Iowa’s Adult Literacy Local Program Monitoring
Introduction and Background
The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for the annual
monitoring and evaluation of Iowa’s adult literacy funded local
programs. Section 224(b)(3) of the Adult Education and Family Literacy
Act (AEFLA) states that the State Education Agency (SEA) will provide
“a description of how the eligible agency [Iowa Department of Education]
will evaluate annually the effectiveness of the adult education and literacy
activities based on the performance measures described in section 212.”
In compliance with that mandate, the following describes the Iowa Department
of Education’s procedures for local adult literacy program evaluation
Each local adult literacy program must submit a yearly update to their
multiyear grant updating staff development activities, local program benchmark
projections, EL/Civics strategies, content standards implementation and
any major program updates. The local, annual program monitoring visits
focus on the goals and objectives outlined in the overall multiyear grant
and the yearly program updates as a key indicator of program accountability.
Each local adult literacy program is annually evaluated against state
negotiated benchmark attainment levels. The results of this evaluation
are made available to the local programs and other interested parties
in the publication titled Iowa’s Adult Literacy Program Annual Benchmark
Report. The results of the evaluation are used, in part, to determine
local program allocations. A performance/needs assessment based funding
formula is used as the basis for local program allocations. In addition,
an incentive grant awards allocation is based on local program benchmark
attainment. Local programs which do not meet negotiated benchmark levels
are provided additional technical assistance and staff development strategies.
If a local program does not improve benchmark performance after a 2-3
year period, funding may be discontinued. The process for providing technical
assistance to local adult literacy programs is based on a combination
of: (1) needs assessment, (2) National Reporting System (NRS) updates
and training, (3) continuous improvement workshops, (4) program monitoring
and benchmark reports, and (5) other staff development activities.
The following methods are used to evaluate local adult literacy program
effectiveness: (1) yearly monitoring visits to all programs, and (2) analysis
of local program benchmark attainment levels in relation to state benchmark
- The adult literacy consultant sends a copy of the program monitoring
instrument to the local adult literacy program coordinator thirty (30)
days prior to the visit.
- The monitoring team is usually composed of the adult literacy consultant
and an experienced adult literacy program coordinator.
- When the monitoring visit is completed, the adult literacy program
consultant will send an initial report to the local program within thirty
(30) days. The report will outline any corrective action steps that
need to be implemented for local program compliance.
- The local adult literacy program will then submit a corrective action
plan to the Iowa Department of Education outlining the steps and timeframes
for corrective action.
- The adult literacy consultant will schedule follow-up visits to ascertain
if the corrective action steps have been implemented.
Monitoring Instrument Section Instructions
Section I Program Selection Criteria
- The degree to which the eligible provider will establish
measurable goals for participant outcomes.
This section should describe: 1) the process of establishing core performance
indicators, 2) strategies for data collection on the core performance
indicators, 3) process(es) for reporting progress on the achievement
of core performance indicators.
The measurable goals center around three (3) different levels of core
- demonstrated improvements in literacy level skill levels in reading,
writing, and speaking the English language, numeracy, problem-solving,
English language acquisition, and other literacy skills;
- placement in, retention in, or completion of postsecondary education,
training, unsubsidized employment or career advancement;
- receipt of a secondary school diploma [includes adult high school
diploma] or its recognized equivalent [GED].
- The past effectiveness of an eligible provider in improving
literacy skills of adult and families, and, after the one-year period
beginning with the adoption of an eligible agency’s performance
measures, the success of an eligible provider receiving funds in meeting
or exceeding such performance measures, especially with respect to those
adults with the lowest levels of literacy.
The following areas should be addressed: 1) number of persons (16+)
functioning at the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) Levels 1
and 2 by city, county, Congressional district, or community college
district, 2) the strategies that will be utilized to meet or exceed
the core performance indicator standards within one year after adoption
commencing on July 1, 1999, especially with respect to those adults
with the lowest levels of literacy (i.e. NALS Levels 1 and 2), 3)
the past effectiveness of the provider in meeting the literacy needs
of the adult population including the number of years the provider
has rendered basic skills education and services. (Appendix D of State
- The commitment of the eligible provider to serve individuals
in the community who are most in need of literacy services, including
individuals who are low income or have minimal literacy skills.
This section should include: 1) a description of a profile of adults
functioning at NALS Levels 1 and 2, 2) a strategy for serving the
state’s priority target populations, 3) the number of low income
adults residing in the geographical area served by the local provider
and specific strategies for meeting their literacy needs. The priority
target populations are as follows:
- able-bodied welfare recipients (AWR). Persons
who received AFDC or food stamps and who did not have disabilities
which prevented them from working. Able-bodied welfare recipients,
including women caring for young children, represent about 7.4 percent
of the Iowa adult population and about three-quarters of the Iowa
adult population receiving welfare;
- low-wage earners who were not recipients of
public assistance (LWW). Adults who did not receive AFDC or food
stamps and were employed full-time at, or below, the minimum wage.
This population constitutes about 8.4 percent of the Iowa adult
- at-risk youth (ARY). Persons age 16 to 21 who
had not completed high school and were not currently enrolled in
school. At-risk youth comprises approximately .6 percent of the
Iowa population age 16 and over;
- persons for whom English was their second language
(ESL); persons who indicated on the IASALS that they could not speak
or write in English. The ESL population constitutes about 1.4 percent
of the Iowa adult population;
- dropouts with relatively high educational attainment
(HiDrp). Persons who dropped out of high school during eleventh
grade. This population makes up about 3.1 percent of the Iowa adult
- least educated school dropouts (LoDrp). Persons
whose educational attainment was grade ten or less. LoDrp comprises
about 1.7 percent of the Iowa adult population;
- other eligible populations (i.e. minorities,
corrections, institutionalized, etc.)
- Whether or not the program: (a) is of sufficient intensity
and duration for participants to achieve substantial learning gains,
(b) uses instructional practices such as phonemic awareness, systematic
phonics, fluency, and reading comprehension that research has proven
to be effective in teaching individuals to read.
The criteria “of sufficient intensity and duration” can
be quantified and reported by: 1) the Iowa Basic Skills Certification
Program, or 2) the attainment of individual student goals in relation
to specific competencies and clusters of competencies in which the
adult learner has demonstrated mastery.
This section should describe the strategies the eligible provider
will adopt to demonstrate the criteria “of sufficient and duration”
in relation to the implementation of the Iowa Basic Skills Certification
Program and/or student goal attainment accomplishments in relation
to specific competencies achieved or student goal attainment.
This section should also describe current and future instructional
strategies, practices and methodologies that have proven effective
in teaching individuals to read.
- Whether the activities effectively employ advances in technology
is appropriate, including the use of computers.
The section should include a description of the current and future
strategies the eligible provider will utilize with the use of instructional
technology. This description should detail: 1) the type of instructional
software utilized, 2) the number of computers available, 3) the different
types (i.e. brands) of computers utilized, 4) the number of instructional
sites utilizing instructional technology strategies, 5) the number
of projected sites to utilize instructional technology in the next
five (5) years.
- Whether the activities are built on a strong foundation of
research and effective educational practice.
This section should describe specific research studies (national,
Iowa) and data collection efforts (Drake study, NALS, content standards,
etc.) conducted during the last 5-8 years, which have led to improvement
in current or projected instructional activities or led to innovative
new approaches in curriculum development, competency based education,
accountability, identification of target populations, etc. Describe
other studies which have assisted in program improvement and accountability.
- Whether the activities provide learning in real life contexts
to ensure that an individual has the skills needed to compete in the
workplace and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
Describe the strategies utilized to incorporate the priority competency
areas, delineated in the Iowa Adult Basic Skills Survey (IABSS) study,
into student, instructional and program outcomes. Include a description
of how priority competencies are taught in a real life context to
assist the learner in meeting employability and/or life skills goals.
- Whether the activities are staffed by well-trained instructors,
counselors and administrators.
Describe the qualifications that the instructional staff, counselors
and administrators possess.
This section should include the annual staff development plan for
state fiscal year 2006 (July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007). The staff development
plan should include goals, objectives and specific activities along
with an estimate of the amount of dollars needed to fund staff development
activities and the source for the funds.
- Whether the activities coordinate with other available resources
in the community, such as by establishing strong links with elementary
schools and secondary schools, postsecondary educational institutions,
one-stop centers, job training centers, and social service agencies.
This section should include: 1) the number and types of agencies,
organizations, institutions, etc. with whom the eligible provider
currently collaborates, coordinates and cooperates, 2) the number
and types of entities represented on the participatory planning committee,
3) the role, scope and function of the participatory planning committee
in formulating policy, establishing strategic planning activities,
and providing over all guidance and direction for the basic skills
program. (Please include a current membership list.)
