ABE Program Administrators' Perceptions of the Impact of Selected Federal Policies on Their Practice




Parker, Ursula

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Adult education has historically been called to serve as a means to an end in promoting federal and social policy. As such, adult education seems to be shaped by current trends and national needs. Most recent, are the work-first policies of the 1990s. This qualitative case study explored ABE program administrators' perceptions of the impact of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (Welfare Reform), 1996 and Workforce Investment Act (WIA), 1998 on their practice. This study was limited to the perceptions of ABE program administrators in Texas who receive state and/or federal funds through the Texas Education Agency. Four program administrators with over 20 years of experience in adult basic education with at least IO years of administrative experience in Texas state/federally funded adult basic education programs participated in the study. Data was collected using interviews, observations, and document review to answer the following research questions: How do ABE program administrators describe the effects of policies developed at the federal level on their practice? What factors shape the implementation of the policies by local ABE program administrators? From the analysis, nine themes emerged: programming through a philosophical lens, nurturing through instructional leadership, navigating the political landscape, advocacy, negotiating a triangulated partnership, marginalized students, shifting curriculum emphasis, strengthening data procedures, and administrative empowerment. The key findings of the study were (1) administrator beliefs about the purposes of ABE influence policy implementation, (2) work-first policies alone are not sufficient to achieve desired outcomes of learner economic self-sufficiency, and (3) required data systems have utility beyond program accountability. Considerations for policy and practice and suggestions for further research are presented.



elementary education of adults, adult education


Parker, U. (2010). ABE program administrators' perceptions of the impact of selected federal policies on their practice (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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