CAEL Highlights LASS Academy in New Report
In 2018, 15 postsecondary institutions joined in the three-year Latino Adult Student Success (LASS) Academy to develop and implement targeted strategies that support Latino adult students (and adult learners generally) in their pursuit of postsecondary credentials. The LASS Academy was the inaugural cohort under the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)’s Adult Learner Academy model, an approach that combines data analysis, technical assistance, and peer-to-peer learning to support new action plans and strategies for improving services and programs for important target populations. The data used in the initiative included enrollment, course completion, persistence, and graduation metrics along with surveys of the institutions’ staff and current adult students through CAEL’s Adult Learner 360™ process.
Through the LASS Academy, institutions learned more about the academic prospects of their current Latino adult and adult learner populations, collected and reviewed data on the needs of these students, and developed action plans to address them. Focusing on critical institutional goals such as improved enrollment, persistence, and completion, the institutions implemented strategies such as: targeted marketing and outreach, enhanced credit for prior learning (CPL) programs, improved onboarding of Latino adult students, intentional advising that addresses Latino adult student needs, and expansion of career services and post-graduation employment. While the LASS Academy’s time frame was too short to capture the longer-term impact of these strategies in terms of student persistence and completion, the project focused on creating a more data-driven culture within the institutions by establishing processes for collecting and disaggregating such data to inform programs and services in the long run. Positive trends in Adult Learner 360 diagnostics, average credits completed by adults and Latino adults, and other key student success metrics also emerged.
In addition, the experience offered several important lessons that underscored the advantages of the Academy model. The institutions benefited from the opportunity to connect with each other and share strategies, and they valued the emphasis on the use of both quantitative data from their own student records and the analysis of new qualitative survey results. The initiative further showed the creative resilience of the institutions to quickly change course during the pandemic and adjust their implementation plans in the course of its shifting circumstances.
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