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National Study of the Implementation of Adult Education Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Contract Information

Current Status:



September 2017 – March 2023



Contract Number:



American Institutes for Research
Safal Partners


Higher-level skills are increasingly required to succeed in the American workforce, and yet many adults in the United States face barriers in attaining them. Over 25 million adults have not earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Even among those with at least a secondary credential, a lack of proficiency with the English language can be a significant barrier to a family-sustaining income and to full integration as citizens. Congress has sought to help individuals address these challenges—and the nation's workforce development needs—through Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. WIOA mandates an independent national evaluation of adult education programs funded under Title II. A part of the national evaluation, this study is designed to provide implementation information on such programs, with a focus on how the priorities within WIOA appear to be shaping the services provided by adult education programs and the populations such programs serve.

  • How—and to what extent—are the changes to adult education policies and practices promoted by WIOA being implemented?
  • Beyond the changes to adult education promoted by WIOA, in what other important ways has implementation evolved since prior to the enactment of the law?
  • What challenges do State agencies and local providers currently face in administering and delivering adult education services?

The study is descriptive and includes a survey of the state directors and all approximately 1,600 local providers of adult education in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The focus of the surveys is on program year 2018–2019, which is the first year in which local providers across the country were expected to operate under the requirements of WIOA. Some key findings from the provider survey will be compared with findings from an earlier national survey of providers, conducted in 2003. This will allow for an assessment of the extent to which adult education programs have evolved since prior to the enactment of WIOA. The study will also include analyses of existing data, such as information collected at the state- and provider-level for the federal Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education's National Reporting System. This includes information on adult education programs funded and populations served.

The study's first report is expected in 2022 and will be announced on

Key findings will be available after the study report is published.