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Thirty-six million adults in the United States have low-literacy skills, reading at or below a third-grade level. (OECD, "Time for the U.S. to Reskill?: What the Survey of Adult Skills Says," OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing, 2013)

Forty-three percent of adults living in poverty have limited literacy skills. (National Institute for Literacy, "The State of Literacy in America: Estimates at the Local, State, and National Levels," 1998)

Historically, there has been little research to demonstrate the positive impact on adults, jobs, and future generations, as well as the return on investment that adult literacy skills programs realize. However, research conducted by Dr. Stephen Reder provides a new opportunity to demonstrate for stakeholders the positive outcomes that adult basic skills (ABS) programs can have on an individual’s life, career, and income.

Dr. Reder’s research examined the correlation between participation in adult basic skills programs and later increases in income, literacy levels, high school equivalency attainment, post-secondary education engagement, and civic participation/voting activity. The study findings showed a positive outcome for
individuals in four of these five areas:

1. individuals participating in an ABS program showed a dramatic increase in income over time, especially those participating for 100 or more hours
2. participants were more likely to go on to obtain a high school equivalency credential, especially those participating for 100 or more hours
3. program participants were more likely to pursue secondary education and received more credits than nonparticipants
4. program participants were more likely to develop improved literacy proficiency over time, especially those participating for 100 or more hours

This research provides a strong case for an increased investment in adults and adult education. These outcomes directly impact all Americans in that they contribute to a healthy economy, increase employment, reduce public assistance, and lower health care costs.
This paper will examine the research results and implications for a change in policy related to investment in adult literacy and education. The intent is to provide stakeholders of all types with the data needed to prove that support of ABS programs results in a strong return that impacts both the adult learner and society as a whole.

Over the years, we have built a collection of language learning tools that work in real world classrooms for educators and learners in many contexts: English, English as a Second Language - ESL, Adult Basic Education - ABE, Career and College Pathways, WIOA - Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, Adult Literacy, English Language Acquisition - ELA, or English as a Foreign Language - EFL.

From: THE CASE FOR INVESTMENT IN ADULT BASIC EDUCATION, Kevin Morgan, Dr. Peter Waite, Michele Diecuch; Publisher: PROLITERACY, March 2017


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