This section should also describe the process the local provider
has initiated to implement the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with
the local Workforce Development Center. The most common literacy services
provided are: 1) initial assessment utilizing the CASAS ECS 130 appraisal,
2) referral to literacy classes, 3) providing adult learner progress
reports utilizing the TOPSpro software. This section should also describe
any negotiated financial arrangements to provide basic literacy services.
- Whether the activities offer flexible schedules and support
service (such as child care and transportation) that are necessary to
enable individuals, including individuals with disabilities or special
needs, to attend and complete programs.
This section should describe: 1) support services (i.e. child care,
transportation, etc.) currently available, 2) cooperative agreements
with other agencies (i.e. vocational rehabilitation, Department of
Human Services, etc.) designed to assist in providing ancillary services,
3) types of class scheduling strategies to assist individuals with
disabilities or special needs.
- Whether the activities maintain a high-quality information
management system that has the capacity to report participant outcomes
and to monitor program performance against the eligible agency performance
This section should include: 1) a description of how the statewide
basic skills information system (i.e. TOPSpro) is integrated and utilized
for reporting student outcomes, program outcomes, and core performance
indicators, 2) future plans for expansion of the TOPSpro system and
for reporting and accountability purposes (for example, use of reports
for new purposes, expansion of use at additional campuses or by additional
- Whether the local communities have demonstrated a need for
additional English literacy [ESL] programs.
This section should describe: 1) the current and projected number
of students enrolled in English literacy (ESL) programs, 2) a description
of English literacy target population(s) located within the geographical
area served by the eligible provider, 3) projected number of adults
in need of English literacy services.
Section II Benchmarking, Reporting and Continuous Quality Improvement
- TOPSpro reports
- What reports are shared with teachers?
- What is the turn around time?
- How do the reports affect teaching? How is the information
used to adjust instruction?
- How are the reports used? With whom are they shared and for
- How do the reports determine program improvement?
- Past Year’s Benchmarks
- As you review the last three year of data, what are the strengths,
weaknesses and areas for continuous quality improvement?
- What goals have you established for benchmark improvement?
- Basic Skills Certification
- What are the major areas for improvement regarding basic skills
certificate issuance (for example, writing, reading, math, listening)?
- What are the strategies for improvement?
- Strategies for CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement)
- How do you use the CQI Model?
- What other methods/models do you use to guide program improvement?
- Strategies for Benchmark Improvement
- Specific strategies implemented to improve benchmark results.
- Frequency of producing benchmark reports and disseminating to
- How does the staff provide feedback after reviewing the report?
- Procedure to Communicate CASAS/OPT Score to GED Examiners
- What strategies are used to assure that a learner is ready for
specific sub-tests of the GED?
- How do you communicate with teachers about criteria for GED readiness?
Section III Staff Development
- Original 1999 AEFLA Local Plan
- What progress have you been making regarding your current Staff
- How do local staff development priorities connect to state staff
development priorities (for example, content standards)?
- Current Staff Development Plan
- How have you determined staff dev. needs?
- How will your plan improve instruction and increase instructor
- What instructional methods are implemented? How do you support
and monitor implementation of new learnings?
- Provide teacher training strategies. What is the research base
for local teacher training?
- Describe attendance, participation, impact of local/state/national
opportunities on your staff.
- How are you determining future needs for staff development?
Section IV Outreach & Cooperative Agreements
- Institutional Agencies
- List the agencies with whom you collaborate/coordinate.
- Who else might be included? How could you partner with them?
- Correction Education Agencies
- Do you work with a correctional facility?
- Describe the relationship?
- Local Education Agency
1) Who is the contact?
2) How can the relationship be enhanced?
- Learning Centers
- Is there a learning center?
- How can you increase collaboration?
- Work Sites
- Are there work site classes?
- How could you reach out to business & industry?
- What is the relationship with the local library?
- What can be done to increase involvement?
- Community-Based Organizations
- List the organizations with which you are involved.
- What other organizations could you partner with in the future?
- Home or Home-based
- How many students come from home-based programs?
- What is your relationship with the K-12 system? How does this
connect to home based?
- Postsecondary Educational Institutions
- What strategies are in place for adult learner transition to
post-secondary education or training?
- J. Faith-Based Institutions
- How are faith-based institutions involved?
- How is the relationship working?
- K. One-Stop Centers
- How closely does ABE collaborate with One-Stops?
