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News, Views, and Clues

March, 2003

small line Helping Local Programs Grow, March 21, 2003
small line  Ten Myths of Reading Instruction, March 21, 2003
small line America’s Literacy Directory—Help Please, March 20, 2003
small line House Markup Tomorrow--Webcast, March 19, 2003
small line Health Day Postponed
small line
Welfare and Educational Attainment, March 7, 2003
small line State Assessment Policy, Guidance, and Models, March 6, 2003
small lineCongressional Hearing--Report and Replay, March 6, 2003
small lineMore Details on the Upcoming Health Literacy Webcast, March 5, 2003
small lineHouse Hearings WebCast Tuesday, 3/4/03, 2pm EST, March 3, 2003


News, Views, and Clues

March 21, 2003

Helping Local Programs Grow

WIA gave us what we have been asking for; fewer regulations and more flexibility.  All we have to do is continually get better at what we do.  With this new found freedom, why don’t local programs change? 

This article from today’s Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast finds that program manager procrastinate waiting for 1) more buy-in from the staff, 2) more training for the staff, and/or 3) stronger staff relationships to develop.  Perhaps this article can give you some strategies to help your local programs become more action oriented.  Remember the Consortium’s Going to Scale Guide provides a structure and process that might help.  Here is the abstract and the website for the report.


Rarely do administrators consciously choose to procrastinate, reports Rick DuFour. More typically they delay and defer in the belief that there is one more prerequisite that must be fulfilled before they can begin to implement the concept under consideration. Three qualifications often used to justify inaction are the need for greater buy‑in, more training, and stronger relationships. DuFour is more convinced than ever that leaders of effective professional learning communities are action‑oriented. They turn aspirations into action and visions into reality. Not only do they act, they are unwilling to tolerate inaction. They recognize that learning always occurs in a context of taking action, and they value engagement and experience as the most effective of teachers. Even seemingly chaotic activity is preferred to orderly, passive inaction. The Chinese proverb advises that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The journey to improve a school will not truly begin until its leaders are willing to take that first step ‑‑ to move beyond discussion and study and insist that the school and those within it begin to act in new ways.



News, Views, and Clues

March 21, 2003

Ten Myths of Reading Instruction 

I found this report in Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast today.  It relates to teaching reading to children, but I think there are lessons to be learned for adult educators too.  The myths are provocative and could stimulate meaningful discussions regarding reading instruction and teacher preparation.  Here are some tidbits followed by the abstract and the web site for the full report.   

Tidbit #1.  Once again, we see that the right answer is the hard answer (see Myth #3); the solution for helping struggling readers to become successful readers is to cultivate a population of teachers who are very knowledgeable about how children learn to read, and who are adept at applying their understanding of reading acquisition to the assessment and instruction of individual children. (I imagine the same is true for adults.)

Tidbit #2.  A curriculum is too often confused with a recipe - creating proficient readers is not as simple as mixing ingredients in correct proportions. Teaching a complicated skill such as reading to a diverse group of students requires a great deal of flexibility and creativity on the part of the teacher.

Tidbit #3. The strength of the teacher plays a very large part in determining the reading success of a student. A strong teacher can help every one of her students develop advanced reading skills. A weak teacher can have the opposite effect. The importance of providing good professional development to engender a population of highly qualified, diagnostic reading teachers is paramount, and every child will benefit. It's not easy, but anybody who tells you there is an easier solution to the mounting problem of illiteracy is trying to sell a myth.

The Abstract and Website:


It has long been argued that learning to read, like learning to understand spoken language, is a natural phenomenon. It has often been suggested that children will learn to read if they are simply immersed in a literacy‑rich environment and allowed to develop literacy skills in their own way. This belief that learning to read is a natural process that comes from rich text experiences is surprisingly prevalent in education despite the fact that learning to read is about as natural as learning to juggle  blindfolded while riding a unicycle backwards. Simply put, learning to read is not only unnatural, it is just about the most unnatural thing humans do. In this article, Sebastian Wren details ten common myths of reading instruction.

Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.

News, Views, and Clues

March 20, 2003

 America’s Literacy Directory—Help Please

America’s Literacy Directory enables prospective students, businesses, and other partners in your state to locate the nearest adult education and literacy program.  NIFL, DOE, DOL, and Verizon are collaborating on the development.  

They need your help in critiquing the online data information form your local programs will fill out to add themselves to the directory.  If you prefer, please feel free to forward this request to staff, contractor, or practitioner.

Please respond by March 28 to Chuck Hunter, the ALD Project Manger, at

Attached you will find 1) a letter with the details  file:///N:/13 newsletter/2003/March/031903 State Director letter.doc and 2) the draft online data information form file:///N:/13 newsletter/2003/March/031903 Core Fields form 2.doc.

Thanks for your help.

Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.



