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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On a continuing basis, CAAL addresses issues of high importance to adult education and literacy. Some of its projects are modest and short-term; others are major long-term initiatives designed to generate fundamentally new thinking and have lasting impact. As an independent catalyst, CAAL frequently tackles hot button topics that others cannot easily take on. Its work usually results in published reports, often followed by post-report discussion and other implementation activities.

Among CAAL’s special projects to date:

THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON ADULT LITERACY – a two-year study (July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2008) by a blue-ribbon panel of commissioners (click here for a commissioner listing and photos). Study Director: Cheryl King. Project Manager: Gail Spangenberg. Chairman: David Perdue, former Chairman and CEO of Dollar General Corporation. David Beré, president of Dollar General, served briefly as interim chair : The Dollar General Corporation ($1 million), Harold W. McGraw, Jr., the Ford Foundation, and The Joyce Foundation. Click here for detailed information on the Commission’s activities and outcomes. The Commission contracted several research papers and policy briefs to help inform its deliberations. Most are available from the CAAL website (click here for Publications page, numbered series NC).

Gail Spangenberg, David Beré, Cheryl King
Photo by Jeffrey Neira

Commissioners, August 20 Meeting
Photo by Jeffrey Neira

ADULT ESL IN SELECTED COMMUNITY COLLEGES – a two-and-a-half-year study (October 2004 to February 2007) of a group of community college ESL-literacy programs, chosen from a national selection process in which exemplary programs were nominated by a team of experts based on CAAL study criteria. Study Director and Research Director: Forrest Chisman of CAAL) and JoAnn Crandall of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, respectively. Funding: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, supplemented by the Ford Foundation, Dollar General Corporation, and The McGraw-Hill Companies. Final report published as: PASSING THE TORCH: Strategies for Innovation in Community College ESL.

Two related projects have been undertaken to build on this main study:

(1) A more detailed analysis and profiling of the five colleges at the center of the Adult ESL study – by Elizabeth Zachry & Emily Dibble (Bunker Hill Community College), Sharon Seymour (City College of San Francisco), Suzanne Liebman (Lake County Community College, IL), Sandy Ares and Beth Larson (Seminole Community College, FL), and Pamela Ferguson (Yakima Valley Community College, WA). Report published as: TORCHLIGHTS IN ESL: Five Community College Profiles. [June 2007]

(2) A longitudinal study of noncredit and credit ESL student enrollees at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) in terms of their rates of transition and other gains – by Steven Spurling and Sharon Seymour of CCSF and Forrest P. Chisman of CAAL. This 221-page study is a seminal effort to track a cohort of more than 44,000 ESL students at CCSF who first enrolled in ESL programs there in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Report published as: PATHWAYS & OUTCOMES: Tracking ESL Student Performance. [January 2008]

TRANSITIONS: LINKAGES BETWEEN ADULT EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES – a two-year task force study (January 2003-February 2005) of transitions from adult education to community colleges and of the community college role in adult education. Study Director: Forrest P. Chisman (CAAL). Task Force Chairman: Byron M. McClenney (President of Borough of Manhattan Community College, Director of the Ford Foundation Bridges program). Funding: the Ford Foundation, Verizon, Inc., the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Nellie-Mae Foundation, Household International, and Harold W. McGraw, Jr. In addition to Drs. Chisman and McClenney, the Task Force was comprised of Bob Bickerton (MA State Department of Education), Hunter Boylan (National Center for Developmental Education), JoAnn Crandall (University of Maryland – Baltimore County), Gerardo de los Santos (League for Innovation in Community Colleges), Sarah Hawker (Illinois Community College Board), Lennox McLendon (NAEPDC), Patricia Rickard (CASAS), Gail Spangenberg (CAAL), and Sharlene Walker (OR Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development). Final report issued as TO ENSURE AMERICA’S FUTURE: BUILDING A NATIONAL OPPORTUNITY SYSTEM FOR ADULTS [February 2005, 102 pp.]


Task Force (left to right): Lennox McLendon, JoAnn Crandall, Sarah Hawker, Byron McClenney, Patricia Rickard, Forrest Chisman, Gail Spangenberg, Bob Bickerton, Hunter Boylan, Sharlene Walker. Missing from photo: Gerardo de los Santos
Photo by Steve Fenn


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