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Welcome by Editor

Welcome to Focus on Basics

Dear Readers,

Since September, 1997, researchers affiliated with the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) have been conducting studies on a variety of topics of concern to the field of adult literacy. I have described some of them in the column Focus on Research, which appears in each issue. The first results are now ready for the public.

In our cover article, John Tyler presents his research on the economic impact of the General Educational Development (GED) credential. Using a methodology new to GED-impact research, Tyler and his colleagues find that the GED has a substantial economic impact for young white GED holders whose scores hover near the passing line on the tests. That impact is not found for nonwhites. These findings are both encouraging and troubling.

Tyler has also been examining the process of passing the GED. Who passes the first time? How do pass rates change because of the retest option? Which tests are the biggest barriers to passing, and does that vary by gender or race? Tyler's preliminary findings are described in Focus on Research.

Thanks to this research, we know more about the patterns of who passes the GED and what impact it has on income. How do people prepare students for the tests? Anson Green, Jamie Barron Jones, and Cynthia Zengler share with us processes they went through to develop intake and instructional strategies that work.

The GED is a widely recognized credential, but many people outside of the field of adult literacy do not know that it is offered in French and Spanish as well as English. Anastasia Cotton and Bertha Cant?-Luj· provide us with a look at the Spanish GED program in DoŇ Ana County, New Mexico.

As you teach the GED, or pre-GED, or English for speakers of other languages, do you use materials drawn from the lives of your students, or do you have a favorite text that works for you? Do the learners in your program help set program policy and determine curriculum and materials? NCSALL researchers Victoria Purcell-Gates, Sophie Degener, and Erik Jacobson have developed a map' of practices along these two dimensions: the degree of relevance to the lives of learners of materials, and the degree of participation in class and program decision making held by learners. A report on their work begins on page 11.

We urge you to consider the research findings and their application to practice that we have presented in this issue. Contact us with your thoughts on the instructional and policy implications they raise.

On a different note, we were greatly saddened to learn that Michael Pritza, an ABE/GED instructor in the Gilmer Country Reading Program, Ellijay, Georgia, passed away on April 26th. Michael wrote about his experiences shifting from individualized instruction to classes and group discussion in the last issue of Focus on Basics. His contributions to the field and to his program are valued; he will be missed.


Barbara Garner