The Year 1999 in Review
Volume 2: Chapter One
In the opening chapter to the Annual Review, David Speights gives an overview of major funding, policy and research initiatives in adult education during the year 1999. He begins with a review of funding initiatives at the federal level, including Clinton's budget proposal, Congressmen William Goodling's push for increased funds for Even Start, and other lobbying efforts aimed at greater expenditures for adult basic education. In addition, the author reports on other proposed legislation that, while affecting K-12 systems, also has an impact on adult education programs. At the state level, Speights notes the challenges encountered as states moved into implementation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. Among its elements, the act required states to develop plans that comprised student performance standards based on each state's history of services in education gains; success in post-secondary programs, job attainment and retention and advanced training programs; and completion of secondary education. Connected to the WIA's new accountability requirements, Speights notes the particular challenges posed by the National Reporting System and the need to track learners beyond participation in programs.
In addition to major policy initiatives of the year, Speights highlights significant research in adult basic education, including Hal Beder's review of outcomes and impact studies in adult education, Susam Imel's analysis of the design of adult basic education programs and her suggestions for changing their structure to attract and retain more adult learners, and Tom Sticht's survey of 81 practitioners in the US and Canada about metaphors and analogies to describe their roles as teachers. Finally, Speights notes key events during the year, including a meeting of literacy leaders convened by former Senator Paul Simon ("Literacy: Where do We go From Here?"), planning for the National Literacy Summit of February 2000 to set forth a new national literacy agenda, and the entrance of the adult learner organization, Voice for Adult Literacy United for Education (VALUE), into national dialogues on future directions for ABE. Speights concludes that despite positive movement forward, the ABE field remains plagued by inadequate resources and will require significant change in future years.