New Federal Guidance on IET Leaves Us Wanting More

Integrated Education and Training (IET) is the core educational program design in adult career pathways–a research-proven strategy.  While IET efforts have been evolving for as long as we have had a federal investment in adult education (e.g., workplace literacy, Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL), contextualized high school equivalency), IET is now well-defined in the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as

 “…a service approach that provides adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement.” (34 CFR §463.35).

IET offers participants the opportunity to learn and apply new skills to career and life goals. There are numerous, diverse models for IET delivery that reflect a range of adult education contexts.

What’s new in the updated IET guidance?

Last month, U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education updated IET guidance through an FAQ on Allowable Use of Adult Education and Family Literacy Act Funds for IET programs (OCTAE Program Memo 19-02).

While the memo focuses on funding information, it also clarifies the types of credentials that might exist in the spectrum of IET programs–both the gold standard ‘recognized postsecondary credential’ illustrated in OCTAE Program Memorandum 17-2 and the industry-recognized credentials gained along a pathway.

Program Memo 19-02 also describes how IET programs that include recognized postsecondary credentials will document participant’s successful achievement of that credential in the WIOA exit measure “Credential Attainment.”

What’s missing?

However, the memo misses the opportunity to describe how IET programs which include industry-valued credentials that don’t rise to the level of recognized postsecondary credentials might document their success through WIOA Measurable Skill Gain (MSG).

States report Measurable Skill Gain as 

“The percentage of participants who, during a program year, are in an education or training program that leads to a recognized postsecondary credential or employment and who are achieving documented academic, technical, occupational, or other forms of progress, towards such a credential or employment.”

Federal guidance has confirmed that every WIOA title II participant and/or WIOA title I training participant is in an ‘education or training program that leads to recognized postsecondary credentials or employment.’

So if MSG requires ‘achieving documented academic, technical, occupational, or other forms of progress, towards such a credential or employment,’ industry-recognized credentials could certainly fulfill this requirement with either of these interim progress measures defined in OCTAE Program Memo 17-2:

Satisfactory or better progress report, towards established milestones, such as completion of OJT or completion of one year of an apprenticeship program or similar milestones, from an employer or training provider who is providing training

Successful passage of an exam that is required for a particular occupation or progress in attaining technical or occupational skills as evidenced by trade-related benchmarks such as knowledge-based exams 

States are currently collecting these Measurable Skill Gain types for baseline reporting.

What’s next?

There has been a great deal of federal and state attention to IET funding, curriculum development and lesson planning  But for IET to become ‘business as usual’ in our adult career pathways systems, state WIOA agencies need to issue guidance like these MSG flowcharts from Wisconsin to help local programs understand how to both provide this evidence-based program design and document progress aligned with WIOA performance measures. 

To learn more about IET models, policy, and funding levers, register now for the National College Transition Network (NCTN) conference, November 11-13 and the pre-conference session on Using Integrated Education & Training to Build Quality Career Pathways.

Published by

Judy Mortrude

Judy Mortrude

Judy has more than 30 years’ experience developing, delivering, and evaluating workforce education aimed at low-literacy and high-barrier adults. She has been a classroom teacher, school administrator, and state agency staff. Her most recent job was as Senior Policy Analyst and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). Prior to that, Judy co-designed and directed the Minnesota FastTRAK integrated education and training program for the Minnesota Department of Education and Economic Development.

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