Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dare to Dream: A best practices document to further the needs of Adult Literacy

A great document that was just released on how to change adult literacy programs to make them more effective and longer lasting. These studies are extremely important for any community since adult illiteracy permeates every community. What I thought was striking about this study was that if you talk to any business, you will find that they are already aware of this problem, and would have the same suggestions. Businesses need qualified workers, otherwise, they cannot be profitable, nor will they stay in business.

National Council on Adult Literacy
Dare to Dream
A Collection of of Papers from a Resource Group of 102 Educational and Literacy Professionals

Suggestions and clusters center around several broad themes: (parenthesis mine)

  • Make adult education a mainstream education system with strong articulation to post-secondary education and occupational training. (Workforce development)
  • Articulate clearly that adult education and literacy provides economic benefits to students via workforce preparation and postsecondary education. (Adult literacy and workforce development go hand-in-hand.)
  • Establish clear goals and a few achievable priorities
  • Treat ESL/immigration as having high importance (This is a larger part of the workforce than most would admit. We also rely in it more than anyone would admit.)
  • Ensure teacher quality and elevate status of adult education professionals
  • Improve both the accountability system and assessment tools (probably heading towards performance-based budgeting)
  • Make far greater use of technology and distance learning to improve service and expand outreach. (Online resources such as Rosetta Stone, bookmobile services, and remote internet access are key to this. Those in need may be reluctant to go to a center such as a library to get assistance.)
  • Adopt and mobilize new approaches to building public awareness and business advocacy--especially at the state and local levels--as part of comprehensive planning for education and economic development. (Again if you talk to many businesses, they find adult literacy a very critical component of their operations.)
  • Strengthen ongoing basic and applied research
  • Differentiate local, state, and federal roles

I think the best piece talked about how the GED was not the end-all be-all of Adult Education. Most of this population goes through this process to get and hold down a job. The GED is just a piece of paper without a job.

Members believe attainment of the GED and increased levels of basic skills proficiency as measured by standardized tests are not adequate measures of preparation for further education and job readiness, and the GED should not be considered the terminal goal of AE (Adult Education).

Most members believe that AE is more likely to be sold to the public through a "top down" process via elites, as part of economic development initiatives.

The same could be said for making the case for the need for public libraries as well. Getting the right people involved and placing this need in the context of the "elites" priorities makes for successful advocacy.

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