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June 21 -- Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), Department of Education (ED) invites comments to OMB by July 21, 2023 regarding Measuring Educational Gain in the National Reporting System for Adult Education.

The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult (OCTAE) in the US Department of Education (ED) requests clearance for an extension of the information collection for the National Reporting System for Adult Education (NRS). Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 462 establishes procedures the Secretary uses when considering the suitability of tests for use in the NRS. The regulations further the Department's implementation of section 212 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), 29 U.S.C. 3292, which requires that programs and activities authorized in the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) (title II of WIOA) are subject to the performance accountability provisions described in section 116 of WIOA.  These regulations also include procedures that States and local eligible providers must follow when using suitable tests to measure educational gain of participants for purposes of WIOA’s performance accountability provisions.

The regulations: (a) describe the Department’s review process for identifying tests suitable for identifying educational functioning levels and measuring educational gain (§§462.10 and 462.12); (b) delineate the information test publishers must include in an application requesting the Secretary to determine the suitability of such tests (§462.11); (c) identify the criteria and specific information the Department uses to determine the suitability of tests (§462.13); (d) offer test publishers an opportunity to submit for review additional tests as long as an application for review is filed with the Department by April 1, 2017, October 1, 2017, April 1, 2018, October 1, 2018, and by October 1 of each year thereafter. (§462.10); and, (e) establish a seven-year period during which a test determined as suitable would remain suitable, unless otherwise indicated by the Secretary or unless the test was substantially changed by the publisher (§462.14).

WIOA makes accountability for results a central focus of the law.  It sets out performance accountability requirements for States and local programs that measure program effectiveness on the basis of student academic achievement and other outcomes.  In order to help States to validly demonstrate and accurately report their annual improvements in literacy skill levels and other core indicators of performance, the Department previously established the NRS on July 1, 2000, after extensive consultation with State directors of adult education, representatives from volunteer provider agencies, directors of local adult education programs, and experts on accountability systems.  The NRS standardizes the measurement of the core indicators across States and establishes procedures for collecting and reporting student outcome data to enhance its validity and reliability.  
 
Section 116(b)(2)(A)(i) of WIOA, 29 U.S.C. 3141(b)(2)(A)(i) of WIOA establishes six primary indicators of performance that must be used to assess State performance:

-- The percentage of program participants who are in unsubsidized employment during the second quarter after exit from the program;
-- The percentage of program participants who are in unsubsidized employment during the fourth quarter after exit from the program;
-- The median earnings of program participants who are in unsubsidized employment during the second quarter after exit from the program;
-- The percentage of program participants who obtained a recognized postsecondary credential, or a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent during participation in or within one year after exit from the program.  For those program participants who obtained a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, the participant must also have obtained or retained employment or be in an education or training program leading to a recognized postsecondary credential within one year after exit from the program;
-- The percentage of program participants who, during a program year, are in an education or training program that leads to a recognized postsecondary credential or employment and who are achieving measurable skill gains toward such a credential or employment; and
-- The indicator(s) of effectiveness in serving employers.

For AEFLA participants, measurable skill gains are defined in 34 CFR § 463.155(a)(1)(v)(A) and (B) as one of the following:
-- Documented achievement of at least one educational functioning level of a participant who is receiving instruction below the postsecondary education level;
-- Documented attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent.

Educational functioning level gain by pre- and post-testing (i.e. the achievement of at least one educational functioning level) describes students’ improvement in literacy skills during instruction.  States are required to have their local programs assess gain by administering standardized pre-post assessments to students and follow valid administration procedures (e.g., use an appropriate assessment, use different forms of the test for pre- and post-testing).  See 34 CFR §§ 462.41 and 462.42.  The NRS allows states to select the assessments most appropriate for their state from among those determined to be suitable under 34 CFR part 462.

National Reporting System for Adult Education: https://nrsweb.org/
OCTAE submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202302-1830-001 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
OCTAE response to 60-day comments: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=132828800
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-13157

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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