A Texas Community College Initiative Aims to Advance Equity and Opportunity for English-Language Learners | Ascendium Education Group, Inc. Skip to main content

EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY DIVISION OF ASCENDIUM EDUCATION GROUP

Newsletter Article May 14, 2024

A Texas Community College Initiative Aims to Advance Equity and Opportunity for English-Language Learners

English-language learners (ELLs) represent a diverse and growing segment of our population, yet they often encounter numerous obstacles on their path to postsecondary education success. These barriers, including financial constraints, familial responsibilities, and unclear pathways, can significantly impede these learners’ transition from adult education English as a Second Language (ESL) programs to college-level courses and workforce training.

To combat these challenges, the Texas Community College Education Initiative is working to bridge the gap between ESL programs and community college credentials, including industry-based certifications, vocational certificates, and academic degrees. As part of this work, the Texas Community College Education Initiative will partner with WestEd and Student-Ready Strategies to provide technical assistance and develop resources that support ELLs statewide. By addressing placement and curricular barriers, Texas community colleges aim to facilitate seamless transitions for ELLs into postsecondary education and workforce training programs.

Central to the initiative's strategy is collaboration with stakeholders statewide to create a new state education plan. This plan will prioritize expanding access to federal aid for adult learners in ESL pathways so that financial barriers do not hinder educational pursuits. Furthermore, by incentivizing the creation of effective pathways for ELLs through initiatives like Texas House Bill 8, which ties state funding to the completion of valuable credentials, the initiative seeks to align educational systems with workforce goals.

The significance of this initiative is profound, particularly in the context of Texas's workforce needs. With approximately 70% of jobs in the state requiring a postsecondary credential in the coming decade, it is critical to create pathways that enable ELLs to acquire the skills and qualifications necessary to thrive in the workforce. By bridging the gap between ESL programs and community college credentials, the Texas Community College Education Initiative is not only advancing equity and opportunity but also bolstering the state's economic competitiveness.

This work builds on previous Ascendium-supported initiatives by WestEd and the Community College Research Center, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and innovation in the realm of ELL education. As Texas leads the charge in reforming pathways for ELLs, we hope that other states and systems follow suit, ensuring that ELLs across the nation have access to the opportunities they need to succeed.

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