JEVS Human Services

GED Acceleration Project Associate


Project Goal: Our proposed goals for the Fellow for the second year of the project are:

  1. Pilot proposed instructional practices or techniques within JEVS youth programs offering GED instruction in Year 2.
  2. Evaluate the piloted practices and provide recommendations for refinement and scaling in Year 3.
  3. Disseminate lessons learned to the GED and adult literacy field.


Agency Information


Agency Mission
JEVS Human Services (JEVS) is a multifaceted organization that has built a reputation in Philadelphia as the “go-to” agency for effectively working with individuals facing significant barriers. The JEVS mission is to enhance the employability, independence, and quality of life of individuals through a broad range of programs and create innovative, sustainable solutions to address current and future community needs.  Guided by this mission, JEVS promotes an asset-based approach to working with clients so that individuals achieve the most self-sufficient lifestyle possible. To maximize the potential of our clients, JEVS connects them to high quality education, training, or employment opportunities. We serve more than 23,000 individuals annually, most of whom are Philadelphia residents living below the poverty line.    In addition to adults, JEVS serves diverse youth populations, including out-of-school youth, high-risk in-school students, youth with disabilities, youth transitioning out of foster care, and youth in the criminal justice system. Our youth programs include academic and interest assessments; postsecondary counseling for college, trade and vocational programs; standardized test prep; academic skill building; job readiness training; service learning; and internship opportunities. To respond effectively to the challenges faced by the populations we serve, JEVS also provides intensive wraparound supports for youth so that they can re-engage academically and develop essential skills for success.

Address  1845 Walnut Street, 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA

Total number of Agency Staff Members  800

Agency Budget   $90,000,000


Job Description

The fellow’s duties and responsibilities:
Over the course of the Fellowship year, the Fellow will:

  1. Conduct observations of GED instruction in action at JEVS and other organizations focused on GED instruction
  2. Work with instructors to implement specific strategies
  3. Collect and analyze JEVS data on strategy implementation. Data points to include:
    • Quantitative TABE gains related to program enrollment time
    • Persistence – attendance and retention
    • Student GED attainment
    • Post-secondary enrollment
    • Qualitative customer satisfaction scores
  4. Continue to gather the recent research from the field about GED instruction and adult literacy
  5. Facilitate a professional learning community (PLC) of GED instructors
  6. Create a GED instructor professional development sustainability plan to ensure that GED instruction continues to be informed by the most up-to-date instruction practices

Skills/qualifications a fellow should have to succeed in the position:
The ideal fellow will be:

  1. A liberal arts graduate with a major in education, special education, social work, or a related discipline.
  2. Ideally, she or he will have experience teaching, tutoring, or working with youth and young adults in urban environments.
  3. The candidate will have exceptional research, data analysis, and writing skills and an interest in the practical implications of system policy changes
  4. Access to car to travel to different JEVS facilities


Community Need

Specific community need that the Philly Fellow will address:
In Philadelphia, nearly 25% of students drop out of high school before graduating Individuals lacking a high school diploma are three times more likely to be unemployed than college graduates, and are more likely to live in poverty compared to high school graduates (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006).     JEVS provides extensive services for low-income, out-of-school youth—young people who lack a secondary credential and are neither enrolled in school nor employed full-time. A focus of our programming for out-of-school youth is helping participants earn a GED, as this is not only a prerequisite for postsecondary education options, but also a definite advantage in securing stable employment.    In January 2014, the GED Testing Service released a revised version of the GED exam. The new exam, aligned to the Common Core State Standards, is more rigorous than previous versions. Of those who have taken the new GED test to date, national data indicates that only 53% have passed, compared to an average 72% for the old GED (    The majority of out-of-school youth JEVS serves come to us with very low proficiency levels (4th grade – 8th grade) in both literacy and math. On average, 71% of participants enter our programs with literacy levels below 9th grade, and 79% enter with math proficiency below 9th grade (2014-15 JEVS enrollment data).     Due to the transient nature of our youth population, JEVS typically has access to our clients for less than one year. Within these time constraints, we are challenged to bring our lower-proficiency youth clients up to a sufficient level to pass the new, more rigorous GED test. JEVS knows that by providing targeted GED instruction that incorporates best practices in the field (including contextualized learning, differentiated instruction, linked support systems, assistive technology, etc.), we can significantly improve the rate at which youth with low academic proficiency can attain the GED, an essential criterion for success. Although we are well-versed in the best practices related to the old GED test, new best practices related to acceleration are just being established for the revised test that was launched in 2014.    We are applying for a second year Philly Fellow to continue our project focused on best practices for preparing youth with 4th – 8th grade literacy and numeracy levels for the GED. This year, our Philly Fellow is compiling, vetting, and incorporating emerging research in the field related to the new GED test. Our goals are to increase the proficiency levels of these low-level youth to the point where they are prepared to take and pass the new GED exam within a year or less and to enhance program practices that contribute to youth persistence and motivation so that they can persist in achieving their GED.  A 2016-17 Philly Fellow will allow us to pilot the best practices identified by our current Philly Fellow into JEVS youth programs.


