Adult Career Pathways from Coast-to-Coast

Research and Policy Corner

The following recent reports featured below are pertinent to Adult Career Pathways practitioners.

Federal Administrative Actions to Support Cross-System Collaborations and Pathways to Postsecondary Credentials for Low-Skilled Workers: Key Takeaways from Shifting Gears States, The Joyce Foundation Shifting Gears, February 2012

In January 2012, the Joyce Foundation and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) hosted a forum to provide state teams from the Shifting Gears initiative and staff from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services the opportunity to discuss lessons learned from Shifting Gears about effective ways of supporting cross system partnerships and building pathways to postsecondary credentials and career advancement for low-skilled workers. Two key recommendations include:

  • Federal agencies should continue and deepen inter-agency partnerships at the national and regional levels.
  • Federal agencies should take joint- and agency-specific actions to encourage, facilitate, and support collaboration across state and local systems.

The complete paper with details of how each of the recommendations might be accomplished can be found at

Workforce Investment Act: Innovative Collaborations between Workforce Boards and Employers Helped Meet Local Needs, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), January 2012

GAO studied 14 local initiatives, chosen from 89 nominees, to identify factors that facilitated innovative collaborations among workforce boards, employers, and others; the major challenges to collaboration; and the role of the Department of Labor (DOL) in supporting local collaboration. Six factors (page 10 of the report) were identified that facilitate collaboration including:

  1. Focus on urgent needs
  2. Leadership
  3. Leveraging resources
  4. Employer-responsive services
  5. Minimizing administrative burden
  6. Demonstrating results

The report recommends that DOL disseminate effective practices for leveraging resources in an easily accessible form, based on the many boards that cited this factor as essential for facilitating collaboration. Read the full report at



Correctional Education Association International Conference and Training Event

St. Paul, Minnesota
July 29–August 1, 2012

Designing Instruction for Career Pathways (DICP) session:
Tuesday, July 31
8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

National Career Pathways Network Conference

Richmond, Virginia
October 17–19, 2012

National Council for Workforce Education Conference

Long Beach, California
October 21-23, 2012

National College Transitions Network Conference

Providence, Rhode Island
November 7–9, 2012

This is an archived newsletter from ACP-SC and is available for archival purposes only. Hyperlinks on this page may be broken or may no longer link to the content specified from within the original posting date.

State Spotlight on: Minnesota FastTRAC

Minnesota FastTRACMinnesota's FastTRAC (Training, Resources, and Credentialing) Adult Career Pathways program is transforming the lives of educationally underprepared adults. FastTRAC is a statewide partnership of Adult Basic Education (ABE) workforce development and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) systems, including non-profits and human services. It is focused on improving outcomes for low-wage, lower-skilled adults through a career pathways approach that integrates basic skills education and career specific training. Minnesota’s statewide vision is that every two-year MnSCU institution will have one or more FastTRAC Adult Career Pathways programs leading to certification in high-growth, high-demand occupations.

FastTRAC offers:

  • A pathway back to work strategy, pairing an adult basic education (ABE) instructor with a community or technical college instructor to provide comprehensive support services.
  • Local programs that consist of a series of connected in-demand occupational training programs that allow adults to advance over time to successively higher levels of education and employment.
  • Programs that target industries important to local and regional economies, providing effective supply chains for employers in need of skilled labor.

Minnesota FastTRAC began as part of the Joyce Foundation’s Shifting Gears Initiative, a multi-state policy change effort to reform the way adult education is delivered in five Midwestern states. The Joyce Foundation provided an initial planning grant to FastTRAC in 2007 and continued to support its efforts until the conclusion of Shifting Gears in December 2011. The state of Minnesota is leveraging multiple resources to expand and sustain the FastTRAC Adult Career Pathways program across the state.

As ACP programs have evolved through the FastTRAC model, key components, bridge instruction, integrated instruction, and comprehensive support services have become standardized. Because of this model, FastTRAC programs report promising results:

  • Of the 807 learners who have enrolled in a bridge course, 540 have completed and moved into an integrated ABE/MnSCU course – a success rate of 67 percent.
  • In the ABE/MnSCU integrated model, 415 adults were served as of August 2011, and 364 adults have completed an integrated instruction course – a success rate of 88 percent.

This month, sites across the state are responding to an RFP that will fund ACP projects using the FastTRAC Adult Career Pathways model. Partnerships will be expected to combine the three key components of the FastTRAC model:

  1. Adult Basic Education bridge instruction that prepares adults for an integrated set of credit-bearing postsecondary courses. These courses are developed with partners, including employers and workforce development, and are delivered by ABE instructors. They teach foundational skills in reading, writing, and math within the context of the selected career pathway.
  2. Integrated instruction that includes ABE content integrated in existing MnSCU college and technical gateway courses through accumulation of credits that are within a financial aid eligible program leading directly to a diploma or degree via stackable credentials. Development of integrated course outcomes is shared between MnSCU college and/or technical instructors and ABE instructors, as is course delivery.
  3. Comprehensive support services delivered through navigator/navigation strategies.

As the state of Minnesota continues to expand the FastTRAC Adult Career Pathways program, it is mindful of the importance of supporting local partnerships and the individuals who lead them. Part of that support includes state-provided technical assistance to FastTRAC sites and a richly resourced website with online professional development training modules on the following topics: Integrated Instruction (currently available), Best Practices for Navigators (coming soon), and FastTRAC for Administrators (coming soon). To aid in sustainability and leverage the resources developed by FastTRAC Adult Career Pathways, the MnROC, or Minnesota Repository of Coursework, is providing an online collection of the instructional materials created and workshops offered by each local partnership (Examples of these resources can be found in the resource center at

Featured ACP Resource

The following instructional resource can be found in the Designing Instruction for Career Pathway's Adult Career Pathways Training and Support Center (ACP-SC) at

ABE Contextualized Math Module: Welding—Finding the Area of Various Shapes
Developed by state of Washington ABE instructors for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

This standalone module provides scenario-based instruction to teach the mathematics concepts involved in finding the area of various two-dimensional shapes, including squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles, and working with measurements, fractions, and decimals which are tasks common in welding and construction. Each task is presented through a scenario-based problem that teaches/reviews the math skills essential to solving it. Practice problems are provided in both application and skill development formats, with answers available to allow learners to check their work. An assessment is included at the conclusion of the module. Audio narration is provided for workplace scenarios to support lower-level readers and ELL students. The module is in Microsoft PowerPoint format. The file can be shared with students for direct use, or instructors can use the PowerPoint file as a basis for lesson presentation.

Specific topics covered include: (1) Units of measure; (2) Formulas; (3) Multiplication of fractions; (4) Finding area; (5) Multiplication of decimals; (6) Finding circumference; (7) Problem solving; (8) Working with exponents; (9) Rounding numbers; and (10) Converting units of measure. The module is suitable for use in ABE (EFL I-IV) programs.

This resource is one in a series of 12 modules that teaches mathematics concepts within the context of occupations spanning the Health Science, Transportation, and Architecture/Construction career clusters. The series is accessible at, or go directly to the welding module at:

Visit the ACP-SC Resource Center to find additional ACP instructional resources.


Phone: 703-688-ACP7 (2277)
Kratos Learning, ACP-SC Project
2920 South Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22206

Disclaimer: The Adult Career Pathways (ACP) News is a publication of the Designing Instruction for Career Pathways (DICP) initiative and was produced by Kratos Learning, in partnership with the Center for Occupational Research and Development, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), under Contract No. ED-CFO-10-A-0072/0001. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education, and no official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education should be inferred. This document is in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.