Literacy for the Twenty-First Century: Research, Policy, Practices, and the National Adult Literacy Survey

Literacy for the Twenty-First Century: Research, Policy, Practices, and the National Adult Literacy Survey

Literacy for the Twenty-First Century: Research, Policy, Practices, and the National Adult Literacy Survey

Literacy for the Twenty-First Century: Research, Policy, Practices, and the National Adult Literacy Survey

Synopsis

Describing in-depth empirical investigations of factors related to adults' literacy skills, Literacy for the 21st Century summarizes the National Adult Literacy Survey. Conducted in 1992, the NALS is the largest assessment ever conducted on adults' literacy skills and has significant implications for educational practices at the turn of the century.

Excerpt

Paul Simon

Most of our citizens do not have any idea what a huge problem simple reading and writing is for millions of our fellow adult citizens. Most academicians do not have a much better idea what a huge problem simple reading and writing is for millions of our fellow adult citizens. This book will help to put some meat on the bare bones of our understanding. Cecil Smith and the others who have contributed to this volume deserve our thanks. Illiteracy is an easy problem to overlook, but we overlook it ultimately at our peril.

I became interested in the problem of literacy when I served in the U.S. House of Representatives. I conducted "Open Office Hours" in communities throughout my district, at which people would come in one by one to ask my help on whatever their problems might be. When citizens wanted me to look at a veteran's problem or Social Security or some difficulty that involved the federal government, the person requesting help had to sign a consent form in order for me to look at the records. I discovered that people would say, with surprising frequency, "Is it ok if my wife signs this for me?" Or "Can my husband sign it?" It stunned me to see that people who looked like other citizens in terms of dress and demeanor could not perform so basic a function as signing their name. and sometimes the person involved would very carefully, very slowly, draw his or her name. I knew it was the only thing he or she could write.

At that time I chaired a subcommittee in the House and called a hearing on illiteracy, the first such hearing in the history of Congress. I asked . . .

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