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Youth in Adult Literacy Education Programs

Volume 1: Chapter Three

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In this chapter, Elisabeth Hayes discusses the growing number of youth enrolling in adult literacy education, with particular attention to youth ages sixteen and seventeen. Using data on adult literacy education programs, (comprising basic skills instruction through adult secondary education) school dropouts, and GED testing, Hayes reveals an overall trend toward greater youth enrollment in adult literacy education, although, as she points out, the extent of this trends varies across states and programs. Several factors might account for these trends. Among those suggested by Hayes are: an increase in the nation's youth population, the higher skill and educational expectations awaiting dropouts in the job market, educational reform efforts that have raised academic standards, GED testing and compulsory school attendance policies, welfare reform, and the availability and effectiveness of school-based alternatives for students who are not succeeding in traditional high schools.

In her discussion of youth in adult literacy programs, Hayes considers the impact of youth on these programs. She comments on the varied characteristics of youth and provides examples of program approaches to both separating youth and integrating them with adult learners. In addition, the author notes some of the changes in instruction, curriculum and staff development that are and are not being made to accommodate the particular needs of younger learners. Hayes concludes with suggestions for research into the reasons young dropouts are enrolling in adult education programs, the characteristics of these youth and what educational alternatives are available to them. Further, she recommends research into the effect of school reform on youth enrollment patterns and the outcomes for youth of participation in adult literacy programs. With respect to policy, Hayes notes the need for an increased allocation of funds to serve youth in adult education programs and calls for a greater consideration of the impact of K-12 policy on adult literacy education systems. Practitioners, she adds, must consider appropriate instructional, curricular and staff development changes and coordinate with school systems and social service agencies to better meet the needs of youth entering adult literacy programs.

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Contact Information

The Annual Review was published in October 1999.
The ISBN is 0-787-94741-5
Price: $37

To order The Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, click on to the Jossey-Bass Publishers web site
Or call Jossey-Bass Publishers toll free at (800) 956-7739.

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL