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The Year 2002 in Review

Volume 5: Chapter One
Thomas G. Sticht

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In Chapter One, Thomas Sticht provides an overview of the major issues and events of 2002, a year that marked the 35th since President Johnson signed the Adult Education Act in 1967. Sticht begins with a discussion of three major activities of the Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL) of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). First he presents results from the first report on the use of the National Reporting System, which gathered accountability data from the states, and notes important trends in performance data, funding, and enrollment. Second, he highlights two of the six goals included in the DOE’s Strategic Plan for 2002-2007, released in 2002. These goals pertain to the transformation of the field of education into an “evidence-based field” and the enhancement of the quality of and access to postsecondary and adult education. Third, he notes federal funding trends for the adult education system and related program areas.

Sticht next notes several topics of special interest: Among these, he includes important events related to adult reading research and instruction, including the release of two reports that reviewed research on alphabetics (decoding), fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and computer technology, and new funding made available for research on adult reading processes and instruction. In addition, he notes the release of a report by the National Academy of Science’s Board of Testing and Assessment on the challenges of using performance assessments for ABE/ESOL. Sticht also notes a heightened interest in and several activities related to issues of race, ethnicity, and racism in adult education. He points out the absence of information on progress on the National Literacy Summit 2000’s Action Agenda and the need for stronger advocacy at the national level. Sticht acknowledges that the adult education and literacy system’s 35 years of the growth and development are a cause for celebration. But he also recognizes the need for additional funding to bring about significant changes and improvements to the field, an even more significant challenge, given recent budget deficits and other economic trends.

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