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IES Grant

Title: Career Pathways Programming for Lower-Skilled Adults and Immigrants: A Comparative Analysis of Adult Education Providers in High-Need Cities
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Prins, Esther Awardee: Pennsylvania State University
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (8/17/15-8/16/17) Award Amount: $399,708
Goal: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H150047

Co-Principal Investigators: Carol Clymer (Pennsylvania State University), Sheri Foreman Elder (Houston Center for Literacy), Mark Needle (Miami-Dade County Public Schools), Rebecca Raymond (Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition)

Partner Institutions: Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition, Houston Center for Literacy, Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy at the Pennsylvania State University, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Purpose: Many adult education providers seek to develop career pathway programs that build low-skilled adult learners' core skills (e.g., math, reading)in preparation for specific careers or fields (e.g., health care). In this project, representatives of adult education programs in Chicago, Miami, and Houston will work with researchers to describe how providers in each city integrate career pathway components into their services. This information will help programs understand and improve practices as well as create the foundation for subsequent collaboration and research.

Partnership Activities: The adult education program representatives involved in this partnership were previously part of the U.S. Department of Education's Adult Education Great Cities Summit Initiative, which focused in part on the exchange of promising practices, including integrating career pathway programs into adult education. To continue learning about and improving their programs, these representatives are working with adult literacy researchers to conduct mixed-methods, exploratory research. They will collect survey data from adult education programs in each city and conduct focus groups and case studies to identify the key features of adult education career pathways programs (e.g., student characteristics, program design and delivery, data collection systems and outcome measures used).

Population/Sample: Chicago, Houston, and Miami are large, urban communities with a disproportionate percentage of non-native English speakers, adults who struggle with literacy and numeracy, and families in poverty. Researchers will collect survey responses from adult education providers in the three cities (approximately 200 total), conduct focus groups with a subset of 6 to 9 providers in each city, and then develop case studies with 2 exemplary providers per city.

Outcomes: The specific goals of the partners are to (a) identify commonly used student outcome measures, (b) identify the short- and long-term outcomes adult education providers report for career pathways participants, and (c) understand how providers design and implement career pathways.


Inside IES Research Blog Post

Career Pathways Programming in Adult Education Programs: What We Are Learning From Three Cities (2018)

Journal Publications

Prins, E., and Clymer, C. (2018). Career Pathways in Chicago, Houston, and Miami: Key Features and Support Services Among Adult Education Providers. The COABE Journal. Special Edition featuring Career Pathways, pp. 28-51.


Prins, E., Clymer, C., Foreman, S. S., Needle, M., Raymond, B., and Toso, B. W. (2018). Career Pathways Programming for Adult Learners in Three U.S. Cities. Adult Education Research