Sunday, January 26, 2014

Literacy: Spanning the U.S.

Literacy: Spanning the U.S.

20 percent of Highlands adults are illiterate
Highlands Today: 1.15.2014 by Gary Pinnell

Are you more literate than a third grader? Thirteen percent of Americans may not be.

"There are currently more than 30 million adults in the United States whose ability to read, write, and do basic math is at or below the level of the average third grader," said a Dec. 11 Remapping Debate web story.

"I would agree," said Sylvia Turner, director of South Florida State College's Adult Education Department, "based on what I see, through the students who come to us, who don't know how to do reading and writing or math."

Literacy isn't just the ability to read basic words. The National Assessment of AdultLiteracy measures the skill to search, comprehend and read continuous texts; to use payroll forms, job applications, transportation schedules, maps, tables and food labels; and the proficiency to balance a checkbook, figure a waiter's tip, or complete an order form.

Eleven million Americans are non-literate in English, 7 million couldn't answer test questions, 4 million couldn't take the NAAL because of language barriers.

Today's digital society presents ever-larger challenges.

"The GED is comprised of more and more advanced math," said Turner. The General Education Development test includes measurements, geometry, data analysis, statistics, probability, algebra and patterns.

Eighteen percent of Highlands County's 80,000 adults lack basic literacy skills, according to the Florida Literacy Coalition's 2003 assessment. That's 2 percent better than the rest of the Sunshine State. In 13 of Florida's counties, 20 percent or more lack skills, according to the FLC's 2003 report "Getting Started in Adult Literacy."

Those are the most current statistics available from the Florida Literacy Coalition in Orlando, Turner said. READ MORE !

SOAR! literacy group to close doors Jan. 31
Salem Leader: 1.17.2014 by Marcia Walker

It looks like it's all over for SOAR!, the local organization with a main focus of helping people age 18 and over improve their reading skills in preparation for taking the high school equivalency exam.

Board members have crunched the numbers and know there isn't enough money to keep the program going. Expenses include rent, materials and salary for a part-time director.

Plans are to close the organization as of Jan. 31. Some $25,000 is needed to keep the program going for a year; $6,000 would carry it to March and its first fundraiser, a chili cook-off.

It's a decision that rankles Alice Nevels, both a board member and a tutor as well as a retired educator. Nevels pointed out that the community is losing a valuable resource, both the program and the part-time director, Erica Schmidt. Once gone, there's no getting either back, she said. Schmidt works part-time and much of her time is spent raising money; time Nevels said would be better spent working with students.

"I feel this is a program that should be using her more, not closing down and sending her packing," Nevels said. "SOAR! should be benefiting from this resource. Once gone, we won't get it back."

There is a program available to county residents that helps people prepare for the high school equivalency exam but students who end up in SOAR! don't qualify because most can't read at the required fifth-grade level. SOAR! tests them to determine their reading level then matches them with a trained, volunteer tutor who works with them one-on-one.

U.S. adult literacy stats
-14% of adults over 16 read at or below 5th grade level.
-75% of state prison inmates didn't complete high school or can be classified as low literate.
-The effects of low literacy cost the U.S. more than $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. Individuals at the lowest level of literacy have a higher rate of unemployment than the national average - 14.5% in 2011.  READ MORE !

Literacy Volunteers of Hamilton share wisdom
NJ.com: 1.09.2014 by Amanda Ippolito

According to Literacy Volunteers in Mercer County, there are about 60,000 adults in Mercer County reading at fifth-grade level or below.

The Hamilton-based nonprofit wants to change that.

The 36-year-old organization provides free, confidential services to adults in Mercer County hoping to improve their ability to read, write and speak English. It offers individual and group lessons for adults whose native language is English, and for English speakers of other languages.

There currently are about 140 active tutors and 165 students, and 85 adults waiting for help. Group classes are offered in conversational and computer skills.

There is “never a shortage of students, always a shortage of teachers,” program coordinator Victoria Golden said.

Tutors come from “very diverse backgrounds,” Golden said, and should have a high school diploma or its equivalent. They do not need education training, a college degree or foreign language knowledge.  READ MORE !

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