How the agency addresses this need, and how the new capacity created by this fellow will help alleviate the problem:
Because the revised GED was only introduced last year, there is a lack of scholarship on what works best to prepare individuals with lower educational attainment to pass the new test, especially considering the accelerated timeframe within which many youth providers need to operate. By developing a resource guide this year on best practices in accelerated GED preparation for out-of-school youth with low proficiency, JEVS is making a serious contribution to the youth services and adult literacy field in Philadelphia.  The facilitation of practice implementation lead by a second year Philly Fellow will allow us to pilot these best practices in our GED programs.  This will enhance our program success and contribute to the Philadelphia literacy field since we will continue to disseminate these best practices both regionally and nationally through presentations and forums.    Piloting and testing effective instructional practices will mean that JEVS and its partners will be better able to meaningfully increase disconnected young people’s academic proficiency. Over time, more young people in our region will be able to earn a GED and gain access to the education and employment opportunities that will lead to stability and success.


The organization’s experience operating anti-poverty programming of this nature:
Each year, JEVS serves more than 2,000 young people throughout Philadelphia (in addition to nearly 20,000 adults). We provide comprehensive educational and vocational services to diverse youth populations, including out-of-school youth, high-risk in-school students, youth with disabilities, youth transitioning out of foster care, and youth in the criminal justice system.    JEVS offers a range of programs that, among other services, help young adults earn a GED:


Fellowship Logistics


Fellow orientation plan:
JEVS will thoroughly orient and train the Fellow in the first two weeks of their time with us, with follow-up throughout the first few months as needed. Tara Mullen, JEVS E3 Director and JEVS’ Director of Youth Engagement will be the Fellow’s direct supervisor. Sarah Hollister, JEVS Director of Youth Development works with all of JEVS’ youth programs and will also mentor the Fellow as she/he understands the full breadth of JEVS’ youth programming. Ms. Mullen and Ms. Hollister will orient the Fellow to all JEVS programs providing GED prep, and will introduce him or her to all JEVS staff that provide GED instruction. The Fellow will be oriented to the E3 Center and its data systems by Ms. Mullen. and to JEVS HR policies and procedures by our HR department.


Name and title of the fellow’s immediate supervisor:
Tara Mullen, Program Director, E3 Power Center


Plans for supervision of the fellow:
The Fellow will be supervised by Tara Mullen, JEVS’ Program Director of the E3 Power Center and Director of Youth Engagement.  In July 2013, Ms. Mullen launched the program and oversaw all start-up operations. As Director of our Empowerment, Education & Enrichment Center, she oversees on-going program operations, maintains fiscal oversight of the program, and supervises 11 staff members.  Ms. Mullen also holds a master’s degree in education from Temple University, has more than a dozen years of experience in the youth development field. Prior to JEVS, she was the Program Supervisor of  the Achieving Independence Center’s Independent Living Program for at-risk foster care youth.  Ms. Mullen will directly supervise the Fellow via weekly planning/strategy meetings as well as on-site daily supervision.


Will fellow be working at the same address listed above?
No (please list alternate work site below)  112 N. Broad St. 12th Floor, Philadelphia PA 19102


Will the fellow have their own…             

Office?  Fellow will share  Desk?  Fellow will have their own           Computer?  Fellow will have their own


The approximate percentage of time the fellow will work…

Independently  60  

As a team member in a group setting  25

As a team leader in a group setting  15


Will the fellow be expected to travel as part of the position? 

If so, how often and where?   Every other week–The Fellow will be expected to travel to various JEVS program locations and conferences within the Philadelphia area, and to at least one conference beyond the region. JEVS can provide transportation assistance.


Will the fellow need the following to carry out the position…

A driver’s license?  Yes

Their own car?   No