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The California Reading Association

     Dedicated to Literacy for Over Fifty Years

The California Reading Association

Dedicated to Literacy for Over Fifty Years

The California
Reading Association

Dedicated to Literacy for Over Fifty Years

ADULT LITERACY

During the past several decades, the definition of the term “reading” has evolved. A shift in usage is the result of our recognition that these skills develop as a lifelong process. That is, one that begins at birth and continues through an individual’s life. The more broadly defined term, “literacy”, replaces the term “reading.” This shift heightens the public’s awareness that today’s consumer, citizen, and employee must be able to function in a variety of situations that requires advanced literacy skills.

In the United States today, large numbers of adults do not possess literacy skills sufficiently advanced to function productively. Estimates vary from between 20 and 30 million, with a significant portion of these adults living in California. To date, these numbers have changed minimally.  A sense of urgency resulted in the development of programs throughout the state to meet their needs. These programs were often the result of collaborative efforts between educators and businesses and are located at sites other than the traditional classroom.

The partnerships, formed to meet these adults’ needs, have presented particular challenges. For instance, the initial phases of many programs may have been developed by those knowledgeable in reading research and methods. Currently, many of the programs rely almost exclusively on volunteers and others with a minimal background in reading. In addition, the reading material being used in some programs is the same material used with younger children.

To be effective, these programs must incorporate the latest research regarding how adults learn. This includes training teachers and tutors on instructional strategies effective for adults, and identifying a variety of instructional materials and resources appropriate for the adult learner. We also must examine the assumptions on how we approach the challenge of helping adults develop literacy skills.

Because ability to read and write is a universal need in modern American society and a significant number of Californian adults do not possess basic literacy skills, the California Reading Association joins the International Reading Association urging local councils to:

By working through awareness and collaboration activities and by providing technical assistance, the California Reading Association and its local councils accept the challenge for addressing the literacy needs of adults in California.

 

Adopted November 1991                                                       Amended January 2003

 

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