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Adult Literacy and New Technologies - Federation of American ...

Adult Literacy and New Technologies - Federation of American ...

4 I

4 I Adult Literacy and New Technologies: Tools for a Lifetime 1930 Civilian Conservation Corps defines functional literacy as 3 or more years of schooling. Figure l-l—A Literacy Time Line: Rising Societal Standards for “Functional Literacy” 1947 1952 1980 1970 Census Census U.S. Office Many authorities Bureau Bureau of Education indicate that high defines raises level adopted 8th school completion functional to 6 or more grade as the is necessary for literacy as years of standard. functional literacy. 5 or more schooling. years of schooling. NOTE: This shows “literacy” in terms of years of schooling. OTA does not have data that allow comparison of average skill levels versus amount of schooling over this time period. The National Adult Uteraq Survey (NALS) Is expected to provkfe the first nationally representative data on the literacy sHIIs of the Nation’s adults (ages 16 and alder). Data will include types of literacy skills, levels, and how these skills are distributed acmes the population. The first NALS report wit! be released September 1993. SOURCE: Lawrence C. Stedman and Cari F. Kaestle, ‘Iiteracyand Reading Performance in the United States From 1880 to the Present,” l-iteraq in the United Sfates, Carl F. Kaestle et al. (ads.) (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 77. one’s knowledge and potential. ” 5 The National Adult Literacy Survey, conducted by the Educational Testing Service for the National Center for Education Statistics, has adopted the following definition of literacy: “. . . using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential. Clearly, then, being literate means more than just being able to read. The way in which literacy is defined affects any estimates of the Nation’s literacy problem-how many people lack adequate literacy skills-which in turn affects how the Nation perceives its literacy problem. Depending on which definition 5 Public Law 102-73, Sec. 3, National Literacy Act of 1991. is chosen and which measurement method is employed, the problem can appear bigger or smaller. Those who want a quick estimate or simple yardstick are frustrated-literacy is not something that people either do or do not have, rather it is a continuum of skills that people possess in varying amounts. No single test or indicator can adequately discriminate between the literate and the nonliterate. Nevertheless, whether the yardstick includes the performance of various literacy-related tasks, self-reported literacy problems, or educational attainment, the data suggest that a very large portion of the U.S. population is in s Anne Campbell et al., Educational ‘lksting Service, Assessing Literacy: The Frameworkf’r the NutionuZAdult Literacy Survey, prepared for the U.S. Department of Education (Washington, DC: U.S. Governrnent Printing Offke, October 1992), p. 9.

Chapter 1-Summary and Policy Options | 5 As this public service message suggests, literacy teal.zy goes beyond the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic to include problem-solving and other technology-related skills. need of improving their literacy skills. OTA finds that at least 35 million adults have difficulties with common literacy tasks (see box l-A). Although many of these adults can read at rudimentary levels, many need higher levels of literacy in order to function effectively in society, to find employment, or to be retrained for new jobs. From all indications, only a small proportion of those in need of literacy education are receiving it. Government-sponsored literacy programs— the largest sector of literacy providers---currently serve about 4 million people. OTA finds that the problem of inadequate literacy skills among adults is likely to grow over the next several decades. High rates of immigration and rising rates of poverty indicate that the number of children and families who are educationally at risk will continue to rise. These and other indicators suggest that literacy can be most effectively addressed through a “life-span’ perspective that embraces both remediation and prevention. Literacy levels cannot be raised for the long term solely by remediation. Educational efforts aimed at adults with low literacy skills today, however, can have important intergenerational effects; in addition to improving the life chances of the adult, they can increase the likelihood of positive educational outcomes for that adult’s children. WHO ARE THE LEARNERS AND WHAT DO THEY NEED? Adults do not stop learning when they end their formal schooling. Whether they finish high school or college, or drop out somewhere along the way, adults face changing roles and life choices, and as a result, continue to acquire new skills and knowledge throughout their lives. More and more adults are choosing or being required to return to formal education-to relearn skills they have lost, to acquire skills they never obtained, or to learn new skills that were not taught when they attended school. Learning and going to school have most often been associated with childhood and youth; most current ideas about learning and teaching are based on educating children. Educating adults is very different from educating children, however. Adults bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that can serve as a foundation for new learning. At the same time, adults have many competing demands in their lives that reduce the time available for education. And while most

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    ● ● ● ● ● Chapter 2-The C

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    those who remain ‘ ‘uncounted.

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    population has remained relatively

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    Learning and going to school have m

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    Some studies have used ethnographic

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    ii I New immigrants may often find

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    e-reading the material, and their j

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    T he literacy service delivery ‘

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    400 350 300 250 20O ‘ >“1 \ I [

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    Bell Atlantic Black and Decker Stan

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    Chapter 4-The Literacy System: A Pa

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    s ince the mid- 1960s, the Federal

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    Although promising, these efforts c

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    War on Poverty program overseen by

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    Chapter &The Federal Role in Adult

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    somewhat contemporaneously, so it c

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    there is overlap. Both ED and the D

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    Chapter &The Federal Role in Adult

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    to 70 percent) or Head Start childr

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    Chapter 5-The Federal Role in Adult

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    Highly defined subcategories of new

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    set of service delivery issues: how

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    esponding to public concerns about

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    Chapter 5-The Federal Role in Adult

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    experimental funds to promote use o

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    must coordinate or consult; most fr

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    eral agencies to undertake joint ve

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    in Federal law by providing some in

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    Educational gains Support services

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    Advances in technology have “uppe

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    Computer-Based Technologies Chapter

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    Chapter 7-Technology Today: Practic

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    Chapter 7-Technology Today: Practic

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    Chapter 7-Technology Today: Practic

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    ecorders (VCRS), 27 and61 percent h

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    Many adults use computers in the LA

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    Chapter 7-Technology Today: Practic

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    specialized personnel to evaluate h

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    Chapter 7-Technology Today: Practic

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    — that provides information criti

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    Chapter 7-Technology Today: Practic

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    notes, sounds, graphics, movies, an

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    T oday’s literacy programs are un

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    verify the owner’s request, relay

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    charge, Dave’s mother refused to

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    Guatemala to marry Eduardo when she

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    Through her ESL, parenting, job pre

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    Chapter 8-Looking Ahead to a Future

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    Chapter 8-Looking Ahead to a Future

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    munications capabilities. Ultimatel

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    Issues of Access and Equity These t

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    Chapter 8-Looking Ahead to a Future

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    Boxes Appendix A: List of Boxes, Fi

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    Appendix A-List of Boxes, Figures,

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    Appendix B-Major Federal Adult Lite

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    R = required; E = encouraged; O = o

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    Appendix C-Key Coordination Provisi

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    only discs, new data cannot be stor

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    Tablet or graphics tablet: A comput

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    PBS PIC PLUS R&D SBIR SCANS SDA SEA

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    Appendix F—Workshop Participants,

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    Rob Foshay TRO barring, Inc. Michae

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    Dennis Poe U.S. Department of Healt

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    Appendix G: Contributing Sites Thro

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    Northwest Tri-County Intermediate U

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    ABE. See Adult basic education ACCE

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    technological applications, 120-121

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    National Workplace Literacy Partner

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    workplace literacy, 102, 117-119 Te

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