STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION – TOPIC SUMMARY
Topic: Adult Credential Attainment
Date: April 22, 2010
Staff/Office: Camille Preus, Commissioner, David Moore, Literacy and Skills Director
Action Requested: Information only Policy Adoption Policy Adoption/Consent Calendar
ISSUE BEFORE THE BOARD: The Joint Board of Education, the Governor, the Legislature, and the Post-
Secondary Quality Education Commission (PSQEC), have adopted the educational attainment goal of 40-40-
20: By 2025, 40% of Oregonians will have a bachelor’s degree or higher, additional 40% of Oregonians will
have at least an associates degree or other technical credential, and the remaining 20% will have a high
school diploma or equivalent. In March of 2009, the Board reviewed what CCWD and other community college
and post-secondary stakeholders at PSQEC, Student Success Oversight Committee, UEE and other venues
were discussing about other credential options available to document progress toward achievement of the
middle 40%. Those options were:
Career Pathways Certificates – or two-term certificates that prepare individuals for entry positions in a
Certifications – national, regional, state and industry certifications that document required skills.
Apprenticeships – completion of specific academic and industry/trade training for required skills.
Career Readiness Certificates (CRCs) – document required career readiness skills. The National
Association of Manufacturing just announced the use of CRC.
This is an update and status of progress toward credential attainment in Oregon.
BACKGROUND: There are five initiatives that are moving Oregon closer to meeting the middle 40% goal.
Those initiatives are: 1. the PSQEC; 2. the National Governors Association (NGA) framework and Oregon work
plan for increasing adult credentials; 3. Complete College America Alliance; 4. Career Pathways; and 5. the
1. The Post-Secondary Quality Education Commission developed a model that will serve as a tool to
support decision-making on policy and state budget development. The model development begins with the
post-secondary education ‘pipeline’ to estimate the number of degrees needed to achieve the 40-40-20
goal by 2025. The current efforts focus on results, including degrees, certificates and other measures of
successful completion and how to calculate the number of students that must be educated to meet
Oregon’s goals. In doing this work, the Commission is reviewing gaps along the education pipeline and
‘levers’ to ramp up educational attainment. One of the levers/gaps that is being considered as high
potential to meet the goal is to increase the number of community college degrees and certificates. One
promising practice is to increase the career pathway certificates.
2. The National Governors Association released a paper on “Increasing Postsecondary Credential
Attainment Among Adult Workers: A Model for Governors.” This model offers governors a framework for
outlining policy areas for action that will strengthen state economies through a more highly skilled and
educated workforce. Martin Simon and Dane Linn of NGA met with an Oregon team in early February to
use the model and develop an action plan for Oregon to increase credentials for adults. The four key
strategies in the model are:
I. Innovative Financing and Private Partnerships: States must create new and innovative financing
models to support education and training programs for adults.
II. Flexible and Integrated Service Delivery Models: Many adults have difficulty navigating the complex
system of postsecondary institutions and understanding how educational programs can lead to better
jobs. Transition points (i.e., transferring between institutions, transitioning from noncredit to credit
courses, moving from an Associate’s to a Bachelors’ degree program) often become stumbling blocks
for adults leading to low persistence and completion rates.
III. Comprehensive Support Services: Increasing postsecondary credential attainment will require more
than just increasing enrollment rates in postsecondary programs, but also increasing completion rates.
IV. Cross-Institutional Data That Track Performance Measures: Data is critical to making informed policy
decisions, designing effective programs, informing individuals about their choices in pursuing a
postsecondary credential, and holding providers accountable.
The Oregon team identified a draft action plan to move Oregon forward. Actions in the plan include:
PSQEC will have adopted a model and identified the top two strategies, strategies that will move the
needle on credential attainment the most cost-efficient way linked to best practices.
Advance the dialogue on incenting “milestone/momentum” accomplishments and tease out unintended
Explore an “ASPIRE”-like program for adult learners, go to foundations for seed funding, OCF and
FORD, AmeriCorps, linking to financial aid.
Connect Career Readiness Certificate with overall adults needing skills and certifications. Identify
“alliance” of leaders to commit to adult “skilling up” “kitchen cabinet”.
3. Complete College America Alliance: Oregon’s Governor, Commissioner of Oregon Community Colleges,
and the Chancellor of the Oregon University System have signed on to Complete College America (CCA).
