Do they have a clear goal?
Well, according to their mission statement, the goal of the APNLC is to “work alongside adult learners to meet their goals of enhanced independence, employment, apprenticeship, or post-secondary education.” I think what they are trying to do is pretty clear. I know that the quality of the education is more important than how many people it affects, and I don’t know about all the inner workings of the organization, but a good idea might be to also focus on the growth of the organization, with a goal of over time, growing the reach of the APNLC by taking in more learners.
Do they monitor and assess their progress? How?
Quantitatively, they look at attendance numbers, and how many people move on to the next level or go to college.
Qualitatively, they look at what the staff members says, what the learners say, and other possible feedback. Herman said that, at least for him, it’s not all about the numbers. Seeing a learner come out of their shell and gain confidence and empowerment shows that the APNLC is doing what it needs to. Another part of seeing progress is watching the organization grow and change with the times, so I think that’s another part of monitoring progress — if they have up to date materials and things change through the years, with new technology and materials, etc.
Are they transparent with what they do and how they spend their funding?
See my post about this
Do they look at and consider the long-term impact?
I think the core mission of the APNLC is something long-term –literacy skills and the confidence that comes from going to and learning from school is something that is lifetime.
What progress have they noticed? Would they consider themselves effective, and are there ways in which they wish to improve? I think it is pretty clear that there has been progress. From what Herman told me, and what I saw on the website (they have annual newsletters in which the learners write a short piece), the APNLC definitely is effective. Not just in giving someone the skills to go to college or get a job, but also in giving them the confidence to. There are a few ways that they could be more effective, and I made this small list with information from Herman, as well as the Chair of the Board, Anne Fleming:
Often, people come to them who have undiagnosed learning disabilities. However, the APNLC does not always have the right programs available–this would need more training for tutors, and maybe special materials. And all that would require more funding.
Another issue is with the pay for the staff. The APNLC is publicly funded by the government so the wages for the staff are not particularly high. This is an issue because it means some staff do not end up staying that long, and leaving after a few years, which can be hard on the learners, because there does need to be a level of trust between the tutors and the learners, and it gets messed up when the tutor leaves.
Lastly, it is something to do with the materials. Sometimes the materials available for learning are things like children’s books, which might be the best level to read at but not always the best confidence booster, or not really relating to the learner. Making sure the materials are up to date and best suited to the learner would be very useful.
I think that’s it for looking at the criteria. The APNLC is definitely an effective organization, with a few possible tweaks here and there. It’s not an issue that everyone thinks of, like homelessness, but is still something important and so is what the APNLC does.