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Adult Education Glossary and Acronym List

ABE, ESOL, SBI, WIOA: Getting to know the world of adult education can sometimes feel like learning a new language! Expand the sections below to find definitions for key terms and explanations of frequently used adult education acronyms.

ABE: Adult Basic Education — Instructional programs that provide basic skills for adults who are performing below the ninth-grade level in reading, writing, mathematics, and other basic skills. Many of these activities include pre-high school equivalency preparatory components or transition from English language acquisition to ABE instructional programs.

AEFLA: Adult Education and Family Literacy ActFederal legislation funding adult education and literacy. AEFLA is authorized as Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and is administered by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U. S. Department of Education. Under AEFLA, Virginia receives funding that is then distributed as grants to individual programs.

ASE: Adult Secondary Education — Instructional programs to serve learners performing between the ninth-grade and twelfth-grade-and-nine-months levels.

ASPD: Adult Student Profile Document — statewide adult education and literacy program student intake form that must be completed by the student at the beginning of each period of participation (PoP) in an adult learning program. The ASPD contains demographic information as well as details relating to a learner's goals, assessment scores, attendance, and outcomes. The information on the ASPD shows a learner's progress through a program and must be updated regularly; ASPD forms contain essential data that must be reported to the state. This page features multilingual videos to help explain the ASPD form to incoming English language learners.

Adult education — Academic instruction and education services below the postsecondary level that increase an individual’s ability to:

  • read, write, and speak English and perform mathematics or other activities necessary for the attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent;
  • transition to postsecondary education and training; and
  • obtain employment.

Adult education and literacy activities — Informally, a synonym for adult education. Formally, a phrase used in the legislation funding many U.S. adult education programs and defined as "programs, activities, and services that include:

  • (a)  adult education;
  • (b)  literacy;
  • (c)  workplace adult education and literacy activities;
  • (d)  family literacy activities;
  • (e)  English language acquisition activities;
  • (f)  integrated English literacy and civics education;
  • (g)  workforce preparation activities; or
  • (h)  integrated education and training."

Adult high school diploma — A diploma awarded to an adult student who completes the course credit requirements in effect for any Board of Education diploma at the time the individual first entered the ninth grade, with the exception of health and physical education course requirements; does not require that the individual pass the Standards of Learning tests if the individual entered ninth grade prior to 2001; also awarded to an adult student who demonstrates full mastery of competencies required in the National External Diploma Program (NEDP).

Asynchronous Not at the same time; used to describe learning that occurs when individuals work at their own pace outside of a "live" class or tutoring session, often online. For more on asynchronous settings and distance education, see VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

BEST Literacy and BEST Plus 2.0: Basic English Skills Test — BEST Literacy (a reading and writing test) and BEST Plus 2.0 (a speaking and listening test) are two approved standardized tests used to assess learner skills and progress and to report program outcome data to the National Reporting System (NRS). BEST assessments are distributed by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). For more information on these assessments and assessment procedures, see Virginia's adult education Assessment Policy.

Blended learning model An instructional approach characterized by “tight integration” of instruction delivered online and instruction that happens in an on-site class. See VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

C&I: Corrections and Institutions — Adult education programs may receive C&I funds to offer standards-based instruction that conforms to the federal purpose and allowable activities of this funding opportunity to support educational services for inmates in correctional institutions and for other institutionalized individuals. These services must give priority to individuals who are likely to leave the institution within five years of participation in the program. C&I programming can be offered at a prison, local or regional jail, reformatory, work farm, detention center, halfway house, community-based rehabilitation center, or any other similar institution.

CAL: Center for Applied Linguistics — A non-profit headquartered in Washington, D.C., CAL's mission is to promote language learning and cultural understanding by serving as a trusted source for research, resources, and policy analysis. CAL distributes the BEST Literacy and BEST Plus 2.0 tests used to assess English language learning.

CASAS: Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems — A nonprofit organization that focuses on assessment and curriculum development. CASAS oversees the National External Diploma Program (NEDP) and the CASAS standardized tests used to assess learners' reading, math, and listening skills. For more information on CASAS assessment procedures, see Virginia's adult education Assessment Policy.

CBLOs: Community-based Literacy Organizations — These local, private, not-for-profit organizations provide literacy instruction, often using volunteer tutors who often work one-on- one with learners. CBLOs may also provide classroom instruction and other services for English language learners and adults developing foundational skills.

