Today I read an article about this years Educational Testing Service’s symposium titled “Advancing Learning for Our Diverse Adult Population.” I’m always excited to see articles that discuss the problems I see everyday because I hope the awareness of these problems will increase. The article discussed the current literacy problems in American Adults by explaining that a recent study of American adult literacy from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that “about half of adults performed below the level needed to navigate today’s complex society.” The article discussed the problems this condition presents to the economy and how to improve adult education.
A lot of the article focused on Adult’s going back to college or why they choose not to do so. I thought it was interesting because the article discussed the benefits of developing a different model for obtaining college degrees for adult learners. Dr. Thomas Bailey of Columbia University discussed the problems Adults face when going back to college by saying: “The traditional associate’s degree doesn’t fit very well for adult students because many enter with weak academic skills, have less time and incentive to invest in general education courses, have difficulties adjusting to traditional schedules, and state funding policies can work against them since it’s often influenced by the traditional college student model.” Bailey offered this solution for Adult education: “Educational programs must be tailored to the specific needs of working adults but have not been in the past… At community colleges, adults can acquire the skills and credentials they need for the workforce and new jobs, so we need to change how adults get their credentials outside the traditional model… Adult education programs need to be flexible and training-focused and include certificates as well as non-credit instruction.” I think this is a good idea. If I was trying to go back to school as an adult with children and was trying to provide for that family as well I would be frustrated taking General Education classes that didn’t directly apply to what I was trying to accomplish by attending college. Adults usually have a better idea of what they want to do with their life and career then young adults, thus the necessity to explore many fields of knowledge may be extraneous. I think it would be beneficial to create a program for adult’s that is more specific and training based.
But there are also needs to make improvements in Adult Literacy for the 50% of adults that struggle with literacy in order for them to succeed in obtaining college degree’s regardless of the requirements. I’m always impressed by the people who call in wanting to open an Adult Literacy Center. I also realized the need for a quality adult reading program the other day when reading the comments on this blog titled, The Best Websites to Help Beginning Readers. There were multiple comments on this blog post from readers who wanted a list more catered to adult reading programs. I added a comment with a link to our website but its disheartening to know there are so many people who could benefit from our program if they only knew about it. The other day our ESL specialist was reading a forum on reading programs and was frustrated that people weren’t talking about us. She couldn’t join the conversation because her comments were declined since she was writing about the company she works for but out of frustration she said: “I don’t even want to talk about us because of business; I just want people to know about us because we could help them!” It’s hard to know you could be helping so many people. If they only knew… If you are passionate about literacy, pass this article along or link to it.
Watch this video of one adult who learned to read with our program: