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Adult Learning

More than 10 million working-age adults in the 16 SREB states never earned high school diplomas, yet enrollment of young adults in adult learning programs has dropped in recent years in the region. SREB's Adult Learning program works to increase participation in adult education. "SREB states can lead the nation in educational progress," SREB asserts in the Challenge to Lead Goals for Education. But this cannot be done without significant gains in adult learning in every SREB state.

Just to achieve the national average means that 1.3 million more adults in the South will need to obtain a baccalaureate degree.  Read more.

How SREB is helping

SREB's 2010 report A Smart Move in Tough Times: How SREB States Can Strengthen Adult Learning and the Work Force outlines SREB states’ status in adult learning and the steps that can lead to further education and higher-paying jobs for these adults. It also provides state-level enrollment data in Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, English as a Second Language, GED completion and enrollment of students who earned the GED credential in postsecondary education. Some SREB states have made strides in developing policies and programs for adult learners, and the report profiles some of their efforts and results. It also offers some promising practices for addressing the adult learning challenge.

In addition, SREB's 2005 Adult Learning Campaign (ALC) report, Investing Wisely in Adult Learning is Key to State Prosperity, documents the benefits of providing more education for adults who did not complete high school and the urgency of increasing the number of high school dropouts who pursue further education.

The ALC also has initiated pilot efforts in Louisiana and Virginia. In the first of these pilots, the ALC and the SREB Go Alliance continue to work with the state of Louisiana to emphasize the importance of skills acquisition, work-ready certification and lifelong learning. The objective will be to conduct a promotional campaign directed at a state agency to encourage employees to pursue literacy, job skills training and further education. The second pilot, conducted with the Commonwealth of Virginia's educational and community leaders, targeted rural populations. The ALC and Patrick County Education Foundation continues to work with state and local leaders to document and expand existing adult learning efforts in the Commonwealth, with special emphasis on adults in rural communities.

The ALC staff developed a database of state-funded financial aid programs in SREB states for the 2003 academic year and conducted an analysis of how well those programs serve adult learners. 

The SREB Go Alliance launched a College Access Marketing Web site in July 2005. This site provides guidance for conducting a college access campaign and is an excellent resource of promotional materials (including some targeted to adult learners).

ALC staff is continuing collaboration with fellow Lumina grantees (including the American Council on Education, the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, and the National Governors Association) to develop a policy-review framework for adult learning. This framework is designed to be utilized by states to help assess state policy and program support for adult learners. Results can be used by states to establish or adjust policies and programs to better help adult learners pursue postsecondary education.

The Adult Learning Campaign Project Team had its first-ever "Design Lab" workshop in 2004. SREB staff convened a diverse group of experts to formulate the best strategies to accomplish objectives of a two-year project supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation for Education and develop a "road map" for future adult learning objectives. Learn more about the "Design Lab" outcomes and participants.

Find out more

If you are an adult learner looking to start or resume your college education or satisfy a job requirement:  Visit SREB's Electronic Campus.  The Electronic Campus provides easy access to about 30,000 online courses and more than 2,000 online degree programs from 300 colleges and universities in all 16 SREB states.

If you are a non-traditional student with some college credit needing to complete a degree: visit

If you are planning an adult education campaign: See our Adult Learning Campaign for helpful resources.

SREB, at the direction of the SREB Executive Committee, is working with member states in the Go Alliance to develop and share regional go-to-college campaign materials. To learn more, e-mail Alice Anne Bailey, SREB's director of Go Alliance, at

The Adult Learning Campaign is supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation.

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