CCR Observation Tools: College and Career Readiness Observation Tools The CCR Observation Tools provide concrete examples of what college and career readiness (CCR) standards, which include the ELPS, look like in daily planning and practice. They are tool for instructors, those who support instructors, and others working to implement standards-based instruction. 

CCRS: College and Career Readiness Standards — The College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCRS) are Virginia's state-adopted instructional standards; they address reading and reading foundations; writing; speaking and listening; language; and, mathematics, including eight Standards of Mathematical Practice. Virginia's publicly funded adult education programs are required to offer standards-based instruction that demonstrates College and Career Readiness key advances and meets the expectations set by the core actions of the CCR Observation Tools. VALRC's Standards-based Instruction page provides resources to help educators understand and apply the CCRS.

COABE: Commission on Adult Basic Education A professional organization that works to advance national and international adult education and literacy opportunities for all persons. Conferences, a professional journal, and webinars are among the resources COABE offers to teachers of adults, aiming “to inspire educators so adults succeed and communities thrive.”

CTE: Career and Technical Education Valuable information can be found at Virginia's CTE Resource Center (though the center primarily serves K12 programs).

CTI: Classroom Technology Integration — An instructional approach that uses technology tools to support learning in the classroom. See VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

Canvas — Learning Management System (LMS). VALRC facilitated online courses and self-paced tutorials for educators are offered through this system, and some adult education programs and postsecondary institutions use the Canvas platform for class enrollment, support, and delivery.

Career pathway Informally, a plan with steps, jobs, trainings, and skills that helps an individual achieve progress toward career goals and earn a family sustaining-wage. Formally, a career pathways are defined in funding legislation as: " A combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and other services that:

  • aligns with the skill needs of industries in the economy of the state or regional economy involved;
  • prepares an individual to be successful in any of a full range of secondary or postsecondary education options, including apprenticeships registered under the Act of August 16, 1937, (commonly known as the “National Apprenticeship Act;” 50 Stat. 664, chapter 663; 29 U.S.C. 50 et seq.) ... ;
  • includes counseling to support an individual in achieving the individual’s education and career goals;
  • includes, as appropriate, education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster;
  • organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual to the extent practicable;
  • enables an individual to attain a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and at least one recognized postsecondary credential; and
  • helps an individual enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster."

Civics education — Instruction on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and civic participation.

Combined state plan — Each state receiving WIOA funding must create a four-year unified or combined plan for core programs that outlines how services will be provided and expanded, particularly for eligible individuals with barriers, and how the local board will facilitate co-enrollment of participants across core programs within a seamless workforce system. Adult education is one of the core programs included in Virginia's combined state plan.

Concurrent — At the same time (simultaneously, not sequentially); usually refers to foundational adult education offered alongside vocational or career in Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs. 

Contextualized instruction — Instruction in which academic and foundational skills are integrated with knowledge and skills related to a specific subject area or environment. This often refers to literacy skills taught in the context of vocational skills (in the case of Integrated Education and Training or IET programs, skills related to a specific target industry). Contextualized instruction encompasses many types of adult learning: for example, language skills taught in the context of civics or everyday life skills, math skills taught in the context of personal budgeting and financial literacy, reading and writing integrated with digital resilience skills, and many other possibilities. Contextualized instruction helps engage adult learners with relevant content and accelerate their progress toward learning goals. 

Correctional education — Education provided to justice-involved individuals in jails, penitentiaries, and other institutions. In Virginia, the Departmentment of Corrections (DOC) employs educators who work with learners in state prisons and penitentiaries; the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) employs educators who work with justice-involved youth. Adult education programs often serve learners at local jails and may serve other justice-involved individuals.   

Correctional institution — A prison, local or regional jail, reformatory, work farm, detention center, halfway house, community-based rehabilitation center, or any other similar institution.

DARS: Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services State agency that works to improve the employment, quality of life, security, and independence of older Virginians, Virginians with disabilities, and their families. Under WIOA, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) is a partner with adult education in the workforce development system.

DE: Distance Education —According to the National Reporting System (NRS) Technical Assistance Guide for Performance Accountability, distance education is any “formal learning activity where students and instructors are separated by geography, time, or both for the majority of the instructional period” (p. 48). For more information, see VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

DJJ: Department of Juvenile Justice — The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) works with justice-involved youth, including by providing them with quality education, treatment and rehabilitation, and reentry supports. DJJ operates and is responsible for the vast majority of local  juvenile probation offices across the state, as well as Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center.

