Tag Archives: Adult Learning

Adding Up The Low Costs of Literacy Among Adults

Matthew Burke graduated from high school even though he was reading at about the third-grade level. He got a job as a welder but found his lack of reading skills held him back. Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU

Matthew Burke graduated from high school even though he was reading at about the third-grade level. He got a job as a welder but found his lack of reading skills held him back. Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU

This NPR article from 2013 makes a compelling case statement for funding adult education and literacy programs. The topic is still relevant in 2018. The following is an excerpt from the article:

A ‘Double Expense’

People who struggle to read, write and speak English are sentenced to a lifetime of economic challenges, says Stephen Fuller, an economist with George Mason University in Virginia. He says it’s important to have an educated workforce.

“If we fail, it’s a double expense, ’cause the economy isn’t healthy, and we also have increased social services,” he says.

Fuller says that has enormous costs for society. People with low literacy are more likely to need unemployment checks, food stamps and subsidized housing. And they are more likely to end up behind bars.

To read more, click on this link to Adding Up the Costs. The article, the 4th in a series, leads to three other articles related to adult literacy and the challenges adults face in pursuing their educational and workplace dreams.

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Using the PIAAC Literacy Framework to Guide Instruction: An Introduction for Adult Educators

The introduction to the PIAAC Literacy Freamwork to Guide Instruction: An  Inroduction for Adult Educators by Amy Trawick (January 2017) reveals the following facts about adult education and literacy for adults in the U.S.:

Piaac literacy framework

“In general, the average score for adults in the United States was not significantly different from the international
average in reading literacy (Rampey, Finnegan, Goodman, Mohadjer, Krenzke, Hogan, &
Provasnik, 2016). However, the overall average conceals results of great concern:

  • A larger percentage of U.S. adults scored in the very lowest levels for reading literacy, compared to the international cohort;
  • U.S. adults with less than a high school diploma scored lower than their peers
  • While only 9% of Whites in the U.S. scored at the lowest levels of proficiency, 33% of Blacks and 40% of Hispanics performed at these levels;
  • Roughly 75% of unemployed adults (age 16-65) in the U.S. have less than a high
    school credential as their highest education level, and a third of these perform at the lowest levels in reading literacy; and
  • Adults with the lowest literacy scores were more likely to report a poor health status and more limited civic engagement (Rampey et al., 2016).”

The resource contains the following information for instructors in terms of WIOA requirements for teaching reading and Standards Based Instruction:


  • Definition for Literacy
  • Basic Task Elements: Contexts, Content, and Cognitive Strategies
    • Contexts
    • Content
    • Cognitive Strategies
    • Factors Affecting Task Difficulty


  • Phase 1: Contextualize the Skill Instruction, Using the Basic PIAAC Framework Elements
  • Phase 2: Incorporate the Factors Affecting Task Difficulty
  • Phase 3: Embed and Sequence Instruction in the Most Relevant Skills
  • Putting It All Together

Click here to learn more about the document.

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Today’s Traditional Student Looks Like Yesterday’s Non-Traditional Students

traditional student

Recently, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released Demographic and Enrollment Characteristics of Nontraditional Undergraduates: 2011-12, a report with descriptive statistics about nontraditional undergraduate students. Nontraditional students have the following characteristics: they are independent, have dependents of their own, did not enter postsecondary education immediately after high school, and/or may be working while enrolled in school. The report presents key demographic, enrollment, and academic data from comprehensive, nationally representative surveys of nontraditional students. Click on image to enter the site.

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Throwing Down the Gauntlet for Professional Development

OCTAEIt is time to throw down the gauntlet for PD.  A serious conversation and commitment to Adult Education professional development is long overdue.  We should be talking more extensively and with higher-level commitment about the conditions we need to create for work and learning in our field, for the good of adult learners and our nation.  All the more so as we work together to prepare for a full and robust implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act…

Judging Adult Education Teacher Performance.  Very little national data is available by which to judge current teacher performance in Adult Education, but the data that is available shows enormous variation between and within states and local grantees on key performance indicators.  Depending on which state or local program they enter, adult learners face very different prospects for success. The likelihood that an adult learner will achieve a positive outcome in a given year can be three to four times higher in some states than in others, almost certainly due at least in part to differences in teaching effectiveness…

Many difficult questions face us at this juncture. For example, how can we take our efforts to scale? What service delivery training models should we choose?  Can we craft activities that are both efficient and effective? The New Teacher Project found that systemic district efforts did not significantly contribute to improvements in practice.  Are more personalized models needed for adult education? Are current job-embedded models providing the needed level of personalized support for educator growth?

Read the rest of the article at this link.

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Adult Learning in Focus: National and State by State Data

adult-learningAdult Learning in Focus: National and State-by-State Data

State policymakers care now, perhaps more than ever before, about the educational attainment of their states’ working populations. They also care about the responsiveness of educational systems in their states to the needs of adult learners. But relatively few have the data they need to understand how their states are doing in developing and educating its citizens.

In Adult Learning in Focus: National and State-by-State Data, CAEL has teamed with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) to provide states with the information needed to assess state performance on adult learning and identify where to direct future strategies.

Pdf of full report

This comprehensive report contains national and state-by-state data on adult learning. Included are data and comparative charts on adult educational attainment, adult learning participation, affordability, accessibility and aspiration. Also discussed are data gaps that need to be addressed and next steps for state education leaders.