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4 Essential Adult Education Acronyms to Know

Oct 26, 2023
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Every industry has its buzzwords, and the world of adult education is no exception, especially when it comes to acronyms. Is your head swimming in an alphabet soup of this year’s trending abbreviations? Let us help! We’ve compiled this guide to four of the most common adult education acronyms: OCTAE, WIOA, CCRS, and CBL. Read on to learn what each of these refers to – and impress your colleagues at the next staff meeting!


Key Adult Education Acronyms You Need to Know


There are more potential adult education acronyms than we could possibly list at once, but those below are some of the most significant ones to be aware of as you navigate the field.


1. OCTAE – Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education


The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) is a branch of the Federal Department of Education. 


The OCTAE focuses specifically on administering and improving adult education programs. Its work is centered around three main initiatives: 


1. Improving adult literacy and basic skills programs,


2. Establishing rigorous Career and Technical Education (CTE) initiatives and 


3. Strengthening the role of community colleges as providers of high-quality post-secondary training options. 



To fulfill these objectives, the OCTAE is responsible for administering the Adult Education Formula grant program and Perkins CTE grants. They also provide assistance to states to improve adult education and CTE program quality and accountability. Finally, the OCTAE builds public support and awareness for community college programs and develops effective strategies to ensure enrolled students complete them. 


To learn more about the scope of the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education’s work, check out their page on the U.S. DOE website.  


2. WIOA – Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act


The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) was implemented to achieve greater alignment between education programs, workforce development agencies, and employers. WIOA looks to facilitate workforce investment activities, largely through actively engaging private sector employers in workforce development and training efforts. 

These programs help ensure adult learners receive the training they need to receive recognized credentials and earn livable wages. At the same time, employers benefit from an overall improvement in workforce quality and increased access to the skilled employees necessary to compete in the global market. 

For more information on the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, take a look at this overview published by the National Association of Workforce Boards.


3. CCRS – College and Career Readiness Standards


The College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) is a project initiated by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) to improve the quality of adult education and literacy programs in the U.S. 


The CCRS were developed using Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as a basis. Their purpose is to help adult education programs develop and implement effective curriculum frameworks. 


The CCRS are divided into two categories: one for English language arts and literacy and one for mathematics. Similar to the CCSS, the CCRS put a focus on reading texts of increasing complexity across subject areas. They also aim to prepare learners for career pathways in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. 


Ultimately, these standards should ensure adult learners develop the specific skills and knowledge they need to be successful in post-secondary education and careers. 

Check out this report from the U.S. Department of Education and OVAE for detailed information on the College and Career Readiness Standards and their development.


4. CBL – Competency-Based Learning


Competency-based learning (CBL) is the idea that instead of moving students along in their educational careers based on seat time, they should progress based on demonstrated mastery of content and skills. This makes for a flexible and personalized system well suited to adult learners' varied backgrounds, interests, and logistical situations. 


By focusing on allowing students to move at their own pace, CBL models help everyone save time and money. They also help learners make better use of technology. In addition, the high degree of personalization in CBL models helps increase student engagement, opens new pathways to graduation, and takes advantage of learning opportunities available outside of the academic environment. 

Take a look at this issue brief from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) for details on competency-based learning.

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