DL: Distance Learning Often used interchangeably with "distance education"; however, the term is also used to refer specifically to what the learner is doing, i.e., the learner’s perspective of studying outside a classroom. See VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

DOC: Department of Corrections — State agency that operate secure facilities and probation and parole offices to provide care and supervision for individuals under state custody. DOC offers adult education programs in many of the facilities it oversees.

DOE: Department of Education — The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) oversees grant awards and financial and outcome reporting for funded adult education and literacy programs, which include 22 regional programs across the state as well as English literacy and civics education programs in areas with large populations of English language learners.

DOL: Department of Labor — Government agency that oversees labor laws and promotes the safety and well-being of wage earners. The Virginia Department of Labor is known as DOLI, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

DOLI: Department of Labor and Industry — The mission of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry is to make Virginia a better place in which to work, live, and conduct business. DOLI works to achieve this goal by promoting safe, healthful workplaces; best employment practices; job training opportunities through registered apprenticeship; the protection of children from hazardous employment; and safe operation of boiler and pressure vessels.

DRC: Data Recognition Corporation – A business that distributes the TABE tests used to assess learners' reading, math, and language skills.

DSS: Department of Social Services — The Virginia Department of Social Services works to promote the well-being of children and families statewide, helping ensure that thousands of Virginia's most vulnerable citizens have access to the best services and benefits available to them. DSS oversees programs including the Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare – Employment Advancement for TANF Participants; SNAP Employment and Training; and the Virginia Refugee Resettlement Program.

Demonstrated effectiveness — To be eligible for AEFLA funding, a service provider (such as an adult education program) must demonstrate past effectiveness by providing performance data on its record of improving the skills of eligible individuals. For more information, see the funding and guidance resources on the Virginia Department of Education website.

Digital literacy and use of technology — Skills associated with using technology to enable users to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information. Technology should be used to enhance teaching and learning, including the use of effective distance education technology and instructional software.

Direct instruction Face-to-face instruction; or, hours of instruction that the student receives in person from a programs, such as classroom instruction, being tutored by an instructor before or after class, or taking an assessment. For more on classifying and reporting learner participation hours, see VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

Director's Memo — An official communication from the Director of the VDOE Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to regional program managers and IELCE program managers. These are archived on the Adult Education Resource webpage

ELA: English Language Acquisition The process of learning to understand the English language and communicate in English. As defined in legislation, an English Language Acquisition (ELA) program is "a program of instruction that is designed to help eligible individuals who are English language learners achieve competence in reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension of the English language; and that leads to the attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent; and transition to postsecondary education and training; or employment."

ELA: English Language Arts/Literacy – English language arts/literacy encompasses reading, writing, speaking and listening, and English language grammar, mechanics, and usage. For more about the ELA standards in the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education, see VALRC's Standards-based Instruction page.

EFLs: Educational Functioning Levels A leveled sets of skills skills and competencies that adult education learners demonstrate by taking standardized assessments that are reported to the National Reporting System (NRS). 

The NRS divides literacy instruction into six levels each for adult basic education (ABE, which under NRS includes adult secondary education) and English as a second language (ESL). Each ABE literacy level has a description of basic reading, writing, numeracy, and functional and workplace skills that can be expected from a person functioning at each level. The ESL literacy levels describe speaking and listening skills and basic reading, writing, and functional workplace skills that can be expected from a person functioning at each level. Test scores for pre- and post-testing are tied to the NRS EFLs for initial placement and for reporting advancement across levels. For specific information about descriptors for each EFL, see Exhibit 2.2: Functioning Level Table in “NRS Technical Assistance Guidance for Performance Accountability under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” (March 2021).

ELL: English Language Learner Someone working to develop or improve English language skills. As defined by AEFLA, an ELL is "an eligible individual who has limited ability in reading, writing, speaking, or comprehending the English language, and

  • whose native language is a language other than English; or
  • who lives in a family or community environment where a language other than English is the dominant language."

ELPS: English Language Proficiency Standards (for adult education): Standards intended to address the urgent need for educational equity, access, and rigor for adult English language learners. The ELPS are divided into two sections:  Standards 1–7 and Standards 8–10. Standards 1–7 highlight the language skills required for ELLs to engage in content-specific practices necessary for their full engagement in English language arts and literacy, mathematics, and science. Standards 8–10 highlight the linguistic skills needed to support Standards 1–7. For federally-funded adult education programs, it is required to align instruction and materials with the ELPS.

ESOL: English for Speakers of Other Languages This term refers to programs for adults learning the English language. It is used interchangeably with ESL or English Language Acquisition (ELA). ESOL learners may also be referred to as ELLs or multilingual learners.

ESL: English as a Second Language — Instruction designed for an adult whose educational functioning level is equivalent to a particular ESL English language proficiency level listed in the NRS educational functioning level table. (The acronym ESL is used for NRS educational functioning levels; learners assessed at these levels are typically enrolled in English language acquisition programs.) ESL may be used interchangeable with ESOL, although the latter term better acknowledges that many English language learners are already proficient in more than one language. ESL learners may also be referred to as ELLs or multilingual learners.

Eligible individual Someone who may be served by a publicly funded adult education program: a learner—

  • who has attained 16 years of age, is not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law; and
  • who is building foundational skillsbasic skills deficient, seekingdoes not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and has not achieved an equivalent level of education; or is an English language learner.

Eligible provider — An organization that qualifies to apply for public adult education funding. Eligible providers must demonstrate effectiveness in providing adult education and literacy activities to be eligible to apply for a grant or contract. Types of eligible provide may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • (a)  local educational agency;
  • (b)  community-based organization or faith-based organization;
  • (c)  volunteer literacy organization;
  • (d)  institution of higher education;
  • (e)  public or private nonprofit agency;
  • (f)  library;
  • (g)  public housing authority;
  • (h)  nonprofit institution that is not described in (a) through (g) and has the ability to provide adult education and literacy activities to eligible individuals;
  • (i)  consortium or coalition of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries, or authorities described in (a) through (h); and
  • (j)  partnership between an employer and an entity described in (a) through (i).

Family literacy A multigenerational approach to learning in which both parents or guardians and their children receive education services. For a formal definition of family literacy activities that can be funded under AEFLA legislation, see "family literacy activities" below.

Family literacy activities Activities of sufficient intensity and quality to make sustainable improvements in the economic prospects for a family and that better enable parents or family members to support their children’s learning needs, and that integrate all of the following activities:

  •   parent or family adult education and literacy activities that lead to readiness for postsecondary education or training, career advancement, and economic self- sufficiency;
  •   interactive literacy activities between parents or family members and their children;
  •   training for parents or family members regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children; and
  •   an age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.

Foundational Skills Term that describes the secondary and pre-secondary skills that are taught in adult education programs (considered less stigmatizing than the term "basic skills"). As defined by David Rosen in the Adult Literacy Education journal, foundational skills are "core skills and knowledge that adults need for work, further education, helping their families, functioning effectively in their communities, and as citizens in a democracy. It includes:

  • English language skills for immigrants and refugees (ESL/ESOL);
  • Beginning literacy for adults who cannot read and write well, or at all;
  • Numeracy;
  • Adult basic education;
  • Adult secondary education leading to an adult high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate;
  • U.S. citizenship preparation;
  • Preparation for post-secondary education, and occupational training, or apprenticeships;
  • Employability skills/Work readiness skills;
  • Family/intergenerational literacy;
  • Integrated education and training; and,
  • Other foundational education and skills that are needed throughout the adult life span but are not necessarily related to work or career, such as digital literacy, financial literacy, health literacy, native language literacy, and literacy for self-advocacy, civic engagement, and social justice.

Adult foundational education may be offered by community-based programs, public schools, community colleges, volunteer tutoring programs, public libraries, corrections institutions, adult public charter schools, employers, labor unions, faith-based organizations and other kinds of organizations and institutions."

GAE: General Adult Education State funds that support adult education and literacy instruction, including ABE, GED® preparation, ESOL, and adult diploma programs.

GEDTS: GED Testing Service The organization that develops and oversees the administration of the GED® test. GED Testing Service is a joint venture of the American Council on Education and education company Pearson.

GED Ready™ GED Ready™ is the official practice test for the 2014 GED® test. It was developed by the publisher who created the complete GED® test, but it’s only half the length of the actual test. GED Ready™ provides all students with a personal study plan based on their performance on the practice test. This tool can be used to study at home or retrieved from the student’s GED® Account while in class.

