II. DESIRED SCOPE OF SERVICES
SER is in the process of developing a Bridge program in the Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency/HVAC sectors. Bridge programs are defined as those that include the following key elements: contextualized instruction (basic reading, math, and language skills and industry/occupation knowledge); career development (career exploration and planning; understanding the world of work); and transition services (case management, financial and personal supports, tutoring). These programs have been proven successful in breaking down the obstacles that have long kept low-literacy adults from getting ahead economically. They are more effective than traditional adult education programs in quickly improving the basic skill levels of adults and assisting learners in transitioning to occupational training and employment along a career pathway.
SER is seeking the services of one or more contractors to develop one to two contextualized basic skills curricula in Spring of 2013, with work beginning immediately upon selection of the contractor(s). One curriculum will be taught in the context of careers in the manufacturing field and the other in the context of careers in the energy efficiency/HVAC field. Both should assist students in improving reading comprehension, writing and math skills while exposing them to concepts, practices and knowledge of the associated industry sector(s) in an integrated fashion. The ultimate goal of the curriculum is to prepare students to achieve the college entrance exam scores they need to place into occupational training programs; the contextualized basic skills training will “bridge” them into college.
Contextualized teaching and learning integrates several key instruction techniques; “according to contextualized learning theory, learning occurs only when students (learners) process new information or knowledge in such a way that it makes sense to them in their own frames of reference (their own inner worlds of memory, experience, and response).” Contextualized instruction uses the following approaches:
• New concepts are presented in real-life situations;
• Concepts are presented in the context of their use;
• New concepts are presented in the context of what the student already knows;
• Examples and exercises include many real, believable problem-solving situations that students can recognize as being important to their current or possible future lives;
• Lessons and activities encourage the student to apply concepts and information in useful contexts, projecting the student into imagined futures (e.g., possible careers) and unfamiliar locations (e.g., workplaces);
• Students are expected to participate regularly in interactive groups where sharing, communicating, and responding to the important concepts and decision-making occur;
• Lessons, exercises, and labs improve students’ written and oral communication skills in addition to reading and mathematical achievement.