Patricia Thomas' Retention Strategies for Adult Learners
Montezuma/Dolores Counties Adult Ed Program


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1.      Description of the Student Population.

The population served by the Unlimited Learning Center/SWBOCS Adult Education Program is primarily made up of three groups.  They are the Native American Population, the Hispanic population, and the Caucasian population.  We are currently serving students from 16-54.  Our current statistics show that the majority (over 50%) of our clients are of poverty level income.  We provide classes for all levels 0 (Beginning ESL) through 12.9+.  

2.      List of positive retention practices that are in place for all students served.

The Positive Retention Practices practiced by the Unlimited Learning Center for Retention are:

·        In-depth student interviews

·        Student Advisors

·        Childcare

·        Count week incentives for attendance.

·        Free Lunches              We will be trying a student store this year.

·        Free Snacks 

·        Incentives – Movie passes, restaurant coupons, gift certificates, recreation center passes, etc.

·        Project-Based Learning

·        GED Fee Scholarships

·        A new facility

·        Recruitment calls and letters

·        Home visitation

·        GED incentives TTA office gives $100.00 to students who sign on with them and then graduate.

·        Gifts and graduation incentives

·        Scholarships to San Juan Basin Technical School; Regional Energy Training Center and area colleges.

·        Help in filling out FASFA’s

3.      The student population that I work with primarily is our PPOR count.  These are the students between 17 and 21 for whom we collect funds for educating.  I occasionally work with older students.  This population is considered At Risk, High Risk, relative to substance abuse, anger management issues, and psychological issues.   The average SPL for these students ranges between 2.5 and 7.9 for Math and 3.0 and 9.0 for Reading.  (Stats were averaged over the last 4 years) 

a.       We will be using incentives of items ordered through NAEIR catalogues.  The students will receive scripts (tickets for level increase) and they may be used to collect items from the incentive store.  As is in most business situations, incentives and bonuses are used to increase learning and participation.

  b.      We will be using 2 hour slots for students.  We have found that the productivity falls off after two hours of class.  The average attention span for an adult is less than 15 minutes.  The students are looking forward to a high speed, concentrated class of shorter duration.  This appeal is aimed at targeting the students who need more time to work for financial support. 

c.       We will use co-enrollment in our area Vo-Tech College for exceptional students.  This makes it possible for a student to achieve an Associate Degree while working on the GED.  Life-long learning must be facilitated to meet the time allocations for students who are starting from behind.  These students will be able to make up for time spent less wisely.  Ann Miller and staff

d.      We will process the enrollees in a timely and efficient manner by setting up the “Assembly-line” process of enrollment.  Students who a working face a time dilemma, every hour away from work means less money for the family or for self-sufficiency.   Ann Miller and staff 

e.       We have pared down the paperwork for students enrolling at our Center.  The paper work can be overwhelming for a student to complete.  The aim of the Center is to accommodate students, remove barriers, and complete state required forms at the same time.  Ann Miller and staff.

f.        We are breaking the testing into parts.  The length of testing often overwhelms the students.  This can translate into fear, irritation, or inability of students to enroll.  By breaking the testing sessions into parts the students are allowed breaks during which they can have nourishment and camaraderie with other students. This will in turn help students form bonds.  Ann Miller and staff 

Most of these strategies came from brain-storming sessions with the staff.  If one person made a suggestion, it was followed through and hammered into something workable.     

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CDE Adult Education and Family Literacy, Center for At-Risk Education (CARE)