RSU 3 adult education program receives top marks
Thorndike — Regional School Unit 3's home-based education program received high marks on a report card released by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
The Students and Parents in Cooperative Education Family Literacy Program, or SPICE, sends adult education and early childhood instructors into the homes of families in the 11 district towns, which covers more than 440 square miles.
Overall, SPICE received a total of 55 points for a final grade of “A-,” according to a press release from the Barbara Bush Foundation. The grade was based on an independent evaluation that factored in the impact of the program on adult literacy skills, children’s literacy skills, family learning activities, student recruitment and retention and other areas.
Patricia Hughes, adult education director for RSU 3, said it's an honor to receive recognition for the work that is done through the SPICE program, and continued by saying the program has consistently scored well on evaluations. In previous years, Hughes said the evaluation awarded a percentage to the programs as opposed to a letter grade with SPICE receiving a 94 percent, but people didn't always understand what the percentage meant.
The program scored as high or higher than six of the other eight programs evaluated in Maine, according to report cards released by the Barbara Bush Foundation.
While SPICE continues to receive positive evaluations, running the program isn't free of challenges.
Included in the evaluation was a note about the challenges facing the program, which in the case of SPICE, is funding. Specifically, the report referenced the need for funding to maintain the existing program, as well as to purchase hardware and software.
Hughes further explained that over the past four to five years the district budget has essentially remained the same. She said the SPICE program serves on average about 18 families and that is all her staff can handle at this time. As well, she said she would like to be able to access more technology that is available to strengthen the program.
Technology plays a significant role in the program because Hughes said laptops are loaned to students, which are used to access a virtual learning center that was created in 2011. The virtual learning center allows students to access various classes and services.
As part of the virtual learning center, students can access four “levels,” which include a high school level, a college level, the career and advising or workforce solutions level and the Maine Parents Place level.
In addition to receiving strong marks for SPICE, Hughes said the Adult and Community Education Program was awarded the 2013 United States Conference in Adult Literacy award for program innovation and collaboration. Hughes said the award will be presented during a national conference in October.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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