News, Views, and Clues

March 19, 2003

 House Markup Tomorrow--Webcast

The House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness (our subcommittee) will markup the HR 1261 “Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act” (formerly WIA) tomorrow, Thursday, March 20, 2003 at 10:00 a.m. (EST).  The markup will be webcast at so feel free to tune in.

 Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help. 


News, Views, and Clues

March 19, 2003

Health Day Postponed


Earlier in the month I sent you a notice of a upcoming health literacy awareness event.  Please see the postponement notice below: 

Due to anticipated military events, we are postponing the Day of Understanding and associated events.  We expect that the events will be rescheduled for a date in early May and we will let you know as soon as a date is set. Additionally, you can visit and sign up to be notified as soon as a new date has been set for the event. Please let us know if you need more information in the meantime. We very much appreciate your continued interest in this important public health issue.

 Please refer additional questions to Courtney Davis at or (202) 828‑8878.

 Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.



News, Views, and Clues

March 7, 2003

Welfare and Educational Attainment

Even though it seems obvious, it is helpful to have research to support your arguments.  This study verifies that teenagers who live in welfare families are more likely to drop out of school.


No, that is absurd. But two researchers argue in the latest issue of the journal Demography that the average school‑age child who lives in a family receiving welfare doesn't go as far in school as a child living in an equally poor household supported by a paycheck. There was no relationship between welfare and educational attainment in the preschool years.

see also:‑WELF.html

Source:  Public Education Week

Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.



News, Views, and Clues
March 6, 2003

 State Assessment Policy, Guidance, and Models

 Do you have state assessment policy, guidance and/or models that you are willing to share with others? 

One of the State Staff Workgroups is working with the NIFL LINCs Assessment Special Collection to add State assessment policy statements, guidance, and models to that web site and link it to ours.  Once these resources are up, you will have some examples as references for reviewing and revising your assessment resources.

Please send electronic copies of

1.      State Assessment Policy Statements,

2.      State Assessment Guidance, and/or

3.      State Assessment Models

to me ( with the “subject:  State Assessment Resources” and I will compile them and send them on to the workgroup.

Thank you for your help.  We will send you a note when we have the first round on the web.

Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.



News, Views, and Clues
March 6, 2003 

Congressional Hearing--Report and Replay

In case you missed the Webcast of the House Adult Education hearings on Tuesday, March 4, you have two resources.

  1. Below is a report on the hearing
  2. is the web site for the archived committee hearing webcast.  You can watch it there.





March 4, 2003


Alexa Marrero or Dave Schnittger (202) 225‑4527

Witnesses Emphasize Need for Literacy Education, Improved Results in

Preparing Workers for the 21st Century

Washington, D.C. ‑ The House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness

heard testimony today on the need for an increased emphasis on literacy and

other basic skills in adult education programs designed to provide workers

with the skills necessary to enter the workforce.  These adult education

programs, funded under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, are

critical in helping adults with low‑literacy and basic skill levels, as well

as those with limited English proficiency, and provide them with the tools

and training necessary to enter the 21st Century workforce. 

"Increasing the focus on strengthening skills in basic reading, math, and

English acquisition is an important first step for adults who need those

skills," said Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R‑CA), chairman of the 21st

Century Competitiveness Subcommittee.  "They are, after all, the gateway

skills to a better job and a more secure future."

Dr. Carol D'Amico, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education at

the U.S. Department of Education, testified on methods to improve

accountability for academic results while ensuring the flexibility necessary

to help adult education participants receive the services they need most.

"To meet the economic imperative of equipping our low literate and basic

skills deficient workers for the demands of the workplace and in order to

prepare residents with limited English proficiency for work and civic

participation, federal legislation must address the quality of the

educational services paid for with taxpayers' money," said D'Amico.  "The

federal government, as well as the states, must take a leadership stance in

better focusing and coordinating complementary resources to more effectively

enhance the literacy skills of Americans and provide better opportunities in

the labor market."

Beth Buehlmann, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center

for Workforce Preparation, echoed the need for a skilled workforce, saying

that, "In every industry sector, businesses large and small face many of the

same challenges, including recruiting, training, retaining and advancing

employees.  Business quality, productivity and profitability depend on

qualified workers who can perform on the job today and adapt to the new

demands of tomorrow.  Unfortunately, many American workers do not have the

basic skills required to excel in modern workplaces."

Ann‑Marie Panella, director of human resources for MCS Industries, Inc. in

Easton, Pennsylvania, discussed her experiences partnering with adult

education programs to help employees develop much‑needed skills, saying

that, "By addressing the educational needs of the workforce, we can move

away from manual production and bring more employees into the automated

computer age."  Providing basic skills is the fundamental first step toward

this goal, she noted.

Accountability measures in these programs will help ensure results for

workers seeking the basic skills necessary to enter the workforce.  Dr.

