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Adult Education

Note: As of July 1, 2023, Iowa's Adult Education and Literacy Programs have transitioned to Iowa Workforce Development to reflect programs and services that are primarily focused on workforce development and employment.



Today's workplace presents numerous opportunities and challenges for adults. Employers need workers with strong basic skills and an ability to adapt to change. Today's families are faced with multiple responsibilities as they address their children's educational needs as well as their own. Iowa’s Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) programs build skills for success by providing adults with the opportunity to acquire and improve functional skills necessary to enhance the quality of their lives as workers, family members, and citizens. Educational services are available at little or no cost to adult learners and are designed to meet the educational needs of each individual.

AEL programs are designed to:

  • Satisfy the basic literacy needs of adults.
  • Improve and/or upgrade information processing and computational skills leading to a high school equivalency diploma or entry into postsecondary education.
  • Satisfy the continuing education demands of adults in the current labor market.
  • Improve the self-esteem of adults.
  • Empower adults to achieve their goals.

Mission: To provide accessible, quality instruction that develops life, work and literacy skills.


According to federal legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Title II, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the qualifications for students are as follows:

  • Adults who are 16 years of age or older
  • Adults who are not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law; and who:
    • lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable them to function effectively on the job, in the family and in society, or
    • do not have a secondary school diploma or its equivalent level of education, or
    • are unable to speak, read or write the English language.
  • Only adults who meet the eligibility criteria above may enroll in the Iowa AEL program.


  • Basic Skills Instruction in reading, writing, math, listening and speaking.
  • HSED Test Preparation in science, social studies, mathematics, language arts-reading, language arts-writing and calculator training.
  • Official Practice Test (OPT) Administration for documenting readiness to take the HiSET™ test.
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages in pre-literacy, reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, U.S. history and government, and cultural literacy.
  • College Readiness Skills Instruction in organization and time management, technology, goal setting, test-taking skills, and self-advocacy.
  • Job Readiness Skills Instruction in goal setting, career planning, personal work attributes, employee rights and responsibilities, job search strategies and unemployment survival.
  • Computer Literacy Skills in keyboarding, word processing and other introductory skills.



All adult education and literacy classes, including testing for the HSED (formerly known as the GED®), is done at local community colleges. Click on the appropriate college link below to learn more about programs offered and class schedules.


For questions regarding the Adult Education and Literacy program in Iowa, please email