The nature of the work to be done will require partnerships among researchers, practitioners, curriculum developers, and administrators to systematically build the needed knowledge and tools and to identify and address barriers to implementation. Major employers, existing training and education organizations, faith-based groups, and other community groups will need to be enlisted to help in the effort. A number of organizations have been started by business and civic groups to promote literacy, especially “21st-century literacy,” but these organizations have, for the most part, been advocates for change rather than participants in effecting change. Just as government must play a role in sponsoring the needed research, providing program incentives, and monitoring progress, it also will be important for the business community to move from a role of advocacy alone to also providing input into literacy requirements, providing onsite learning opportunities, being accommodating of needed research on effectiveness, and helping to provide incentives to boost motivation to complete literacy programs. Substantial national leadership will be needed to sustain investment and strategic direction through periods of uncertainty and economic variability. Having an educated, literate workforce is essential to the preservation of the U.S. economy in the information age.

As with any field, the dissemination of knowledge and effective practice from research to policy makers, administrators, and instructors in the field of adult literacy is a subject of inquiry in its own right. The committee hopes that those with a mission to improve adult literacy will, as part of acting on the recommendations in this report, participate in the steps needed to identify and address the factors that will affect the conduct of the recommended research and the implementation of the findings into widespread practice.


program improvement. Federal funding for programs has remained relatively level since 2001, with an annual appropriation of about $560 million. An additional sum is provided annually for research, technical assistance, and other national leadership activities, which in 2010 were funded at 13.3 million, or .021 percent of the total $628.2 million adult education and family literacy budget (U.S. Department of Education, 2010).

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