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

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

10 I

10 I Adult Literacy and New Technologies: Tools for a Lifetime zations have expanded and there has been a slight shift away from school-based programs. Even so, much of the content is remarkably similar across the variety of sponsors. Adult basic education, general equivalency diploma (GED) preparation, and English as a second language (ESL) are among the most popular offerings, but interest is growing in family and workplace literacy. The availability of services to learners is not uniform, however; it is a function of where the learner lives and works, more than of what his or her needs are. Just as the definition of adult literacy is complicated by the multiple needs of learners at various points in their lives, so too is the web of services complicated by multiple funding sources, administering agencies, and service providers. While this diversity may have advantages, it makes it difficult to address critical but common issues that plague many programs. The lack of coherent referral among programs, problems with recruitment and retention, a high dependence on Adult literacy services have changed dramatically since the Federal Government’s 1930s efforts to supply books to Work Progress Administration employees. Today, government is entering into joint ventures with private industry to provide computerbased literacy programs to employees at work, like this one at General Electric’s Aircraft Engine Factory (right). volunteers and part-time teachers (and consequently high turnover of staff), and a lack of adequate tools to measure program effectiveness cut across all programs and providers. OTA finds that funding is a constant concern that affects all of the above. Many programs have waiting lists, especially for such popular services as ESL. For most programs, unstable and shortterm funding patterns make it difficult to plan, purchase necessary materials or equipment, or develop professional staffing ladders. Fragmentation of effort is another ongoing problem. At least seven Federal agencies, and often many more State offices, admin “ ister adult literacy programs; each has its own rules, reporting requirements, and funding channels. Some States and localities have sought to overcome fragmentation and make the most of limited resources by improving coordination among education, training, and social and employment services and eliminating duplication of effort.

Some have also encouraged partnerships across local communities that link schools, businesses, churches, libraries, or other institutions to increase the level of support and marshal every available resource. 9 Such efforts are not easily accomplished, however-programs need information on what is available in their communities so they can fill in gaps; they need help with administration and accounting; and they need long-term funding to overcome the high turnover of staff and learners. Key and critical resources in every program are the people who work with learners and manage programs. The dedication and involvement of staff-whether paid or volunteer, full or part time-are extraordinary in most cases. But the demands placed on staff are also extremely high, and turnover is persistent. Most programs rely on volunteers to carry a heavy burden of instruction— one-on-one tutoring is the most common instructional format-and the majority of paid teachers are part time. Specific training in teaching literacy for adults is limited. Volunteers, while dedicated, may not have the grounding necessary for effective teaching, diagnosing learning disabilities, and helping learners find critical auxiliary services. Even licensed teachers need more training since few are specialists in adult literacy. Furthermore, teachers, administrators, and volunteers would gain from professional standards, graduatelevel programs, certification guidelines, and career ladders similar to those found in other educational environments. Technology could help alleviate some of the problems of administration, fragmented service delivery, recruitment and retention of clients, and Chapter 1-Summary and Policy Options | 11 high turnover of staff and volunteers (see box l-C). Electronic databases could help maintain information, track funds, and match learners to support services. Programs could use telecommunications technology to train volunteers and staff and connect them with one another to share information and reduce isolation. And technology could help programs move their resources beyond their physical location to reach learners wherever they are. WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF FEDERAL EFFORTS? Since the founding of the Republic, the literacy of adult Americans has been an abiding Federal concern. Up until the mid- 1960s the Federal response was very limited. The passage of the Adult Education Act in 1%6 changed the Federal role, creating a categorical grant program for adult literacy and basic skills education. This act and subsequent legislative initiatives have helped build and define key features of the delivery system today. Legislation enacted since 1986 has expanded and transformed the Federal role in adult literacy, increasing appropriations, creating new programs, attempting to build capacity and coordination among existing programs, and assigning new literacy-related missions to programs with broader goals, such as welfare reform, immigration reform, and job training. The Federal Government currently spends at least $362 million for adult literacy and basic skills education, more than double the amount of 5 years ago. 10 Federal dollars have an important leveraging effect and are critical sources of sustenance for g The New York City Literacy Assistance Center and Baltimore Reads are two examples of how communities can pull together, build on existing educational capacity, involve businesses, bring in volunteers, and create entities that sustain these efforts by providing leadership, technkxd WiStiUIC$, and f~id support. 10 ~ ~=mative es- is fw ~m a ~qle~ ~o~ting of_ ~- on ~tit Ii-y and basic skills. Some impo-t programs--i.nchldixlg the Job Training Partnership Act Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training, State Legalimtion Impact Assistance Grants, Refugee Resettlement and Even Start-have been omitted because the data needed to make a reasonable estimate of expenditures on adult basic skills is not available. The $362 million was calcula~ by totaling appropriations for programs with identifiable adult education and litemcy obligations in 19 of the 29 “core” programs on which OZ4 focused. Almost 90 percent of this total comes from Department of Education programs. For more detail see ch 5 and app. B.

  • Page 1 and 2: Adult Literacy and New Technologies
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  • Page 23 and 24: many leaders in business, labor, an
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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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    400 350 300 250 20O ‘ >“1 \ I [

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    Bell Atlantic Black and Decker Stan

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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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    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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    — that provides information criti

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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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