[AAACE-NLA] What changes adult literacy education?
maureenh at azcallateen.k12.az.us
Mon Oct 9 11:15:12 EDT 2006
To address one part of this discussion:
Here in Arizona, the Standards were developed by Arizona Adult
Educators, with support from the Department of Education, which provided
professional consultants and financial support (i.e. transportation,
meals). It was, and is, an intensive effort, and we are all very proud
of the results!
Basic Education Manager
From: aaace-nla-bounces at lists.literacytent.org
[mailto:aaace-nla-bounces at lists.literacytent.org] On Behalf Of David
Sent: Friday, October 06, 2006 8:18 PM
To: National Literacy Advocacy List sponsored by AAACE
Subject: Re: [AAACE-NLA] What changes adult literacy education?
This is a great question: What changes adult literacy education?
I agree with most of what you listed, but I think the field changes
at national, state and local levels.
At the national level, I have a couple of comments on your list of
The National Reporting System as we know it now came about with a lot
of participation from state adult education administrators in our
field. The impetus came from Congress, yes, but some adult education
and literacy state administrators were consulted in its design. I
think it is very likely better because of their participation than it
would otherwise have been. Of course, much still needs to be
improved. And it would be good if OVAE/DAEL held a few regional
forums around the country to solicit from teachers, administrators
and students their advice on how it could be improved.
Most important of all, Tom, the single biggest change at the national
level in adult literacy, in the last decade at least, the
Administration's attempt to cut federal adult literacy funding by
2/3, was prevented by the field. The field rose up with one loud
voice, heard from nearly every state, that persuaded Congress not to
accept the proposed cuts. That was the result of a crisis and
effective mobilization. Now -- if we could mobilize as effectively
sometime when we have a national opportunity to _increase_ funding,
and to build an effective system of adult education and literacy,
then we'd see some adult literacy education changes to "write home
At the state level, in Massachusetts, most of the dramatic changes of
the last two decades have come from the field, by which I mean the
Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) unit in the Department
of Education working together with adult literacy education
practitioners. For example, two important changes were: the
professional development system (SABES), and the rates system which
includes specific percentages of funding for counseling, professional
development, a program technology coordinator, an ADA Coordinator,
paid professional development time. Massachusetts' choices of
standardized tests came from an ACLS and practitioner task force. Our
program quality standards, and curriculum standards, too, came from
practitioner task forces. These, and other changes we have made,
most practitioners would agree, add up to better quality programs.
This is not to say that Massachusetts does not need or would not
welcome or benefit from other improvements, but to point out that the
changes have come from the field -- not from the Governors and not by
the legislature without urging from the field.
I don't know how the National Workplace Literacy program came into
being, but before it did, there was the state-funded Massachusetts
Workplace Literacy initiative, and it was created by some members of
our field in the Massachusetts Department of Employment and Training,
the Massachusetts Department of Education and the Massachusetts
Department of Labor, three administrators collaborating to meet a
need that they were aware of through their work as administrators and
as practitioners, one of whom had for many years been the director of
a community-based adult literacy program.
As I look at those who have led these changes in Massachusetts,
nearly all have been teachers and/or program administrators in Adult
Education and Literacy. I know this is not true in many states, but
in Massachusetts it has made a difference that some of these leaders,
when they were teachers and program administrators learned about --
and used -- participatory, bottom-up decision-making models.
In response to what Allan Quigley has suggested, that the field take
charge of adult literacy and make the changes that need to be made,
I wonder if Practitioner (Action) Research, for example in
Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., California, and in
other states where it has been or is being practiced has been
influential in building reflective, participatory, grounded leaders
in our field.
And I wonder if, like Massachusetts, there are other states where the
most dramatic changes have come from the field, not from outside.
David J. Rosen
djrosen at theworld.com
On Oct 6, 2006, at 2:50 PM, tsticht at znet.com wrote:
> Aaace-nla Colleagues: On the NIFL Professional Development list
> there is a
> discussion about action research as a means of professional
> development to
> change (improve?) adult literacy education. Allan Quigley has said
> that he
> thinks that this is a means of changing adult literacy from within.
> led me to wonder what has changed this field of practice and how
> much comes
> from within and how much from outside the field. Here are some
> things I
> thought of: Technology: Computers, Internet, Overhead Projectors &
> all of which came from outside the field, not within. Also, the
> Reporting System has brought about considerable change in the field
> in the
> U.S. and this results from acts of Congress with accountability
> coming from outside the field and makes extensive demands for
> testing which again is a technology coming from outside the field. The
> contemporary approaches to workplace literacy, stimulated by the
> Workplace Literacy Program came from outside the field. The Even Start
> program of family literacy came from Congress (Congressman Goodling)
> informed by statistics and ideas about the intergenerational
> transfer of
> literacy from parents to children that came (mostly) from outside the
> field. The current push for content standards came from the standards
> movement in education which was outside the field.
> Any ideas about how the field has been changed from within? Or just
> this might mean?
> Tom Sticht
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