What is the project about?
The project examines the various approaches to assessing learner progression in the adult literacy and essential skills field (LES). The project team included experienced practitioners and researchers in adult literacy and essential skills. Dr. Stephen Reder from Portland State University in Oregon contributed his expertise on research methodology and literacy assessment. The project produced a literature review; a report of findings from interviews with stakeholders in LES; and a report on considerations for policy development.
We conducted an extensive literature review and critically analyzed selected literature that revealed the complexities of both adult literacy and assessment. We also interviewed over fifty adult learners, practitioners, administrators, and funders throughout Alberta. From both the literature and the people we interviewed we learned that literacy is much more of a social practice than a set of decontextualized skills and that assessment is most informative when it’s authentic and relevant to the purpose and subject. This was common in both workforce and community-learning settings.
This project is funded by Alberta Human Services and Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education. It was completed in April 2014.
What is the goal?
Our primary goal is to assist the Alberta Government Tri-Ministries with the development of future directions, policies, and programming for literacy and essential skills. The secondary goal is to build capacity for various ways of understanding and conducting assessment in LES.
What can this project contribute to the adult literacy and essential skills field?
“The project provides an opportunity to critically reflect upon the foundation of our practice,” says Candace Witkowskyj, an Adult Literacy Research Institute (ALRI) project officer. “What is progress? Why do we measure this way? Who does it benefit? We must understand that perceptions about LES progress and assessment effect learners’ lives.”