New York State Application for Workforce Investment Act Incentive Grant Funding

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1 New York State Application for Workforce Investment Act Incentive Grant Funding A. Assurances In accordance with the Application Process described in Section 7 (A) of Training and Employment Guidance Letter No , Change 8, please be assured that: i. The New York State Legislature was consulted with respect to the development of the application. ii. The application was approved by Governor David A. Paterson, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), the State s workforce investment agency, and the New York State Department of Education (SED), the agency responsible for adult education and career and technical education. iii. New York State exceeded its adjusted levels of performance for Title 1B of the Workforce Investment Act and its adjusted levels of performance under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act for PY B. Additional Information i. State agency and contact person It has been agreed by both DOL and SED that the state agency and contact person that will receive and administer the funds on behalf of all the state s agencies will be: New York State Department of Labor State Office Building Campus Building # 12, Room 450 Albany, New York Karen A. Coleman, Director Division of Employment and Workforce Solutions (518) DOL and SED will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding that will enable DOL to suballocate monies to SED for grant-funded activities. DOL will be responsible for reporting on the use of all funds. SED will be a sub-grantee. The total amount to be sub-allocated to SED will be $640, ii. Description of the proposed activities: Continuing the joint DOL/SED partnership established as a result of last year s Incentive Grant Statutory Authority: AEFLA 1

2 To oversee last year s grant activities, a partnership was developed between SED and DOL. Partnership activities have and will continue to include: improving communication and coordination among developers and users of occupational and career information, helping to meet the occupational information needs of planners and managers of vocational education and job training programs and individual career making decisions, development of career education instructional materials for career educators and students, improvement of career information delivery systems, enhancement of web-based information on training and careers, dissemination of labor market information, training on career and education exploration resources, helping students and adults make the best possible decisions about education, training and career development, helping learners identify their skills and interests, planning education and training pathways, providing guides and curricula that help teachers and counselors incorporate career development into a high-quality academic program, emphasizing the connection between academic work and future career options, and helping learners of all ages to focus on achievement. Key initiatives to be implemented under this partnership with the PY 2008 incentive grant funds will include: Improving the pass rates of GED candidates by making unlimited Official Practice Tests (OPT) available at 50 sites across New York State; Increasing the pass rate of the National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC) by evaluating the viability of the OPT as a predictor and diagnostic of NWRC math and reading subtests; Increasing the availability of NWRC testing by providing funding to pay for site certification and proctor training fees at each of the 50 sites included in the OPT project; Encouraging the use of the NWRC in both DOL and SED programs by providing testing vouchers for customer use and participants in validity studies as appropriate; Evaluating the effectiveness of NWRC Curriculum models in comparison to the Champlain Valley-Technical Education Center (TEC) model; Conducting small scale pilots of the General Assessment of Instructional Need (GAIN); Conducting small scale pilots of the College Board Accuplacer Assessment; Developing Career Development Curriculum to support youth and adults; and Expanding the use of Learner Web virtual learning plan to all 35 Literacy Zones in New York State. To strengthen the effective partnership established during last year s Incentive Grant, DOL will extend the employment of the two full-time staff persons hired under last year s Incentive Grant for one additional year each (through June 30, 2012) at an estimated cost of $175, This takes into account salary, fringe benefits, non-personal service costs and indirect costs. As proposed last year, these staff will continue to: Train teachers, counselors, and others in the use of the CareerZone/JobZone web site; and 2

3 Develop career development training materials, users guides and online learning tools for CareerZone and JobZone. These duties will continue into the additional year. In addition, these staff will: Train teachers, counselors and others in the use of the new on-line career development curriculum; and Assist the liaison between DOL, SED and Steck-Vaughn on the use of the OPT for workforce development purposes. The assigned personnel have extensive career development and public administration experience including GED instruction, and expertise in using career information delivery systems, assessment tools and career-related Internet resources. These individuals also have computer skills (including Lotus Live), excellent communication, presentation, and training delivery skills needed to carry out the grant-funded activities. In addition, it is anticipated that DOL will need to fund one additional staff person for the period of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2012 at an estimated cost of $214, This calculation also takes into account salary, fringe benefits, non-personal service costs and indirect costs, but would be a grade 18 (as opposed to the two hourly grade 13 s listed above) with specific expertise in assessment and evaluation. This new staff person will serve as the primary liaison between SED and DOL and will be responsible for: Handling logistics for and develop meeting agendas for DOL-SED partnership meetings; Assisting in the development, implementation, and evaluation of all partnership initiatives; Coordinating the assessment pilot studies listed below; and Liaising between DOL, SED and Steck-Vaughn on the use of the OPT for workforce development purposes. Anticipated skill sets and minimum qualifications for the individual to be hired include three years of experience in a career development or counseling field, including experience with career information delivery systems, assessment tools and career-related Internet resources. In addition, the individual should have computer skills, excellent communication, presentation, and training delivery skills. A familiarity with occupational analysis would be valuable. The individual hired must be willing to travel extensively within and outside of New York State. A description of each of the key initiatives proposed for WIA Incentive Grant follows: a. Improving the pass rates of GED candidates. Statutory Authority: AEFLA 3

