Adult Education Grants

There are three programs that represent the largest 2011 federal funding "buckets" for adult education programs:

  • Perkins Career and Technical Education State Grants (vocational and technical education) – $1.2 billion
  • Adult Education Basic and Family Literacy Grants to States (workplace and family literacy services) – $521 million
  • Workforce Investment Act (literacy/basic skills education, English acquisition, and job training) – $860 million

Perkins Career and Technical Education State Grants

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) administers the Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006. The program provides states with funding for administration of a state plan for vocational and technical education and subgrants awarded to eligible recipients to improve vocational and technical education programs. Federal funds are made available to more fully develop the academic, vocational, and technical skills of secondary and postsecondary students who enroll in vocational and technical programs.

Grant recipients must develop a plan to improve the academic and technical skills of students participating in career and technical education programs by strengthening the academic, career, and technical education components of such programs. This is to be done through integrating coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant career and technical education programs to ensure learning. Other funding requirements include an assessment of how the needs of special populations, including English learners, are being met and providing professional development programs to teachers, counselors, and administrators.

The Perkins Act is scheduled for reauthorization by Congress in 2013. ED plans to work with Congress to strengthen the program and improve its alignment with the education reform efforts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA reauthorization is currently before Congress. Both the Senate and the House have proposed changes to ESEA.

Adult Basic Education and Family Literacy Grants

This OVAE program provides grants to states to fund local programs of adult basic education and literacy services, including workplace literacy services, family literacy services, English literacy programs, and program evaluation. Participation in these programs is limited to adults and out-of-school youths age 16 and older who are not enrolled, or are required to enroll, in secondary schools under state law. The programs provide instruction in reading, numeracy, GED® test preparation, and English literacy. More than 2.4 million adults participate in programs annually.

The OVAE provides grants to eligible state agencies, which in turn, fund local projects. The following types of entities are eligible to apply to states for funds: local educational agencies (LEAs), community-based organizations; volunteer literacy organizations; institutions of higher education (IHEs); public or private nonprofit agencies; libraries; public housing authorities; other nonprofit institutions that have the ability to provide literacy services to adults and families; and consortia of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries, or authorities previously described.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

The WIA, administered by both OVAE and the U.S. Department of Labor, serves over six million adults with core (basic) instruction, intensive instruction, and/or training services.

Like funding for adult basic education programs, funding for WIA is allocated to states on a formula basis, based on the number of adults over the age of 16 who have not completed high school. The funds are then subgranted to eligible institutions, including LEAs, community-based organizations, volunteer literacy organizations, institutions of higher education, libraries, public housing authorities, career centers, the military, and correctional institutions.

Evidence of Effectiveness

In this time of budget crises and reduced funding for education, it is critical in federally funded programs to use assessment and instructional programs that have been proven to work. ED refers to this as "evidence of effectiveness" and many grant programs from the federal government require evidence of effectiveness and improvement in program evaluations. As an example, the CTB Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE®) and the TABE Complete Language Assessment System–English™ (TABE CLAS–E™), received the coveted 7-year National Reporting System (NRS) approval until 2016. The TABE suite includes:

  • TABE 9&10: Assesses basic skills in reading, mathematics, language, vocabulary, language mechanics, and spelling and provides a strong understanding of adult students' and trainees' basic skills
  • TABE CLAS–E: Accurately and reliably evaluates the language proficiency and instructional needs of adult English language learners
  • TABE Online: Quickly assesses skills for training and employment, determines readiness to take the GED, and saves time and resources administering, scoring, and analyzing TABE 9&10 over the Internet
  • TABE Adapative: More effectively screens and places students in training and employment programs and determines readiness to take the GED test
  • TABE Advanced-Level Test: Assesses the readiness of students for GED testing in upper-level subjects
  • TABE Español (Spanish-language assessment): Assesses basic reading, mathematics, and language skills using content and language appropriate for adults
  • TABE Professional Development: Additional tools that help teachers link test results and Web-based and on-site courses, which help improve instructor effectiveness

For More Information

Visit to review Perkins and WIA grant templates that demonstrate how solutions within the TABE assessment and instruction suite support federal adult education programs. Learn more about CTB adult education assessment solutions at