A Policy Framework for Integrated Pathways

The Policy Framework for Integrated Pathways is a framework for organizing the state- and system-level policies impacting the ability of institutions to support their ABE students from enrollment to graduation. The framework consists of five broad categories: Data and Analysis, Program Redesign, Aligned Expectations, Assessment and Referral, and Finance. 

Data and Analysis

States and systems need to set specific goals and benchmarks for ABE students around persistence, progression, and credential attainment linked to labor market demand. To succeed in this endeavor, states must support postsecondary data collection, disaggregation, analysis, reporting, and use. This data system should be integrated with other critical state databases and be reported in a publically accessible format. Policies must be in place to ensure that college staff receive appropriate training related to data.

Program Redesign

States must encourage institutions to implement new practices and designs aimed at improving the success rates for adult education students. Without clear incentives or support, many colleges may consider it too risky to pursue new programmatic approaches and student support strategies. States must also provide guidance around the types of redesign model that work and how to best implement them.


To reduce system misalignments that begin at the state level and filter down to college-level programs, states need to align strategic priorities across education and workforce agencies and develop shared goals and initiatives. Policy efforts focused on bridging entry, exit, and content standards for adult education, remedial education, and workforce development and occupational programs are critical for improving the progression of ABE students. Additionally, the policy work should take into account the curricular connections between precollege and college-level courses to ensure that graduates from one area can move seamlessly into the next.

Assessment, Referral, and Placement

Poorly defined or poorly assessed diagnostic criteria can significantly hinder student success at multiple points in the ABE-to-credential student pipeline. Policy efforts aimed at standardizing assessments, cut scores, and placement criteria can go a long way toward ensuring that students take appropriate courses and remain enrolled. Additionally, it is the interventions associated with the cut scores that are most critical. Targeted assessments aligned with college readiness can lead to significantly accelerated pathways for low-skilled adult students.


Targeted financial aid and institutional funding policies at both the college and individual levels can significantly affect student success. For low-skilled adult students, financial aid must be flexible and support acceleration strategies. For the college, state funding formulas need to incentivize student progression and completion but not by encouraging the production of lower-quality credentials.
For more on financing integrated pathways, see Implementation and Sustainability