Complete College America is a national nonprofit organization that is working to dramatically increase the
number of young adults with a college degree or credential, to set degree goals, and develop and
implement aggressive state and campus-level action plans to meet those goals. CCA has formed a
significant new alliance of states committed to systemic reforms to significantly increase the number of their
citizens with college degrees in order to raise family incomes and strengthen their economies. To
accomplish these goals, some of America’s most prominent philanthropies have joined forces to fund and
promote this need. These include five national foundations that are providing multi-year support to
Complete College America, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Lumina Foundation for Education.
The official roll out of this effort began March 2, 2010. States currently in the Alliance are: Connecticut,
Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Complete College America will provide Oregon with tangible and practical support to help implement a
range of strategies that will bring needed change in the culture and practices of its public postsecondary
institutions. To join the Alliance a state—in partnership with its colleges and universities—must pledge to
make college completion a top priority and commit to:
Setting state and campus-specific degree and credential completion goals;
Developing and implementing aggressive state and campus-level action plans for meeting the state’s
completion goals; and
Collecting and reporting common measures of progress toward the state’s completion goals.
Alliance states will receive in-depth technical support from America’s leading experts on improving college
success, including assistance in building consensus for reform, developing policy action plans, guidance on
applying for and effectively using federal funding to produce more degrees, and annual networking
4. Career Pathways: Career Pathway Certificates build skills and competencies for demand occupations in
the labor market. Designed as stepping stones or “momentum points” toward an Associate of Applied
Science (AAS) degree, Career Pathway Certificates were approved by the Oregon State Board of
Education effective July 1, 2007. Since that time, more than 160 Career Pathway Certificates have been
developed and approved at 16 community colleges. Roadmaps are also available for all Career Pathway
Certificates through the 17 community college websites (www.MyPathCareers.org). Through current efforts
at the 17 colleges, 45 new Career Pathway Certificates are currently under development and are planned
for approval in the coming year.
During the first year (2007-08) Certificates were in development and approval. In June 2008, 29 students
were awarded Certificates statewide. The following year in June 2009, 235 students completed Career
Pathway Certificates across the state and 352 students completed Less Than One Year (LTOY) and other
short-term credit Certificates. As the word about Certificates continues to spread through college catalogs,
Student Services, and websites, and colleges continue to improve processes to increase student
completions, many more student completers are anticipated. Through Career Pathways Grants awarded to
the 17 community colleges with funding from the Community College Strategic Fund, each of the colleges
identified goals to increase student completions of Career and Pathways and other 12-44 credit
Certificates. The target goal determined by the college for student completions by June 2011 is 2,365.
Career Pathway Certificates are one way to increase certificates and credentials to meet both the
workforce need for skills and the adults need for having certificates that they can build upon in the future.
Working in partnership with the Oregon Employment Department’s Green Labor Market Information (LMI)
grant awarded by US Department of Labor in December 2009, five statewide Career Pathway Roadmaps
will be developed over the next fifteen months in “green occupations.” Opportunities for developing Career
Pathway Certificates will be identified and advanced as competencies are identified by employers.
Adult Credential Attainment: Oregon Pathways for Adult Basic Skills Transition to Education and
Oregon Pathways for Adult Basic Skills Transition to Education and Work (OPABS) will help to strengthen
the state’s economy by increasing adults’ levels of educational and credential attainment so that they are
qualified for employment in high-demand jobs. Of the 29,800 adults enrolled in Adult Basic Skills programs
during 2008-2009, less than half transitioned to postsecondary education or training after completing basic
skills instruction (Oregon National Reporting System Data, 2008-2009). Adults who do transition from basic
skills to postsecondary education often are not prepared to complete their postsecondary course of study.
According to a recent American Council on Education study of adults who obtained a General Educational
Development (GED), only 12 percent earned a postsecondary degree or credential. Both state and national
data point to the need to strengthen Oregon’s basic skills programs so that adults entering these programs
are able to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to access and complete postsecondary education
and thereby increase their career opportunities.
Oregon Pathways for Adult Basic Skills will include the following components of services:
Accelerated Adult Basic Skills (ABS) courses that prepare ABS students to enter and succeed in
College and Career Awareness courses and advising services that assist ABS students in identifying a
career path that is aligned with their knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests and that facilitates their
enrollment and success in the postsecondary community college system;
ABS Program Restructuring that involves improvements in the delivery of program services to facilitate
ABS students’ goal setting, assessment, class placement, engagement, and transition to
postsecondary education and training;
Coordination activities that facilitate ABS faculty’s work with postsecondary faculty and with one-stop
career center staff in the design and delivery of ABS services;
Professional Development for ABS program directors and faculty to increase their skills and knowledge
to design and deliver accelerated basic skills courses, restructure program services to increase
students’ educational attainment, and work with postsecondary faculty and one-stop career center staff;
Evaluation services in which data are collected, analyzed, and reported about ABS students’ ABS
participation and outcomes, postsecondary participation and outcomes, and ABS faculty’s outcomes
from professional development.
