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National Career Awareness Project

Goal: The overall goal of the Career Awareness Project was to increase and improve adult learners’ career awareness and planning throughout all levels of the adult basic education spectrum.

Funder:  Office of Vocational and Adult Education/ U.S. Department of Education

Geographic Coverage: Teams from 16 states participated in this project. (Numbers on the map represent the three US Department of Education regional resource centers). States applied to participate in one of two rounds, January–June 2011 or July–December 2011.

Beneficiaries:  Consistent with best practices for promoting system change, the project was designed to have impact on four levels: adult basic education program staff (teachers and counselors); adult learners; adult basic education programs; and state level adult basic education systems.

Participation in this project allowed [our students] to see themselves growing and achieving career goals they had previously dismissed. It was a great motivational resource for reaching language goals, in order to move towards career goals. Completion of the Career and Education Planning Worksheet was the ultimate achievement for our students.

    - Adult Educator Participant

Activities: This was an extended professional development and state capacity building project. The project offered state teams, consisting of a state team leader and two teachers/counselors, the opportunity to explore the career planning process using the Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE/ESOL Classroom (ICA) curriculum, a product developed by World Education. The ICA curriculum guide provides classroom-ready, flexible lessons, handouts, and online resources to prepare instructors and counselors to guide adult students through a career awareness and planning process.

Description: Description: CD%20cover%20-%20smallState teams participated in an online course, developed by World Education, followed by a structured implementation phase over a six-month period. During the implementation phase, local program staff incorporated career awareness and planning into instructional and counseling activities. State team leaders collected input from team members to develop a plan for disseminating the career awareness curriculum and professional development statewide.




State Level Adult Education Offices


  • 16 states participated and completed dissemination plans and are in early stages of implementing them.

Adult Education Staff


  • 122 adult education staff completed all projected activities over a 6-month period: 6-week online course; implementation of lesson plans; and staff and student assessments.
  • 100% of the staff who completed the online course and post-evaluation rated the course favorably. When  asked to rate how much they knew before and after project participation about how to conduct career planning activities, there was a significant increase in percentage of respondents who reported "knowing a lot" about a topic after participation.
  • To understand changes in practice and attitudes, staff were asked how likely it was that, as a result of participation, they would take a variety of steps within four months of completing the project. The majority reported plans to do at least one of the following: continue teaching the career planning lessons; share their work with colleagues; make a presentation at a staff meeting or conference.

Adult Education Students


  • 826 students participated in lessons and completed self-assessment.
  • When asked to rate their knowledge about how to conduct a variety of steps in career research and planning, before and after the lessons, there was a substantial increase in those who knew a little before the lessons, and know a lot after.
  • 93% of the students who completed the post-assessment reported that they completed a written Career and Education Plan. When asked "how much do you think having a written goal will motivate you to continue in adult education," the majority (75% ) felt it would motivate them "very much" and 20% felt it would motivate them "somewhat."

Adult Education Programs


  • 88% of participating program directors responded to a survey. The majority said that the benefits of the project exceeded their expectations.
  • When asked about the likelihood of doing a variety of activities to institutionalize the project practices the majority of program directors said they had already or were very likely to have staff present their career planning lessons at a staff training and investigate additional resources to support the work.


Significance:  Building the field's capacity to prepare students for college and career pathways is a national and state priority. This project enabled program staff to develop concrete instructional and counseling skills in this area. The project also enabled state team leaders to observe best practices and materials in action in order to plan for statewide dissemination and scale-up.

Next Steps:  Participating states are in the process of finalizing and implementing dissemination plans. In some states NCTN will assist in developing customized training for the teams to deliver in their own states.

Final Report: Download here (PDF).

Project Director:  Sandy Goodman, Director of Career Pathways, National College Transition Network,

This project is supported by funds from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, through CFDA 84.2567T, LINCS Regional Resource Center Grant No. X257T06001. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this course is intended or should be inferred.

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