GED® test The GED® test is developed to allow adults who did not finish high school to demonstrate the attainment of abilities normally associated with completion of a high school program of study. Adults must pass a battery of four tests to earn a GED® certificate: Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA); Mathematical Reasoning; Science; and Social Studies. Significant changes to the GED® test’s format were instituted in January 2014, including a computer-based delivery system. Currently, this is the only high school equivalency test approved for administration in Virginia. See the GED website for more information.

HSE: High School Equivalency  An option for students who did not graduate from high school to demonstrate the knowledge and skills which would have been acquired in the high school curriculum. An individual can earn their HSE by passing an approved HSE assessment (usually the GED® test; passers earn earn an equivalency credential that, in Virginia, is called a certificate). HSE is also used an umbrella term including other secondary options available to adult learners, such as the National External Diploma Program (NEDP).

Hybrid learning model An instructional approach that utilizes both an online curriculum product and in-class teaching. For more details, see VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

IELCE: Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education Instruction that that supports multilingual learners in acquiring and developing English language proficiency as well as building the civics knowledge and skills to support full participation in American life. IELCE services that are supported by the Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFLA) can be funded by Section 231 or Section 241 of the law (see below); depending on funding, there may be additional required components to IELCE instruction. See the IET Resources in Virginia's IET Blueprint for more information. 

IELCE Activities: Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education Activities  Education services provided to English language learners under AEFLA section 231 who are adults, including professionals with degrees and credentials in their native countries that enable such adults to achieve competency in the English language and acquire the basic and more advanced skills needed to function effectively as parents, workers, and citizens in the United States.

Such services shall include:

  1. instruction in literacy and English language acquisition,
  2. instruction on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and civic participation, and
  3. may include workforce training.

IELCE Program: Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education Program Education services for English language learners under AEFLA section 243 who are adults, including professionals with degrees and credentials in their native countries, that enable such adults to achieve competency in the English language and acquire the basic and more advanced skills needed to function effectively as parents, workers, and citizens in the United States. Programs are designed to

  1. prepare adults who are English language learners for, and place such adults in, unsubsidized employment in in-demand industries and occupations that lead to economic self-sufficiency; and
  2. integrate with the local workforce development system and its functions to carry out the activities of the program.

Such services shall include instruction in

  1. literacy and English language acquisition,
  2. instruction on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and civic participation, and
  3. must include Integrated Education and Training (IET).

See the IET Resources in Virginia's IET Blueprint for more information. 

IET: Integrated Education and Training A service approach that provides adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement. An IET program must include three components:

  • adult education and literacy activities,
  • workforce preparation activities, and
  • workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster.

As a part of a career pathway, the design of an IET program should support local workforce development board plans. For more detailed guidance on designing and administering IET programs, see the Virginia IET Blueprint and the funding and guidance resources on the Virginia Department of Education website.

ISAEP: Individual Student Alternative Education Plan Students who are at least 16 years old may fulfill their compulsory attendance requirements for school via alternative means if they are granted an ISAEP. The plan must include vocational and high school equivalency studies, counseling, personal economics and finance, and procedures for re-enrollment into the regular school program.

Incumbent worker An individual who has an established employment history with the employer for six months or more.

Incumbent worker training Training by an employer or a training provider in close partnership with an employer that is provided to a paid participant while engaged in productive work in a job that:

  • provides the knowledge or skills essential to the full and adequate performance of the occupation;
  • provides reimbursement to the employer for the costs of providing the training and additional supervision related to the training;
  • is limited in duration as appropriate to the occupation for which the participant is being trained;
  • is intended to meet the requirements of an employer or group of employers to retain a skilled workforce or avert layoffs of employees by assisting the workers in obtaining the skills necessary to retain employment.

LINCS: Literacy Information & Communication System LINCS is a leadership initiative of the U.S. Department of Education to expand evidence-based practice in the field of adult education. It offers free professional development with experts and fellow practitioners from across, including online discussion groups,  courseswebinars and special events, and a resource bank.

LMS: Learning Management System Software that supports the tracking and delivery of instruction, especially online instruction; an LMS may also manage enrollment, participation, and assessment records. Canvas is the LMS used by the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center to offer facilitated and self-paced courses to Virginia adult educators. 

