Adult Learning

group learning

Abt Associates uses a range of research methods and analytic approaches to guide program and policy development in adult learning. We are at the forefront of conducting research and evaluation studies in adult basic skills instruction and in providing technical assistance to state and local systems as they develop and support career pathways. Our research includes experimental and quasi-experimental reading studies that assess the factors associated with low-skilled adults’ reading development, as well as implementation and outcome studies on career pathways systems and services in community colleges, local education agencies, community organizations, and correctional facilities.

Abt’s development and dissemination of systems planning processes help improve state and local programs and policies in adult education and workforce development. For example, our processes have enhanced professional development, interagency coordination, and the implementation of adult basic skills (ABE) and English-as-a second language (ESL) services in community colleges and other service providers.

Finally, we integrate evaluation and policy monitoring processes to help states develop systems so that adults can transition from acquisition of basic literacy and math skills to postsecondary education and employment. This approach contributes to the knowledge base for systemic change in the adult learning field.


UNITED STATES: How can private funding be leveraged to strengthen research outcomes?


The Innovative Strategies for Increasing Self- Sufficiency (ISIS) project is a 10-year effort, led by Abt Associates, to evaluate career pathways programs as a strategy for increasing the economic self-sufficiency of low-income individuals and families. While many promising programs were considered, most were not operating at a scale needed for the evaluation. Abt leveraged support from the private sector to bring programs to scale by funding program enhancements and postsecondary occupational training for additional participants. Grants from The Open Society Foundations and a number of other foundations distributed to ISIS programs increased by 40 percent the total value of ISIS and bolstered the study’s ability to confidently detect policyrelevant program effects on participants’ earnings and educational outcomes.
CLIENT: Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, HHS / PROJECT: Innovative Strategies for Increasing Self-Sufficiency (ISIS)

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