To: ABE Program Managers and ABE Staff,
In this Accountability Update, I will address the issue of “target” NRS goals and the consequences to ABE consortia for low-performance on the NRS goals.
Target NRS Goals
Under federal ABE law, each state that receives ABE funding must establish core performance indicator targets for each of the nationally established NRS indicators. ABE core performance indicators include:Ø Learner Level Completion
Ø 6 levels for ESL
Ø 4 levels for ABE
Ø 2 levels for ASE – adult secondary
Ø Receipt of GED or Adult Diploma
Ø Transition to Post-Secondary
Ø Enter Employment
Ø Retain Employment
These 16 indicators are measurable, and as a state we are required to set specific, quantifiable targets for each indicator. We negotiate the statistical targets (a.k.a. goals) for the Minnesota ABE system with the federal ABE office annually. And like all states, we are held to a “continuous improvement” model. As a result, our targets have been raised each year. Minnesota ABE should be proud that over the past two years, our system overall has increased its actual performance and has met the negotiated MN NRS performance targets.
Historical performance information and our targets for the current program year (2004-05) are noted below
2001-04 NRS Results and 2005 Targets for Minnesota ABE
You might note that one level completion indicator is missing from the table above. The Adult Secondary High level (ASE-High) is a required performance indicator, but under the federal NRS system, that level is not counted in the overall state results. For the curious, the omission of that level is because the federal policy is to “serve the most in need”, and they exclude that High ASE level from that definition.
Consequences For Low-Performing Consortia
It is important to note that the state ABE office expects all of our funded ABE consortia to meet or exceed the statewide targets.
Although all of the indicators are extremely important and we are judged as a state on all indicators, the state office is particularly focused on consortia results for the Level Completion and the GED/diploma attainment indicators. These sets of indicators more accurately reflect the content and instructional focus of ABE programs – as opposed to the post-secondary or job-related indicators which have many more intervening variables.
In reality, not all consortia will attain the target results for every indicator. There are many reasons for low results in a particular data cell, with the most common reason being a small number of learners (small N) that actually set that goal. In the case of small N’s, results will vary wildly. All ABE consortia however, do have enough overall participation to judge whether or not the consortia is satisfactorily meeting the targets.
The state office annually reviews individual consortia performance on these indicators and builds rank-order tables showing which consortia are doing well on the indicators and which are doing poorly. So far, this report has only been produced and shared for the Level Completion results, and this rank ordered “report card” of results has been disseminated to all ABE consortia with the names of the consortia removed. Beginning with the FY 2005 program year, this Level Completion rank order listing of all consortia will be printed with consortia names attached.
For low-performing consortia, the public report of NRS Level Completion results is perhaps one consequence of low performance. It is not intended to be punitive in nature – the intent is to bring attention to the critical issue of accountability and prompt corrective action for certain consortia to raise their learner performance to statewide target levels.
A second consequence for low-performance will be a compliance visit. The state office will develop a plan to meet with low-performing consortia in order to:
The compliance visit will involve the consortium manager, instructional staff, and staff involved with data collection and reporting. The content of a compliance visit will be broader than NRS performance results alone. That is, all required ABE policies and program assurances will also be reviewed and discussed. In some cases, a compliance review may impact the future funding status or the organizational structure of the consortium.
There are two other possible reasons for compliance visits to ABE consortia. First, a consortium may wish to request a compliance visit to ensure that it is “on track” with its performance and with state policy. And secondly, a consortium may be targeted for a compliance visit by the state office because its performance data looks “irregular or astonishing” in some way. At some point in the future, the state office would like to validate exceptional results from consortia and document reasons for high success in order to share effective strategies with others.
As mentioned in Accountability Update #1 several weeks ago, I am optimistically confident that we have the ability and competence to achieve our current NRS target goals and to justify to funders the value and professionalism of our delivery system. If you are involved in ABE in any way – teacher, volunteer, coordinator, support personnel – you have a critically important role in the future of your local program and in the continuation of the overall ABE system.
Lyon County Government Center • 607 W. Main St. • Marshall, MN 56258 • (507) 537-7046