LWDB: Local Workforce Development Board Local Workforce Development Boards are government-appointed local boards that work align employment and training programs into a comprehensive system. Under WIOA, local Workforce Development Boards are required to articulate a vision for the local area’s workforce development system and create a local plan that is both focused on the unique economic needs and resources of the local area and aligned to state strategic plans. Local Workforce Development Boards review the competitive adult education grants to ensure that they are aligned to the LWDB local plan.

Learner mastery model Refers to a method of recording certain types of distance learning. See VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage for more information.

Literacy An individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English, and to compute and solve problems, at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual, and in society.

MOU: Memorandum of Understanding Official document used to develop partnerships between and among state agencies and between and among local agencies to maximize resources and services for adult learners, including linkages to support the WIOA one-stop system.

MSG: Measurable Skills Gain A measure of learner progress, usually achieved by improving a score on a standardized assessment. Learner data including measurable skill gains are reported to the National Reporting System (NRS) in an effort to ensure publicly funded programs are effectively meeting the needs of those they serve; all agencies that receive WIOA funding must report measurable skill gain.  An adult education participant generally achieves a measurable skill gain by increasing an educational functioning level (EFL) according to an approved standardized test or by attaining a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent. For more information on the five types of MSGs, some of which apply only to workplace literacy and IET programs, see Director’s Memo #039-21 

Maintenance of effort  A requirement in federal funding that ensures state and local programs provide a consistent level of matching funds year to year.

Multilingual learner An individual who is working to develop English language proficiency and who is proficient in one or more other languages. This term is often used synonymously with English language learner (ELL) or ESL/ESOL learner. The term multilingual learner acknowledges that many adult English language learners have already developed fluency in one or more languages.

NEDP: National External Diploma Program The National External Diploma Program, which leads to an adult high school diploma, is an applied performance assessment system that assesses the high school level skills of adults. Administered by Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS), the NEDP evaluates the reading, writing, math, and workforce readiness skills of participants in life and work contexts. The program is self-paced, flexible, and has no timed tests. The program is for self-directed adult students who are comfortable working independently. Participation in local and regional external diploma programs is available to adults who are 18 years of age and older who did not complete high school and are not enrolled in public education. An adult high school diploma, recognized by the Virginia Board of Education, is awarded to an adult student who demonstrates through applied performance 100 percent mastery of the NEDP Generalized Competencies. The NEDP program is an adult education option in many (though not all) Virginia localities.

NRS: National Reporting System  The National Reporting System (NRS) is the accountability system for the federally funded, state-administered adult education program. Programs funded under WIOA legislation must report information to the NRS including enrollment and participation data as well as learner assessment and outcome data.

Numeracy — Often used interchangeably with "mathematics," although “numeracy” tends to be used when the focus is on applying math and mathematical thinking in everyday life situations. Both mathematics and numeracy require knowledge and skill with math procedures as well as critical thinking, problem solving, and quantitative reasoning.

OMEGA: Online Management of Education Grant Awards Virginia Department of Education's automated reimbursement system is required to be used by most VDOE- funded adult education programs for financial management of adult education grants.

One-stop system System identified in WIOA for the delivery of services by mandated partners, including adult education, in which agencies in a local area coordinate service delivery to clients. One-stops are intended to make it easier for individuals to access multiple government services, such as adult education, workforce training and dislocated worker services, veteran and youth services, social services, and housing services.

PD: Professional Development Training or other continuing education pursued after entering the workforce. PD can include workshops and courses, formal courses of study and certification programs, self-directed study and practitioner research, participation in professional learning communities (PLCs), involvement in professional organizations, formal and informal coaching and mentoring, and more. The Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center (VALRC) offers free PD to Virginia adult educators, and many adult education programs offer their own in-service PD events with local educators and experts. PD helps educators advance their skills to better meet the needs of diverse learners; learn about new research, approaches, policies, and technologies; and share knowledge with colleagues.

PIVA: PluggedInVA  PluggedInVA is a career pathways program that provides motivated adult learners with a contextualized high school equivalency (HSE) curriculum integrated with industry-specific technical training as a means to develop essential workplace skills for entry-level jobs in targeted industries. Central to the PluggedInVA curriculum is the development of digital literacy skills, strong academic and literacy skills, and workforce readiness skills to prepare learners for employment in a variety of industries as they complete an HSE credential, if needed, and earn industry-recognized and stackable credentials. Virginia's PluggedInVA model was at the forefront in the movement to increase integrated education and training (IET) opportunities for adult learners and is the foundation for Virginia's current IET Blueprint

PLC: Professional Learning Community  Professional learning communities (PLCs) bring educators together for regular, collaborative meetings over an extended period of time (usually a few months or a year) in order to address a problem, plan, and/or improve their craft. PLCs leverage existing professional wisdom among participating educators; examine additional, external knowledge sources (such as information on evidence-based practices, examples of student work, or student assessment data); and involve practical implementation efforts by group members during the course of the PLC. When adult education instructors and staff members are planning and learning together to address local and regional issues, their participation may be categorized as a PLC for budgeting purposes (see Director’s Memo #003-17). 

