McGraw-Hill Research Foundation Policy Paper Cites Urgent Need For Investment In Adult Education

Funding of these Programs is Critical to the Nation's Economic Recovery

Paper released at the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education's Conference and "Policy March" on Capitol Hill

May 09, 2011, 11:25 ET from McGraw-Hill Research Foundation

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Thought leaders in adult education and career training programs from across the country are meeting in Washington, D.C., today, highlighting the vital role these programs play in America's economic recovery.  The value of these programs is further underscored in a new policy paper from The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation, released today in conjunction with the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education's conference and "2011 Policy March on the Hill" event. The paper asserts that investments in these programs are among the most cost-effective ways to improve economic conditions across states and the nation.      

In the policy paper, "The Return on Investment (ROI) From Adult Education and Training," the authors contend that billions of dollars could be earned, saved and pumped back into the struggling economy as a result of investments in effective and efficient workforce development programs. The paper, citing numerous examples in support of this contention, was written by sector experts Dr. Lennox McLendon, Executive Director, National Council of State Directors of Adult Education and National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium; Debra Jones, California Director of Adult Education and Chair, NAEPDC Research Workgroup, and Mitch Rosin, Editorial Director, McGraw-Hill School Education Group.

The authors note, "A preemptive focus on adult education actually saves governments money by reducing societal healthcare, public assistance, and incarceration costs. Adult education also improves and expands the nation's available pool of human capital by helping motivated but under educated people achieve gainful employment in today's increasingly high-tech and global job market, and at a far lower cost per learner when compared to either K-12 or higher education."

Drawing on studies of the economic contributions of high school graduates and skilled workers to their respective communities, the authors deliver an extremely compelling argument for focusing on adult education – especially during a downturn – in order to preserve the nation's economic health.  Consider a report released by the Alliance for Excellence in Education and cited in the paper. The report analyzed the effect of educational achievement on the local economies of the 45 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. The report found that if only half of the high school dropouts in these areas managed to graduate, they would have contributed the following additional combined economic benefit to their communities during an average year:

  • $4.1 billion in additional earnings, compared to their likely earnings without a diploma;
  • An additional $2.8 billion in spending and $1.1 billion in investments;
  • Additional spending and investments likely to have generated 30,000 new jobs increasing gross regional products of their areas by $5.3 billion; and
  • State and local tax revenues in each of the areas would have increased as a result of this increased economic activity – an additional $536 million in an average year.

The policy paper also illustrates results of cost/benefit analyses of adult education programs in 10 states across the nation. Authors McLendon, Jones and Rosin examine the economic impact of devoting resources to the under educated and under employed in these states. For example,

  • Arkansas, with a GED pass rate of 85 percent compared to the national average of 73 percent, invested a little over $18 million during the '08-'09 budget cycle, largely helping 7,443 GED test takers pass their GEDs or high school equivalency diplomas. With studies showing high school graduates and GED diploma holders earning an average of $8,860 more per year than non-high school graduates, the ROI equaled more than $10 million in tax revenues.

  • Georgia offers a variety of programs for adult learners, which in 2009 resulted in an economic impact of $1.035 billion, almost triple the $373 million invested.  The state saw technical college graduates increase earnings by $149,078,044; Jobs created and saved by the state's Quick Start workforce training program contributed $493,532,040; Adult education increased earnings with GED by $143,962,742; and federal and other funds generated $249,189,336.

"A recent infusion of additional public funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has demonstrated what can be accomplished in a short amount of time when adult education programs are: well funded and aligned with employment-oriented services that focus on the customer (the learner), attuned to occupational needs at the local level; and committed to monitoring performance for continuous improvement," the authors note. "The benefits of having a smarter, better-educated, and skilled workforce go far beyond the numbers into areas that can also be supported empirically, but which may be difficult to quantify – such as self-esteem, happiness, and hope for the future."

Note to Editors:

To download "The Return on Investment (ROI) From Adult Education and Training," click here.

About The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation

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SOURCE McGraw-Hill Research Foundation