5. Career Readiness Certificate (CRC): The National Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) in Oregon will
provide documented, transportable, skills-based certificates to Oregon citizens that assist them in obtaining
employment within Oregon and across the nation. Employers will recognize the CRC as a meaningful
credential and will have confidence that certificate holders have the skills necessary to be successful in the
workplace. The CRC will be easily accessible to young people and adults in one or more of the following
institutions: WorkSource Oregon centers, community colleges, education service districts, high schools, or
other access points.
Oregon’s National Career Readiness Certificate supports the strategic plan of the Governor and the
Oregon Workforce Investment Board’s goal to prepare an agile, innovative workforce with the skills needed
to succeed in the knowledge-based economy. Oregon’s National Career Readiness Certificate will:
Identify their workplace skills and skill gaps and connect to a successful work experience.
Enhance and document their workplace skills.
Earn a portable, skill-based credential that will assist in obtaining employment.
Have confidence in this portable credential as a tool to build a workforce with documented skills
necessary for success in the workplace.
Create a return on investment by reducing hiring costs, training costs, and employee turnover.
Be supported by a strong delivery system to
Ensure a seamless, sustainable, and customer-oriented system for Oregonians seeking
the credential that includes appropriate referral procedures, training, and support.
Position WorkSource Oregon centers, community colleges, education service districts, and high
schools as the core, service delivery providers.
Develop meaningful evaluation and measurement tools that effectively serve all stakeholders and
Ensure long-term funding for sustainability.
By Oregonians as a valuable credential to get hired for good jobs.
By employers as a tool that helps them hire and retain qualified employees.
By high school students, parents, and educators as a valuable tool for measuring skills.
By educators as an alternative assessment to document some of the Essential Skills for high school
By elected officials and policy makers as an important credential to advance Oregon’s education,
workforce development, and economic development goals, and to advance Oregon’s ambitious 40-
40-20 education attainment goals. (40% of Oregon adults to have a bachelor’s degree or higher; 40
% to have at least an associate’s degree or other technical credential; and the remaining 20 % to
have a high school diploma guaranteeing strong academic and work readiness skills.)
Objectives adopted by the Implementation Committee
Create strong demand for the certificate among employers and job seekers.
Scale up the number of certificate earners.
Build a sustainable infrastructure to support a strong delivery system that links to other appropriate
training, education, and job placement opportunities.
Build a sustainable long-term funding stream for the program.
Developments since the last Board update
E3 Partnership: CCWD has partnered with E3 (Employers for Education Excellence), a statewide
education non-profit launched by the Oregon Business Council in 1996. Through this partnership, René
Léger (E3’s Executive Director), is serving as a loaned executive to the CRC Program over this year. Mr.
Léger will work closely with the CCWD staff and key partners on the planning and implementation of the
statewide effort particularly as it relates to building employer demand.
Performance Management: A Results Team and Data Team will be working over the next few months to
develop the foundation for the performance management system for the CRC initiative.
The Results Team is a mechanism for engaging the “doers” in the process of recommending strategies
and selecting appropriate measures to evaluate the success of the strategies.
The Data Team will deal with the technical issues of collecting and using data related to the
performance measures recommended by the Results Team.
Strategic Marketing and Communications Plan: CCWD staff and E3 are working to develop a strategic
marketing and communications plan to build awareness of, and engagement with, the CRC initiative. The
plan will address both short-term and long-term needs as the program moves forward toward a formal
Pilot Sites: Currently, as a result of a Response For Proposal process, there are 13 pilot sites across the
state that are implementing the CRC. Best and promising practices from these pilot sites will be used to
guide and inform implementation strategies.
The CRC will be implemented based on an employer “pull” strategy where employer needs and demand
will inform infrastructure development and services. The supply-side will utilize a diversified strategy that
involves, potentially, multiple assessment and certification sites like the WSO Centers and other WIA
providers, economic development entities, community colleges and local partners. WorkSource Oregon
Centers serve as the "Front Door" to CRC service delivery for employers and job seekers and as the
"connectors" to all open CRC sites. Statewide delivery capacity will be in place by December 31, 2010.
Certificates Issued: In Oregon, over 1,400 certificates have been earned to date.