[AAACE-NLA] Re: Profiles of the Adult Education Target Population
Cheryl.Keenan at ed.gov
Fri Jul 9 12:05:35 EDT 2004
In response to the publication of Profiles of the Adult Education Target Population, several recent postings have raised questions about how the target population should be defined. As director of DAEL, I would like to respond to those comments.
Section 203 of AEFLA defines adult education as services or instruction below the postsecondary level for individuals who are 16 and over, and who are not enrolled, or required to be enrolled, in secondary school. Eligible individuals must also "lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable them to function effectively in society, lack a high school diploma or equivalent, or be ". . .unable to speak, read, or write the English language."
However, census data do not include information on literacy skills. Nor can they be used to identify all individuals who do not speak, read, or write English, since they indicate only how well the individual speaks the language. Therefore, analysts working with census data generally define the target population as "individuals aged 16 years and over, who have not attained a high school diploma or equivalent and are not currently enrolled in school." This is definition used in the RTI report, as directed by DAEL. This is the same definition used in RTI's analyses of 1990 census data, which makes it easy for states to see how their target populations have changed over time. It is also the definition used for allocation of federal adult education funds (with the exclusion of adults 61 and over).
As the report points out, an additional 9.5 million individuals with ESL have completed high school but say they speak English less than "very well." Figure 1, Table 4, and Tables E-1 through E-3 all provide data for this population. Section 3 of the report provides comparable information for each state, for use by adult education administrators and others.
The definition used in these analyses was selected because it was the most appropriate for use with census data, to produce information useful to programs receiving federal funds administered by this office. It was not intended to suggest that other individuals could not qualify for adult education services on the basis of literacy or language skills.
We hope you will find the document useful.
Director, Division of Adult Education and Literacy
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
United States Department of Education
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