4 The General Educational Development (GED) examination provides opportunities for thousands of our adult students to earn a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma, which opens doors to higher education, apprenticeship positions, and post secondary training. In 2008, New York State provided the greatest opportunity for adult students to earn a high school equivalency diploma by conducting over 58,000 GED test administrations. We also have the greatest number of testing centers to promote availability for our diverse students and regions throughout the State. SED supports these opportunities by not charging a fee to take the test or by requiring other pre-requisites for taking the GED and earning a high school equivalency diploma. However, these enhanced opportunities for our adult students have resulted in NYS having the lowest GED pass rate in the nation. The New York State GED pass rate has fluctuated between 50-60% for several years. Students in State-funded preparation programs are required to take the Official Practice Test (OPT) and attain a total score of 2250; however, that score equates to a GED passing rate of only 48%. In addressing New York State s low pass rate and to ensure that GED candidates are set up to succeed, the New York State Board of Regents, at its March 2010 meeting, approved the following actions: Require that all GED candidates in Alternative High School Equivalency Programs, High School Equivalency Programs and Department-funded adult education programs show readiness to take the examination by passing the Official Practice Test (OPT) with minimum scores of 450 on each of the five subtests and a total score of Raising the minimum total OPT score to 2500 from 2240 equates to a GED passing rate of approximately 80% from 48%. The Department is exploring the possibility of making the OPT available to all who wish to take the GED by entering into a statewide license with the publisher of the OPT, Steck-Vaughn. Replicate the GED Assessment Project (GAP) for several areas in New York State. The GAP program, which has been in existence since March 2002, was developed by the Queens Educational Opportunity Center and has assisted approximately 5,346 participants in taking the Official Practice Test (OPT) as well as introducing them to the details of the overall GED Testing process. Promote the enhanced use of the eighteen Literacy Zones that have been created with adult education funding to close the achievement gap in urban and rural communities of concentrated poverty and high concentrations of families and individuals with limited literacy or English language proficiency. They are required to make the OPT available to all eligible stakeholders who wish to take the GED. This year s Workforce Investment Act incentive grant provides the resources for the State Education Department to begin work on these action steps. Steck-Vaughn will make unlimited OPT testing available at 50 sites across the state though a statewide license for a one-time fee of $95,250. The vision is to establish an OPT Center in each of the 33 Workforce Investment Areas and each of the 17 new Literacy Zones that will be selected though a competitive request for proposal. 4

5 In New York City, the GED pass rate is 40% and two-thirds of the GED candidates in New York City do not participate in a GED preparation program prior to taking the test. A total of $450,000 will be devoted to a pilot program in New York City designed to ensure that every GED candidate is prepared for the GED. The cost of this pilot is as follows: $300,000 for additional space and staff to administer the OPT at seven OPT Test Centers located at five One-Stop Centers, the Queens Borough Public Library and a community based organization; $90,000 for computer hardware needed for the on-line OPT; $40,000 for staff development for the OPT administrators at all OPT centers; and $20,000 for supplies and materials Cost: $545, b. Increasing the pass rate of NWRC. Statutory Authority: WIA title 1B, AEFLA, Perkins IV Under the WIA Incentive Grant based on performance levels of Program Year 2007, a pilot curriculum for the National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC) was used in New York State s Literacy Zones. This was developed by the Champlain Valley-TEC, with the assistance of DOL. DOL has a vested interest in increasing literacy and work readiness of customers as they enter the labor force. To this end we fund a number of education and training programs, and require the use of the National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC) where applicable and permissible. We view the GED and the NWRC as minimum requirements for success as entry-level workers and see the credentials as sharing a common audience. The pass rate for the NWRC fluctuates between 20 and 30%. In order to increase this rate we have entered into partnership with Steck-Vaughn to develop suitable curriculum and preparation materials. However we lack a validated practice test to predict NWRC success. As the most challenging NWRC subtests measure reading and math we intend to evaluate the NWRC Math and Reading subtests relative to the OPT and establish a minimum OPT score on the corresponding tests to predict an 80% pass rate of the NWRC. Cost: $50, c. Increasing the availability of NWRC test sites. Statutory Authority: WIA Title 1B, AEFLA, Perkins IV To increase customer access to employment opportunities through the availability of the NWRC testing we intend to fund the certification as an NWRC test site and the training of two proctors at each of the 50 sites included in the OPT project. The Incentive Grant funds for this activity will be used as follows: 5

