program includes an interactive game, animation, and audio; a section on media literacy helps students analyze tobacco advertisements; and a skill-building module includes video of situations in which actors are presented with tobacco and peer stories from older youths who have used or avoided tobacco. The effectiveness of this program is being examined in a controlled clinical trial of 270 children from 12 schools throughout the Massachusetts region representing diverse urban, suburban, and rural populations as well as socioeconomic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. Inflexxion® hopes to distribute this program to schools, community organizations associated with tobacco control, and pediatric practices.


Individuals were asked to provide information on their use of adult education programs to improve reading, writing, math, or English language skills in the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). Nearly half (46.8 percent) of those who reported using English language instruction took either a basic skills or English language adult education course. In addition, 11.3 percent of high school dropouts and 13.3 percent of high school graduates with NALS Levels 1 or 2 skills reported participation in basic skills classes. This suggests that adult education is an important resource, and may be particularly important to individuals with limited literacy or limited English proficiency.

The Context of the Adult Education System

A major source of support for American adult education programs in literacy is the U.S. adult basic education and literacy (ABEL) system. ABEL, founded through the 1998 Workforce Investment Act,6 receives $500 million in federal funds and $800 million in state funds annually. ABEL programs provide classes in topics that support health literacy including basic literacy and math skills, English language, and high school equivalence.

ABEL is administered by state agencies, usually education, labor, or employment departments, which in turn fund local service programs. Some ABEL programs also receive local governments or private support. ABEL administration, research, and information activities are carried out by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education,


The committee thanks John Comings, Ed.D., for his contributions to this section of the report.


Workforce Investment Act of 1998. P.L. 105-220, 1998 H.R. 1385, enacted on August 7, 1998, 112 Stat 936. Codified as: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794d.

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