Saturday, April 21, 2007

Literacy in Everyday Life: Results from the 2003 National Assessment on Adult Literacy

Literacy in Everyday Life: Results from the 2003 National Assessment on Adult Literacy

Literacy in my community
A 2003 survey indicated that 19 percent of adults could not read at level one. 4,000 adults could not fill out a job application, read a food label or a simple story to a child.

Community Impact
We cannot afford to leave any adults behind. We need each and every individual to work to their full potential. Businesses need a well-trained workforce; our economy depends on a skilled, educated workforce. We cannot afford to send jobs overseas because of deficits in essential workplace skills. Individuals with lower literacy levels are disproportionately represented in the unemployed.

Graph provided by Literacy in Everyday Life: Results from the 2003 National Assessment on Adult Literacy, published April 2007

Economic Impact
1 out of every 5 adults is below basic in literacy skills, which means that 1 in 5 adults do not score above 200 in the literacy scoring used by the National Assessment on Adult Literacy, or 1 in 5 adults do not qualify for any jobs offered in the City. Businesses that cannot find good quality workers will go elsewhere for their business or will not be attracted to the City to conduct their business. At first, they may see an advantage in paying a low wage to its workforce, but the business will never be able to grow or evolve its workforce without qualified applicants. This situation threatens economic development in the city.

Personal Impact
He is a stranger in a strange land of incomprehensible symbols. Knowing the stigma attached to illiteracy, he uses many strategies to conceal his inability - - though he knows people will see through it anyway. That takes even more work, as well as the shame inherent in the ruse. Keeping himself convinced he isn't stupid is a constant effort.

Action is required now to solve this problem in the future.

"The great French Marshall Lyauteyone asked his gardener to plant a tree.The gardener objectedthat the tree was slow growingand would not reach maturity for 100 years.The Marshall replied,In that case, there is no time to lose,plant it this afternoon!"
John F. Kennedy

It takes seven years to acquire a new language and it takes a year for basic literacy skills for current English speakers. Attracting businesses to our community is important now!

"Furthermore, many researchers caution against withdrawing the support of the home language too soon. There is a great deal of evidence that, whereas oral communication skills in a second language may be acquired within two or three years, it may take up to four to six years to acquire the level of proficiency for understanding language in its instructional uses"
( Lessons From Research: What Is the Length of Time it Takes Limited English Proficient Students to Acquire English and Succeed in an All-English Classroom? September 2000, Issue and Brief)

What the Library is doing to provide assistance with this problem:

One on One Tutoring Program
Laubach technique is used for one on one tutoring.
Tutors for Pre-Lit to 3rd grade reading level.
18 hours of training plus working with the students ahead of time to become a regular volunteer.
Nine month commitment to each student
Need to meet with students two (2) to three (3) times per week (at least 4 hours).
Need at least 30 tutors, 60 when at full steam and they need to fill out monthly reports on progress.
Coordinator will meet with tutors 4 times a year

Library resources
The Library provides a host of resources to assist our tutors and the general public. The library currently has a full set of Laubach materials for one on one tutoring and other resources for the general public. The library will also have computer programs available for students to use on their own to supplement their training.

Library Bookmobile
The Library maintains bookmobile services. This service provides transportation for tutors, the ability to provide literacy training on site, job searching and internet access on site, as well as general bookmobile services.

Other literacy details:

Literacy Levels

"The percentage of adults with Below Basic quantitative literacy decreased, and the percentage of adults with Proficient prose and document literacy also decreased. In 2003, some 5 percent of adults were nonliterate in English."

Education and Literacy

"Educational attainment increased between 1992 and 2003, with a higher percentage of adults completing an associate’s or college degree and fewer adults ending their education before completing high school. In 2003, average prose, document, and quantitative literacy increased with each increasing level of education, except for students who were still in high school."

Employment, Earnings, and Job Training

"In 2003, adults with higher literacy levels were more likely to be employed full-time and less likely to be out of the labor force than adults with lower literacy levels. Adults with lower literacy levels also generally earned lower incomes. On all three literacy scales, a higher percentage of adults with Proficient literacy were employed in professional and related occupations and management, business, and financial occupations than in other occupations. Many individuals with lower literacy levels were employed in service occupations. Specifically, 30 to 35 percent of adults with Below Basic and 22 to 24 percent of adults with Basic prose, document, and quantitative literacy worked in service jobs, compared with 7 to 10 percent of adults with Proficient prose, document, and quantitative literacy."

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