Iowa’s Adult Literacy Local Program Monitoring Guidelines
Revised 7/06

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 strategies.

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 attainment levels.

  • 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

  1. The degree to which the eligible provider will establish measurable goals for participant outcomes.
  2. 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 performance indicators.

    1. 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;

    2. placement in, retention in, or completion of postsecondary education, training, unsubsidized employment or career advancement;
    3. receipt of a secondary school diploma [includes adult high school diploma] or its recognized equivalent [GED].

  3. 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 Plan)

  4. 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 population;
    • 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 population;
    • 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.)

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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 measures.

    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 staff.)

  13. 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 (CQI)

  1. TOPSpro reports

    1. Teacher
      1. What reports are shared with teachers?
      2. What is the turn around time?
      3. How do the reports affect teaching? How is the information used to adjust instruction?
    2. Administration
      1. How are the reports used? With whom are they shared and for what purpose?
    3. Program
      1. How do the reports determine program improvement?
  2. Past Year’s Benchmarks
    1. As you review the last three year of data, what are the strengths, weaknesses and areas for continuous quality improvement?
    2. What goals have you established for benchmark improvement?

  3. Basic Skills Certification
    1. What are the major areas for improvement regarding basic skills certificate issuance (for example, writing, reading, math, listening)?
    2. What are the strategies for improvement?
  4. Strategies for CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement)
    1. How do you use the CQI Model?
    2. What other methods/models do you use to guide program improvement?
  5. Strategies for Benchmark Improvement
    1. Specific strategies implemented to improve benchmark results.
    2. Frequency of producing benchmark reports and disseminating to staff.
    3. How does the staff provide feedback after reviewing the report?
  6. Procedure to Communicate CASAS/OPT Score to GED Examiners
    1. What strategies are used to assure that a learner is ready for specific sub-tests of the GED?
    2. How do you communicate with teachers about criteria for GED readiness?

Section III Staff Development

  1. Original 1999 AEFLA Local Plan

    1. What progress have you been making regarding your current Staff Development Plan?
    2. How do local staff development priorities connect to state staff development priorities (for example, content standards)?
  2. Current Staff Development Plan
    1. How have you determined staff dev. needs?
    2. How will your plan improve instruction and increase instructor qualifications?
    3. What instructional methods are implemented? How do you support and monitor implementation of new learnings?
    4. Provide teacher training strategies. What is the research base for local teacher training?
    5. Describe attendance, participation, impact of local/state/national opportunities on your staff.
    6. How are you determining future needs for staff development?

Section IV Outreach & Cooperative Agreements

  1. Institutional Agencies

    1. List the agencies with whom you collaborate/coordinate.
    2. Who else might be included? How could you partner with them?

  2. Correction Education Agencies
    1. Do you work with a correctional facility?
    2. Describe the relationship?
  3. Local Education Agency
    1) Who is the contact?
    2) How can the relationship be enhanced?
  4. Learning Centers
    1. Is there a learning center?
    2. How can you increase collaboration?
  5. Work Sites
    1. Are there work site classes?
    2. How could you reach out to business & industry?
  6. Libraries
    1. What is the relationship with the local library?
    2. What can be done to increase involvement?
  7. Community-Based Organizations
    1. List the organizations with which you are involved.
    2. What other organizations could you partner with in the future?
  8. Home or Home-based
    1. How many students come from home-based programs?
    2. What is your relationship with the K-12 system? How does this connect to home based?
  9. Postsecondary Educational Institutions
    1. What strategies are in place for adult learner transition to post-secondary education or training?
  10. J. Faith-Based Institutions
    1. How are faith-based institutions involved?
    2. How is the relationship working?
  11. K. One-Stop Centers
    1. How closely does ABE collaborate with One-Stops?
    2. How can involvement be increased?
  12. Others

Section V Curriculum & Instruction

  1. A. Competency-based outcomes

    1. Review strategies for assuring competencies are met.
    2. Which strategies are working? Which are not?
  2. Curriculum linked to CASAS competencies
    1. How are CASAS competencies integrated into teaching?
    2. How are the teachers informed about CASAS reports?
    3. How do teachers adapt their instruction based on the reports?
  3. Curriculum is evidenced-based
    1. How can you demonstrate the presence of evidence-based curriculum?
    2. What future plans do you have in this area?
  4. Content Standards
    1. What progress has been made on local content standards implementation plan?
    2. How are TOPSpro reports utilized to affect instruction of content standards?

Section VI English Literacy/Civics: Issues and Ideas

  1. How do you collect student input regarding EL/Civics?

  2. What do students think about the EL/Civics in your program?

  3. What curriculum and materials do you use?

  4. How do you train teachers for the specifics of the job?

  5. What ongoing training/support is offered?

  6. What elements of managed enrollment are part of your program? How is it working?

  7. What assessments do you use to measure students’ acquisition of civics-related competencies?

  8. How do you report EL/Civics participation?

  9. What have been your major barriers to EL/Civics program implementation?

  10. What have been your adult learner successes?

  11. 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).
  1. 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).
  2. 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 skills.

  3. 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 partners.

Section VIII Assessment Policy Guidelines

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 level.

    Please provide a description of your testing schedule for pre and post-testing, including the number of hours between pre and post-testing.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  1. Describe what you consider to be the strengths of you program.

  2. In what areas would you like to see program improvement?

  3. What opportunities do you see for your program in the next year?

  4. Other comments or information.

posted July 13, 2006