PoP: Period of Participation A term related to how programs report learner attendance data to the National Reporting System (NRS). When an individual enrolls in adult education, accumulates 12 or more contact hours, and then exits the program, he or she has completed a PoP. Multiple PoPs may occur during the same program year as a result of subsequent enrollments and exits; if the participant does not exit, the PoP remains ongoing. For more information, see the Data, Monitoring, & Evaluation guidance from the Virginia Department of Education.

Postsecondary educational institution An institution of higher education that provides not less than a two-year program of instruction that is acceptable for credit toward a bachelor’s degree; a tribally controlled college or university; or a nonprofit educational institution offering certificate or apprenticeship programs at the postsecondary level.

RFI: Remote Face-to-Face Instruction An instructional approach based on videoconferencing. See VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

RLA: Reasoning through Language Arts One of the four subject tests that make up the GED® high school equivalency test, the RLA test assesses reading for meaning, identifying and creating arguments, and grammar and language skills..

SBI: Standards-based Instruction A general term for teaching that aligns with standards. Virginia's state-adopted standards are the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCRS), supported by the English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education (ELPS)

Delivering standards-based instruction is not about checking skills off a list but about facilitating challenging and rewarding learning experiences for students. With the CCRS and ELPS, academic skills work in tandem with critical thinking, teamwork, and other workforce preparation skills. Virginia's publicly funded adult education programs are required to offer standards-based instruction that demonstrates College and Career Readiness key advances and meets the expectations set by the core actions of the CCR Observation Tools. VALRC's Standards-based Instruction page provides resources to help educators understand the CCRS and ELPS and apply them in their daily planning and practice.

SEL: Social-emotional Learning Incorporating social-emotional learning into instruction can increase learner engagement, well-being, and outcomes. Social and emotional learning encompasses self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.

SLCA: State Leadership Coordinating Funds The fiscal agency of an approved regional AEFLA provider receives these state funds to assist with the costs of administering adult education and literacy programs.

SMART Objectives The SMART mnemonic assists in developing objectives and goals that can be successfully and verifiably met. SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. 

Superintendent's memo Official communication from the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction to local division superintendents regarding critical issues. Released weekly on Fridays on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) website, these memos sometimes contain essential information about adult education funding opportunities and policies.

Supplemental model An approach in which additional, optional online or distance learning takes place outside of class time. See VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

Synchronous Happening at the same time; used to describe learning environments such an on-site class or training, live videoconference, or coaching session. For information on synchronous distance education (including reporting guidance), see VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

TABE: Tests of Adult Basic Education TABE 11/12 reading, mathematics, and language tests are approved standardized assessments used to determine learner skills and progress and to report program outcome data to the National Reporting System (NRS). TABE assessments and training are available from Data Recognition Corporation (DRC). For more information on TABE and assessment procedures, see Virginia's adult education Assessment Policy.

TESOL: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Language TESOL is a professional organization for teachers of English as a second or foreign language. For more information, resources, and opportunities, visit the national or state (VATESOL) organization websites. 

TSTM: Teaching the Skills that Matter — TSTM, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education, integrates workforce readiness skills, college and career readiness standards, engaging instructional approaches, and content areas that are relevant to adult learners: civics education, digital literacy, financial literacy, health literacy, and workforce preparation. The free online TSTM Toolkit includes more than 20 classroom-ready exemplar lessons (most targeted at intermediate learners but adaptable to other levels) as well as planning tools, annotated resource lists, informative research briefs, and classroom videos.

Teacher verification model Refers to a method of recording certain types of distance learning. See VALRC's Distance Education Tips webpage.

UDL: Universal Design for Learning   A framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. UDL guidelines, developed by education nonprofit CAST, identify three key principles: providing multiple means of engagement, providing multiple means of representation, and providing multiple means of action and expression. 

