No Wrong Door: a core SBCAE principle.
“The South Bay Consortium for Adult Education commits to implementing a “No Wrong Door” philosophy – that is, an adult learner will be able to begin their educational process no matter which SBCAE member’s services they access first. They will be welcomed, and their goals and needs will be understood and used to personalize service. There will be a common system to identify the student’s level of academic functioning and comfort zone when it comes to instructional setting. The contact will be culturally sensitive and respectful, and the optimal setting will be found for that individual.”
As SBCAE is in the midst of developing the next Three-Year Regional Plan for Adult Education, now is an appropriate time to revisit this language from the first Regional Plan, dating back seven years to 2015. No Wrong Door was, and still is, a guiding principle for how the five adult schools and four community colleges that make up the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education work together. The concept is unequivocally student-centered, putting the needs and goals of the adult learner above institutional goals and targets.
Excellent English as a Second Language (ESL), Career Technical Education (CTE) and Adult Basic/Secondary Education programs are offered across SBCAE member agencies, and students who walk through any of our doors will be served in a high quality, supportive educational environment. There are, however, instances in which, when learning about a student’s goals or interests, it becomes clear that a certain school or college may not be the best fit for a learner. Examples include high-level ESL students who may be ready for a career or academic pathway at a Community College; or students coming to Community College who may benefit from obtaining a High School Diploma/Equivalent or foundational ESL classes at an Adult School first. Sometimes, the career interests of a student simply don’t match the program offerings at a particular agency, and they are referred to a consortium member who offers a specific career training program. Over the past seven years, SBCAE members have become more adept at referring students between agencies when their needs and goals call for it. Learners are supported with a warm hand off through the network of Transition Specialists who help students navigate their options.
More remains to be done, however, to fully operationalize this No Wrong Door principle. The next Three-Year plan invites adult schools and colleges to more clearly map out pathways, benchmarks and transition points; to offer differentiated (college, career, community) pathways for English learners; and to develop academic plans for learners that lay out their educational journey across SBCAE agencies in incremental, actionable steps. Furthermore, the time is right to develop tools by which students can easily explore educational options across consortium members, and map out their own pathway. We look forward to building upon the Open Doors platform to do exactly that.
The ideals and principles expressed in the first Regional Plan for Adult Education continue to call upon SBCAE to truly realize a No Wrong Door system for adult learners in the wider San Jose region. In a time when so many community members could benefit from the economic and social mobility opportunities offered by SBCAE, yet are faced with navigating an increasingly complex educational system, anything less would be a disservice.