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Report: California adult education needs restructuring, accountability
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's $2.1 billion adult education system is a disjointed hodgepodge of courses, fees and faculty and should be overhauled to make it consistent and focused statewide, the state Legislative Analyst's Office said in a report released Wednesday.

The 28-page document termed adult education as "a program adrift" and recommended that the state Legislature take steps to make it more coherent and accountable to taxpayers and students.

About 300 adult education programs serving an estimated 1.5 million people exist in the state, largely provided by local school districts and the state's 112 community colleges. Among the subjects taught: English as a second language, remedial reading, writing and math, high school equivalency, U.S. citizenship, vocational training, effective parenting, fitness classes and enrichment courses for senior citizens such as ceramics.

That mission is too broad, the legislative analyst said. The purpose should be narrowed to those courses that help adults integrate into society and the workforce and classes such as senior citizen enrichment and fitness classes should be dropped.

The investigation found discrepancies between course fees, entrance requirements and faculty standards between community colleges and school districts. Lawmakers should adopt one policy for all adult education programs, including standardized courses similar to the state university systems, the report recommended.

The report also found that some colleges mix adult education students who do not earn credit in classes with degree-seeking students, and some give college credit for adult ed classes such as elementary algebra, a ninth-grade high school course.

The state also should dedicate a stream of funding for adult education, instead of giving schools the flexibility of using general fund money. The report said this would create more accountability as to how the districts and colleges use their adult education funds and provide better data for oversight.

A spokeswoman for the California Community College chancellor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.