Unsubsidized employment — Unsubsidized employment is work with earnings provided by an employer who does not receive a subsidy for the creation and maintenance of the employment position.

VAACE: Virginia Association for Adult and Continuing Education  VAACE is the professional association for Virginia’s adult and continuing education practitioners and administrators. Its mission focuses on “working to improve the practice of adult education, enhance the status of our profession, and advocate for lifelong learning and the adult learner.” 

VAELN: Virginia Adult Education and Literacy Network VAELN is a state-wide listserv administered the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center that emails information related to professional development, grants, and news that support the field of adult education. The listserv is also known as the VALRC listserv. Educators can subscribe to the list by scrolling to the bottom of any page on the VALRC website and adding an email under “Connect with Us”; they can message the list by emailing VAELN at lists.vcu.edu.

VALRC: Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center  VALRC is funded by the Virginia Department of Education to provide adult education and literacy resources, publications, and training for Virginia adult education teachers and administrators. 

VATESOL: Virginia Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages VATESOL is the Virginia chapter of TESOL, a professional organization for teachers of English language learners.

VCCS: Virginia Community College System VCCS oversees a network of 23 Virginia community colleges, which offer academic and workforce programs. Under WIOA legislation, VCCS is a partner and frequent collaborator with adult education in the workforce development system, and some regional adult education programs are part of their local community college.

VEC: Virginia Employment Commission The VEC offers career assistance for job seekers, employment services for veterans, and employer services for businesses of all sizes, as well as unemployment benefits and other programs designed to assist with employment. Under WIOA legislation, the VEC is a partner with adult education in the workforce development system.

VDOE: Virginia Department of Education The Virginia Department of Education supports adult education and literacy primarily by funding and supporting programs at the local level. VDOE staff oversee grant awards and financial and outcome reporting for funded programs, which include 22 regional programs across the state as well as English literacy and civics education programs in areas with large populations of English language learners.
 
VLF: Virginia Literacy Foundation  This foundation was established in 1986 to provide funding and other support for private, community-based literacy organizations in Virginia.
 
VVA: Virtual VirginiaVirtual Virginia is a program of the Virginia Department of Education that provides flexible digital education opportunities to students and educators throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. While Virtual Virginia mostly works to support K12 education, the VDOE funded Virtual Virginia to create a collection online courses suitable for adult learners that can be delivered via Canvas by regional and local adult education programs.
 
Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services  State agency that works to improve the employment, quality of life, security, and independence of older Virginians, Virginians with disabilities, and their families. Under WIOA, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) is a partner with adult education in the workforce development system.

WDB: Workforce Development Board —  A government-appointed boards that work align employment and training programs into a comprehensive system. Under WIOA, local Workforce Development Boards are required to articulate a vision for the local area’s workforce development system and create a local plan that is both focused on the unique economic needs and resources of the local area and aligned to state strategic plans. Local Workforce Development Boards review the competitive adult education grants to ensure that they are aligned to the LWDB local plan.

WIOA: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Legislation that provides federal funding for adult education and other services. WIOA was signed into law (Pub. L. 113-128) on July 22, 2014, and reauthorizes the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) with several major revisions.

Workplace adult education and literacy activities Adult education and literacy activities offered by an eligible provider in collaboration with an employer or employee organization at a workplace or an off-site location that are designed to improve the productivity of the workforce.

Workforce preparation activities  Activities, programs, or services designed to help an individual acquire a combination of basic academic skills, critical-thinking skills, digital literacy skills, and self-management skills, including competencies in utilizing resources, using information, working with others, understanding systems, and obtaining skills necessary for successful transition into and completion of postsecondary education or training, or employment; and other employability skills that increase an individual’s preparation for the workplace.

Workforce training These services may include:

  1. occupational skills training, including training for nontraditional employment;
  2. on-the-job training;
  3. incumbent worker training (see definition);
  4. programs that combine workplace training with related instruction, which may include cooperative education programs;
  5. training programs operated by the private sector;
  6. skill upgrading and retraining;
  7. entrepreneurial training;
  8. transitional jobs;
  9. job readiness training provided in combination with services described in any of the items 1-8 above;
  10. adult education and literacy activities, including activities of English language acquisition and integrated education and training programs, provided concurrently or in combination with services described in 1-7 above; and
  11. customized training conducted with a commitment by an employer or group of employers to employ an individual upon successful completion of the training.