Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy
1221 Avenue of the Americas - 44th Floor
New York, NY 10020
Phone 212-512-2362 ... Fax 212-512-2610



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National Commission on
Adult Literacy

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A Message From CAAL's President & Founder

"Adult literacy is an important adult education goal in its own right. Solid literacy skills--which millions of adult Americans lack--are essential for effective participation in our democracy, in the workplace, and in community and family life. More than 10 years ago the National Literacy Act was passed. Some 20 years ago a bold national public awareness campaign brought mass attention to the issue. Important advances have been made on many fronts since then, but despite progress the field has begun to slip back into the shadows as legislative and political winds shift and as leadership groups struggle to redefine their roles in a changed and changing environment.

"Most of the problems we began to tackle 10-20 years ago are still with us: not enough of the right research...poor translation into practice of what we know from research we have done...too few financial resources...enormous professionalization needs (such as legitimizing the field through proper reward structures and training)...failure to fully understand that the interventions appropriate for working with adult basic skills learners are different from those suitable for K-12. Furthermore, new challenges have emerged to make the mix even more complex: increases in the immigrant population needing help with their basic skills...increases in older workers...issues of poverty and racism as they relate to possession of literacy skills and provision of increase in high school drop-out rates which adds to the pool of adults needing basic skills help...definitional confusions...recent retreats from competency-based learning and open admissions...and the increased use of inappropriate standards and accountability measures.

"The time is right for an independent presence and program that can operate unconstrained by current vested interests. There is great need for new perspectives and approaches to attract the attention of CEO's, educators, governors, state and federal legislators, and philanthropists, most of whom are presently too little vested or interested."


Copyright 2013