6 Certification fees and proctor training $17, Incidental hardware upgrades $2, Cost: $20, d. Encouraging the use of the NWRC. Statutory Authority: WIA Title 1B, AEFLA, Perkins IV To encourage the use of the NWRC in both DOL and SED programs and to facilitate predictive validity studies as applicable. In order to increase literacy attainment and service delivery efforts in DOL youth programs we intend to use the OPT in conjunction with the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). As the TABE and GED are correlate significantly, the OPT will provide a costeffective predictor of post-test TABE success. The OPT scores will serve as an interim measure pursuant to TEGL Use of the OPT to determine readiness for TABE post-testing and structuring remediation in cases where tester is deemed not ready could provide LWIA s a better opportunity to meet or exceed WIA Literacy/Numeracy performance outcomes. Allowing participants to take an Official Practice Test could help the program provider develop and implement a more comprehensive individualized service strategy (ISS); ensuring a more effective and successful path to employment. Cost: $50, e. Evaluating the effectiveness of NWRC Curriculum models in comparison to the Champlain Valley-TEC model. Statutory Authority: WIA Title 1B, AEFLA, Perkins IV Under last year s incentive grant, the Champlain Valley-TEC s curriculum to prepare jobseekers to pass the NWRC was piloted in New York State s Literacy Zones. Literacy Zones are a reform initiative developed by the New York State Board of Regents and SED to close the achievement gap in urban and rural communities of concentrated poverty and high concentrations of families and individuals with limited literacy or English language proficiency. Literacy Zones are intended to provide a systemic focus on meeting the literacy needs of communities, from birth through adult. A number of other curriculum models have arisen to prepare customers for the NWRC exams. However until now there has not been one officially endorsed by the National Work Readiness Council. As the Council has recently commissioned the production of official preparation materials we would like to evaluate the quality of these materials and compare them to the Champlain Valley-TEC model that we currently endorse. To this end we intend to 6

7 undertake a large-scale pilot of the curricular materials developed by Steck-Vaughn on behalf of the National Work Readiness Council. Cost: $50, f. Conducting small scale pilots of the General Assessment of Instructional Need (GAIN). Statutory Authority: WIA Title 1B, AEFLA While the most widely used measure of literacy and numeracy in DOL youth programs is the TABE, many program operators have expressed concerns about the cost and appropriateness of this measure. We intend to fund a number of small-scale pilots of the General Assessment of Instructional Need (GAIN) to evaluate its suitability as a replacement. The GAIN is a new testing and scoring platform designed to assess English and math skills. The GAIN can be used by educational programs of all kinds, from Post Secondary schools and Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs to Literacy centers and Workforce Development (WIA) programs. Gain is approved by the US Department of Education for use in all NRSfunded Adult Basic Education programs. It is also approved by the US Department of Labor for use in all Workforce Investment Act (WIA Youth) programs. Cost: $15, g. Conducting small scale pilots of the College Board Accuplacer Assessment. Statutory Authority: WIA Title 1B, AEFLA DOL funds a number of skill development and training programs in the adult workforce system. A weakness of these programs has been determining applicants readiness for postsecondary coursework. To this end we intend to fund a number of small-scale pilot studies of the College Board Accuplacer assessment. The Accuplacer is approved by the US Department of Education to establish Ability to Benefit for financial aid purposes, provides extensive diagnostic and remediation planning information, and predicts course specific academic success at the colleges that use it as a placement tool. Cost: $15, h. Developing Career Development Curriculum to support youth and adults. Statutory Authority: AEFLA In order to assist youth and jobseekers in planning, building and navigating the career exploration and planning process we will develop an online career development curriculum to support youth and adults in Literacy Zones and youth programs. Disconnected youth and adults who lack basic skills and credentials are most in need of resources to make informed 7

8 career and education decisions. An experiential curriculum will be developed to guide youth and adults through activities designed to help them address the myriad choices of personal, academic and career decisions. The curriculum will help youth and adults assess personal strengths, skills, interests and areas for improvement. It will supply information about a broad range of career options, local labor market demand, education and skills required and typical compensation. This project will involve the piloting and evaluation of this material in approximately five youth programs statewide. Cost: $173, i. Expanding the use of the Learner Web virtual learning plan to all 35 Literacy Zones in New York State. Statutory Authority: AEFLA The Learner Web is a learning support system providing structure and resources for adults who want to accomplish specific learning objectives. A learner can access the system through the Internet. In addition to on-line resources, the Learner Web integrates support services from existing local education programs, community based organizations, tutors, and telephone helpers. The Learner Web consists of a Web-based software system that is implemented regionally. The System is organized around Learning Plans. A Learning Plan is a set of steps structured around achieving an identified goal. For example, if the goal is to get a GED, the steps might include finding out more about the tests, identifying what skills one needs to brush up on, learning new skills and knowledge, taking practice tests, etc. Each step is matched with online and community based resources and a workspace where Learners can take assessments or save their work in an e-portfolio. In addition to being web-based, The Learner Web is grounded and localized in administrative units called Regions. Regions consist of a group of partnering organizations, usually led by a literacy coalition, public library, community college, or government agency in a state, county, city, or other geographical region. Regions can also be organized around a specific constituency, group of affiliated programs or need rather than geography. Regions can choose and tailor existing Learning Plans needed by their local population and partners or create their own Learning Plans that are Region-specific. Education service providers can integrate their curriculum with the Learner Web to deliver blended learning opportunities for their students that supplement classes, or that enable students who temporarily cannot attend classes to stay enrolled and make progress toward their goals. The State Education Department would like to purchase Learner Web licenses for all 35 Literacy Zones at a cost of $44,000. In addition, 350 virtual seats (meaning that 350 students can be logged into Learner Web at once) will be purchased at a cost of $16,500. An additional $10,000 will be budgeted for customized training and webinars and, finally, $25,000 is 8

9 budgeted for a part-time staff to compile evaluation data, coordinate program meetings, maintain learner plans and set up web pages for each region. Cost: $95, iii. Anticipated Performance Improvement Ways in which the proposed activities are related to improving performance levels on the state indicators of performance for each different activity: 1. Continuing the joint DOL/SED partnership: Grant-funded activities will continue to be coordinated and resulting products will be designed to meet career development guidelines across all three programs. 2. Improving the pass rates of GED candidates: Providing students with access to Official Practice Tests as training tools is expected to result in improved GED pass rates. 3. Increasing the pass rate of the NWRC: This will improve the employment outcomes for our workforce customers. 4. Increasing the availability of NWRC test sites: This will increase customer access to employment opportunities. 5. Encouraging the use of the NWRC in both DOL and SED programs and conducting additional validity studies as appropriate: This will result in increased employment outcomes and service delivery in DOL workforce programs. 6. Evaluating the effectiveness of NWRC Curriculum models in comparison to the Champlain Valley-TEC model: This will enable DOL to determine the most effective models for use moving forward. 7. Conducting small scale pilots of the General Assessment of Instructional Need (GAIN): This will enable DOL to evaluate the suitability of GAIN as a replacement for the TABE. 8. Conducting small scale pilots of the College Board Accuplacer Assessment: This will provide extensive diagnostic and remediation planning information and predict academic success. 9. Developing Career Development Curriculum to support youth and adults: This will assist youth and jobseekers in planning, building and navigating the career exploration and planning process. 10. Expanding the use of the Learner Web virtual learning plan to all 35 Literacy Zones in New York State: This will increase access for adult customers to resources that will enable them to accomplish specific educational objectives. iv. Stakeholder Consultation A series of meetings between DOL and SED has led to the development of the proposed activities listed above. This proposal was made available for public comment on the DOL web site (www.labor.ny.gov). No comments were received on the intended use of the funds. 9

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