- How can involvement be increased?
Section V Curriculum & Instruction
- A. Competency-based outcomes
- Review strategies for assuring competencies are met.
- Which strategies are working? Which are not?
- Curriculum linked to CASAS competencies
- How are CASAS competencies integrated into teaching?
- How are the teachers informed about CASAS reports?
- How do teachers adapt their instruction based on the reports?
- Curriculum is evidenced-based
- How can you demonstrate the presence of evidence-based curriculum?
- What future plans do you have in this area?
- Content Standards
- What progress has been made on local content standards implementation
- How are TOPSpro reports utilized to affect instruction of content
Section VI English Literacy/Civics: Issues and Ideas
- How do you collect student input regarding EL/Civics?
- What do students think about the EL/Civics in your program?
- What curriculum and materials do you use?
- How do you train teachers for the specifics of the job?
- What ongoing training/support is offered?
- What elements of managed enrollment are part of your program? How
is it working?
- What assessments do you use to measure students’ acquisition
of civics-related competencies?
- How do you report EL/Civics participation?
- What have been your major barriers to EL/Civics program implementation?
- What have been your adult learner successes?
- What resources are available for EL/Civics teachers?
Section VII Incentive Grant Application – Program Year 2007 -
Eligible Applicants Only.
(This section should only be completed by a local provider who
met the eligibility criteria for an incentive grant).
- Describe the planned activities. This information should include
a description of how the activities are innovative, comprehensive and
coordinated, and targeted to improve program performance. Include information
on how services build on, rather than duplicate, existing literacy program
services mandated by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA).
- Describe ways in which the activities are related to improving local
program benchmark performance levels on the state and federal mandated
benchmarks for each different activity planned. For example, describe
how the activities will strengthen the local program’s ability
to improve literacy levels, increase employment, increase transitions
to further education and training, and/or improve technical and employability
- Describe collaborative efforts with stakeholder groups, participating
literacy partners and the general public on the use of incentive award
funds. Local programs are encouraged to seek public input on the use
of state incentive funding, including representatives of vocational
education programs, other workforce partners and cooperating literacy
Section VIII Assessment Policy Guidelines
- Dissemination of State and Local Program Assessment Policy Guidelines.
The local program coordinator must ensure that all staff members and
faculty have received a copy of the state and local policy assessment
guidelines. The local program staff must receive training in assessment
policy guidelines and procedures.
- Initial Orientation and Placement into Program and Instructional
Level. Please provide a description of your programs Initial placement
processing for ABE, ESL, and ASE including use of CASAS appraisals to
determine appropriate educational placement, administration of appropriate
pretest form and Selection of short- and long-term instructional goals.
- Progress Testing: Pretest and Post-Test. Adult literacy providers
should administer pretests as soon as feasible after enrollment into
the program: either during the intake process after an appraisal is
given, or after placing the learner into the appropriate instructional
Please provide a description of your testing schedule for pre and
post-testing, including the number of hours between pre and post-testing.
- Use of Test Administration Manuals. The Iowa Department of
Education requires that local adult education programs follow the test
administration guidelines in each Test Administration Manual (TAM) published
by CASAS for each test series used. All local adult literacy providers
must maintain copies of TAMs onsite for all assessments used. TAMs provide
quality control guidelines to ensure proper test use, administration,
scoring, and interpretation of results.
I certify that all staff responsible for test administration, scoring
and reporting and interpreting of results have ready access to and
have read the appropriate TAMs.
Yes _____ No_____ If No, please explain.
- Training Requirements for Administering Standardized Assessments.
Training in CASAS assessments is required to ensure accurate use
of tests, appropriate interpretation of learner results, and to maintain
the integrity and quality of the assessment process. CASAS requires
that minimally one person from each agency using the CASAS system
successfully complete CASAS Implementation training. Once trained,
this individual will train others within his or her respective agency
but may not train outside that agency.
The Iowa Department of Education requires all adult literacy providers
to comply with the CASAS training policy. The Iowa Department of Education
also requires each agency to participate in California Accountability
training annually, which provides guidance on specific state data
and accountability requirements, including time lines.
I certify that my program adheres to all Iowa Department of Education
and CASAS training requirements.
Yes _____ No _____ If No, please explain.
Section IX Program Reflection
- Describe what you consider to be the strengths of you program.
- In what areas would you like to see program improvement?
- What opportunities do you see for your program in the next year?
- Other comments or information.
posted July 13, 2006