Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee


Bill No.:




Vote Date:


Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:


File No.:


Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee


The bill establishes the definitions of “Contextualized Learning”, “Early College High School and Middle College Programs and directs the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission to develop programs in collaboration with the regional work force development boards.


Gail Coppage, Director of Innovation and Outreach, Board of Regents

Ms. Coppage submitted written testimony and testified in support of this bill. Ms. Coppage stated that the Board of Regents created a state-wide task force with goals similar to those of this bill. Their task force was formed to help understand, define and create a model systemic approach to early college education. The group is making progress in developing possible models for expansion of both contextualized learning and early college experiences with the goal of introducing at least six early college model programs in the system next year.


Jim Boucher (speaking on behalf of Thomas Phillips, CEO) Capital Workforce Partners

Capitol Workforce Partners and the other four WIB's have direct experience in supporting the program especially during the last two years due to a construction industry funded pilot project in their region and a Jobs First Employment Services program funded state wide. They think it is time to increase contextualized learning and models like I BEST to prepare low literate adults to be more competitive in the labor force. Their testimony lists a number of reasons why this bill is important and why it should be passed.

Alice Pritchard, Executive Director, Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund

Ms. Pritchard testified submitted written testimony and testified in support of this bill. Her testimony included data concerning how the state and many people are affected by the gap in adult literacy and also as it relates to a correlation between an educational gap and how it affects securing employment. She mentions that people without a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 23.8%.

She stated that efforts have been made to advance contextualized learning in Connecticut with some funding in federal Program Improvement Project (PIP) grants specifically for I-BEST programs.

The suggested language creates a broader definition of Contextualized learning and says that the state shall make $2.5 million in new funds in the 2015 budget which directs the Connecticut Department of Labor to contract with the five regional Workforce Investment Boards within 60 days of the state budget adoption. The Dept. of Labor would be required to make a report to the Higher Education Committee regarding progress annually. The bill would also direct that the Connecticut Workforce Investment Boards develop a contextualized learning and career pathways plan for implementation of the programs and provide a planning grant of $100,000 to the 5 workforce Boards for completing of their plan.

William Villano, President and CEO, Workforce Alliance, the South Central Workforce Investment Board

Mr. Villano submitted written testimony in support of this legislation. He stated that they are currently using contextualized learning programs and the I-BEST program and that are showing promise. Their legislative agenda is calling for $2 million in additional resources and a broadening of the target population to anyone who does not have the skills to enter college or find employment. If the additional resources are allocated they support the bills recommendation for a statewide implementation plan.

Suzanne Cimochowski, Assistant Director of Adult Programs for EASTCONN

Ms. Cimochowski submitted written testimony and testified in support of this legislation pointing out that many of her students do not have the luxury of time to complete two programs and they often have to stop school after they complete one. The I-BEST model of contextualized learning allows them to do both at the same time. The curriculum for the diploma or the English language uses vocabulary, math, reading in the context of the training so it is relevant to them and it does not take as much time to complete both elements. She says that more resources are need to make these programs available to more students.

Richard Tariff, Director, EASTCONN Adult Programs

Mr. Tariff submitted written testimony and testified in support of this bill saying that there is a strong need for their programs so they can continue their mission of providing Adult basic Education, High School Completion programs, ESL classes and Citizenship. Not a year goes by that they do not need additional resources. He hopes that they will be able to obtain more funding so they can provide training for those students who fall through the cracks of Jobs First Employment Services Program and federal regulations.

Maria Pukas, Director of New London Adult and Continuing Education

Ms. Pukas submitted written testimony in support of this bill. She states that the most troubling aspect of the I-BEST program is the funding and that they have a number of students who are on a waiting list to take advantage of them. Much of the funding to provide the vocational training is derived from local fundraisers and through support from local businesses. Much more could be done if there were more funding resources available to them. She provided some data to support her comments: Of 108 students served 94% completed the program, 88% earned industry credentials, 67% gained employment, 80% earned High School diplomas and 77% of program completers scored 4-points above on the CASAS testing. Their data proves that the program is a success with positive impact on the lives of many families.

Testimony of Students at New London Adult Education – I Best Program:

The testimony of the following students was in support of the bill:

Cianny Reyes, Keyla Montanez, Marie Claude Somathe, Kylee Altvater, Tara Earley, Yvette Phillips, Nicole DeMauro, Maria Morales, Jazdel Rodriguez, Falyn Gorneault, Ashley Charette, Michelle Alvarez, Martha (?), Zulma Torres, Martha Liindblad and Lisandra Sanchez-Crespo – I Best Program Coordinator.

Ms. Juliana Levine - Resident of Danielson, Sheri Houghton – Resident of Putnam, Jill McLaughlin – Resident of Sterling, Bethany Newton – Resident of Putnam, and Michelle Leduke also offered testimony in support of this bill.


No testimony in opposition to this bill.

Reported by: Richard Ferrari, Assistant Clerk

Date: March 19, 2014