JEVS Human Services
Literacy Acceleration Project Associate
Project Goal: The fellow will work to ensure that more young people in our region will be able to earn a HSE (High School Equivalent) credential and gain access to the education and employment opportunities that will lead to stability and success. Our proposed goals for the Fellow for the third year of the project are: 1. Evaluate the successes of the pilot year (2016-17) 2. Operationalize the full incorporation of best practices that have been piloted this year 3. Develop an organizational guide to help program staff appropriately match clients with the HSE program and assessment that can maximize their success in the shortest amount of time. 4. Disseminate lessons learned to the HSE and adult literacy field.
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. 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 35,000 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 St, 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Total number of Agency Staff Members 884
Agency Budget $92,695,039
The fellow’s duties and responsibilities:
Over the course of the Fellowship year, the Fellow will:
- Conduct observations of high school equivalency instruction in action at JEVS and other organizations focused on HSE instruction, spearheading the analysis of what high school equivalency programs do well with different HSE options (including the GED, HiSET, Penn Foster, etc.)
- Work with instructors to incorporate successful strategies piloted this year into ongoing infrastructure at each program location.
- Collect and analyze JEVS data on strategy implementation. Data points to include: i. Quantitative TABE gains related to program enrollment time ii. Persistence – attendance and retention iii. Student high school equivalency credential attainment iv. Post-secondary enrollment v. Qualitative customer satisfaction scores
- Continue to gather the recent research from the field about HSE instruction and adult literacy
- Facilitate our professional learning community (PLC) of HSE instructors
- Develop a guide to help instructors and program directors determine which secondary credential option is best for an individual student (taking into account high school credits already earned, current math and literacy proficiency levels, personal goals, current life circumstances, etc.)
- Enact an organization sustainability plan to ensure that high school equivalency instruction continues to be systematized across the agency.
Skills/qualifications a fellow should have to succeed in the position:
The ideal fellow will be:
- A liberal arts graduate with a major in education, special education, social work, or a related discipline.
- Ideally, she or he will have experience teaching, tutoring, or working with youth and young adults in urban environments.
- The candidate will have exceptional research, data analysis, and writing skills and an interest in the practical implications of system policy changes.
- Ability to travel to different JEVS facilities (mostly accessible via public transportation).
Specific community need that the Philly Fellow will address:
In Philadelphia, the four-year high school graduation rate has stayed near 65% for the past several years (http://thenotebook.org/articles/2016/04/14/graduation-rate-flat-after-years-of-increases). 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 or other high school equivalency credential, 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—the national pass rate dropped by about 500,000 from 2013 to 2014. In January 2016, the GED Testing Service announced that it was lowering the required passing score on each section of the test from a 150 to a 145. The new GED test is still a significant a challenge for low-level learners, but the score change makes it an attainable goal for learners with the proper supports and the persistent commitment necessary to make academic progress a priority in their lives. 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 82% enter with math proficiency below 9th grade. 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 or another form of high school equivalency (HSE), an essential criterion for success. We are applying for a third 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 and other high school equivalency assessments/programs. In the first year of this project (2015-16), our Philly Fellow compiled and vetted emerging research in the field related to the new GED test, and synthesized her research and discussions into a resource guide outlining these best practices. In year two (2016-17), our Fellow is helping JEVS staff pilot the best practices identified by our first Philly Fellow into JEVS youth programs. A 2017-18 Philly Fellow will work with JEVS instructors and program directors to fully revise our program strategies for low-literacy and low-numeracy youth based on the pilot taking place this year. The 2017-18 Fellow will ensure ongoing sustainability beyond the three-year Fellow project to ensure successful practices are maintained in years to come and that JEVS has the infrastructure to respond to additional testing changes in the future. Our ultimate goal with this work is to increase the proficiency levels of low-level youth to the point where they are prepared to take and pass the new GED exam or other HSE assessments/programs 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 HSE and continue to post-secondary education.
How the new capacity created by this fellow will help strengthen the community and alleviate the problem:
When we first began our project, the revised GED was new and there was 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 on best practices in GED program best practices related to preparation for out-of-school youth with low proficiency, JEVS has been able to make a serious contribution to the youth services and adult literacy field in Philadelphia. That scholarship has continued as we implement strategies this FY (2016-17). National and state policies have also changed to allow more forms of HSE assessments, and we are now recalibrating our practice to incorporate these multiple assessments. Our third year Fellow will not only allow us to fully incorporate these best practices in our programs, but will also lead an effort to create practices and policies to ensure that each student is matched with the HSE assessments and program that best meets their academic and social needs. 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. Fully incorporating the most 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 HSE credential and gain access to the education and employment opportunities that will lead to stability and success.
Level of community involvement in the fellow’s project:
The Fellow will be embedded in our community of education practitioners: he/she will be working closely with the HSE instructors from JEVS and other organizations, observing instruction, and evaluating emerging and established best practices in adult education and programming for out-of-school youth with our expert Youth Services staff. The fellow will continue to be seated at the JEVS E3 Center where he/she will have daily contact with the E3 population (out-of-school youth). The E3 Center enrolls about 200 members per year and cycles students through three tracks: (1) Educational Services; (2) Employment Readiness & Placement Services; and (3) Empowerment activities – the three E’s. By being placed at the E3 Center, the Fellow will have ample opportunities to experience the diversity of distinct issues faced by out-of-school youth on a deeper level.
The organization’s experience operating anti-poverty programming of this nature:
Each year, JEVS serves more than 5,000 young people throughout Philadelphia (in addition to nearly 30,000 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 high school diploma or GED and advance into postsecondary education: JEVS E3 Center: Now midway through its fourth year of operation, the JEVS E3 Center supports out-of-school youth as they transition to post-secondary education and/or employment, working with them to earn a GED, increase admission to post-secondary education and vocational training, and help them prepare for employment. Post-secondary planning is introduced at E3 orientation and infused throughout the E3 program, building a culture that expects youth to obtain a college degree or some post-secondary training. Project WoW: JEVS has been running Project WoW out of our post-secondary technical school, Orleans Technical Institute, for 11 years. Project WoW provides youth who have dropped out of high school with hands-on training in property maintenance (including framing drywall, painting, tiling, plumbing, electrical, and basic wiring), life and job skills training, and GED test preparation. Throughout their participation in the program, individuals receive intensive case management and supportive services to address barriers that would otherwise hinder success. The Choice is Yours (TCY): TCY, a JEVS program operated in partnership with the Philadelphia DA’s office, is an innovative diversion program for first-time, nonviolent felony offenders facing mandatory minimum prison sentences. TCY offers individuals a second chance at success: instead of prison, TCY participants perform reparative community service and receive job-readiness training, academic tutoring, mentoring, and job placement services. Participants who successfully complete the program have their records expunged. In addition to literacy instruction and GED preparation, TCY offers participants the opportunity to enroll in the Penn Foster high school diploma completion program, which allows students to earn an accredited high school diploma as opposed to a GED. Because the Penn Foster model allows students to receive credit for high school courses they have completed, earning a credential is frequently a much quicker process than passing each GED test section.
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. Mullen and 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 Mullen and to JEVS HR policies and procedures by our HR department.
Name and title of the fellow’s immediate supervisor: Tara Mullen; E3 Program Director and Director of Youth Engagement
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, 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. 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. 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 Street, 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…
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? Yes
If so, how often and where? The Fellow will be expected to travel to various JEVS program locations and conferences within the Philadelphia area, and to at least one national conference beyond the region.
Will the fellow need the following to carry out the position…
A driver’s license? Yes
Their own car? No