
December 5, 2012
A century and a half after the founding of adult education in the state, we find that the system faces a number of major problems and challenges, including: (1) an overly broad mission; (2) lack of clear delineations between adult education and collegiate coursework at community colleges; (3) inconsistent and conflicting state-level policies; (4) widespread lack of coordination among providers; and (5) limited student data, which impairs the public's ability to hold the system accountable for performance.
Given adult education's numerous and significant challenges, we believe the system is in need of comprehensive restructuring. This report lays out a vision and roadmap for a more efficient and effective system. Our package of recommendations includes: (1) a state-subsidized system focused on adult education's core mission; (2) common, statewide definitions that clearly differentiate between adult education and collegiate education; (3) a common set of policies for faculty and students at adult schools and community colleges; (4) a dedicated stream of funding that creates incentives for cooperation among providers, with new adult education funds allocated based on regional needs; and (5) an integrated data system that tracks student outcomes and helps the public hold providers accountable for results.