Randy Whitfield, associate vice president of academic and student services

for the North Carolina Community College System, stated that, "Besides

supporting the broad purposes of our programs, state directors also strongly

support accountability.  We not only worked closely with the Department of

Education to help develop accountability measures, but we also have worked

with them to strengthen these measures."

Workforce development, including programs to improve basic skills such as

reading, math, and English acquisition, are critical in the new,

knowledge‑driven economy.  Effective adult education programs will help

ensure America's workforce is prepared to meet the demands of the 21st


# # # # #

Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.



News, Views, and Clues
March 5, 2003

More Details on the Upcoming Health Literacy Webcast

Experts estimate that inadequate patient literacy skills increase national health-care costs by $75-100 billion per year.

The negative effects on the health of undereducated adults and their children are beyond cost estimates.

What an excellent opportunity to partner with your state and local medical associations and help them with their health literacy issues. 

Please pass on the announcement below to your local programs and encourage them to participate in this webcast.






9:00 am ‑ 3:00 pm at

Please join the Partnership for Clear Health Communication on March 20 for a webcast briefing on the issue of low health literacy, its impact on the nation's health, and an introduction of the first solution‑oriented program to tackle the problem head‑on.

The Partnership is convening in Washington DC to launch a national action agenda designed to raise awareness and advance the issue of low health literacy (the ability to read, understand and act on health information).

At this "National Day of Understanding," the Partnership will share the first solution set of patient‑based tools ‑ Ask Me 3, a new education program designed to promote communication between health care providers and patients.

Participation in the webcast is free and open to any interested parties.

To view the Webcast ‑ Technical Guidelines

To view the webcast log on to The webcast on (the site will be available on March 19).  The webcast will include live video from the briefing, PowerPoint slides, and a live text transcript.  To properly view the webcast, we recommend connecting to the Internet via a high‑speed connection; however, you will be able to view the webcast on a 56k modem as well.  You will also need Microsoft's Internet Explorer (version 5.0 or higher) as well as the Windows Media Player 6.4 or higher. Questions can be submitted via the webcast platform throughout the day. 

Suggestions for Local Execution

While the webcast can be viewed by individuals from their desktops, our recommendation is that organizations and individuals come together to view the webcast briefing in a group setting such as a conference room where the Webcast could be displayed via an LCD projector. While the webcast can be viewed by individuals from their desktops, our recommendation is that organizations and individuals come together to view the webcast briefing in a group setting. Should you be interested in implementing group participation at the local level, we have a number of suggestions, including:


·           Inviting your own local experts to speak after the webcast is complete

·           Organizing a healthcare provider roundtable to provide a local perspective on the issue

·           Inviting a local literacy group/health care group to join the webcast in your conference setting

·           Coordinating your own local Q & A session, perhaps during the breaks or after the webcast concludes 

Briefing Agenda

9:00 a.m. ‑ 12:15 p.m.    American Medical Association Foundation Briefing for

Media and Other Interested Gatekeepers and Opinion Leaders

An in‑depth overview of the scope and economic impact of low health literacy, patient perspectives, cultural competency issues, and the patient‑physician relationship. 

12:30 p.m. ‑ 2:00 p.m.                Presentation of the Partnership for Clear Health

Communication Action Agenda and Ask Me 3

Information about the Partnership's four‑pronged Action Agenda (education, solutions, research and advocacy) and the Ask Me 3 education program

 2:00 p.m. ‑ 3:00 p.m.                  Health Literacy Principles Training Session

A session designed for the media and other communications specialists with hands‑on support for applying approaches to clearer health communication. 

 Please check after March 19 for a more detailed agenda.

Additionally, for those who cannot participate live, an archived version will be available for viewing after the Day of Understanding.


Health literacy is the ability to read, understand and use basic medical instructions and information. Low health literacy can affect someone of any age, background or education level.  Studies show that:

·           In the United States, limited literacy skills are a stronger predictor of an individual's health status than age, income, employment status, education level, and racial or ethnic group.

·           The health of 90 million people in the U.S. may be at risk because of the difficulty some patients experience in understanding and acting upon health information.

The Partnership for Clear Health Communication is an unprecedented coalition of national organizations that are working together to promote awareness and solutions around the issue of low health literacy and its effect on health outcomes.

The primary function of the Partnership is to leverage the thinking and individual health literacy efforts of member organizations and to raise awareness around the scope and impact of low health literacy.  Additionally, the Partnership will provide knowledge and practical tools to health care providers, patients and caregivers that can help them bridge gaps in understanding, ultimately improving health outcomes.

For more information about the Day of Understanding, please contact Courtney Davis at  For technical information about the webcast, please contact Anne Reisinger at

Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.



News, Views, and Clues
March 3, 2003


House Hearings WebCast Tuesday, 3/4/03, 2pm EST

On Tuesday, March 4, 2003 at 2:00 pm EST the House Adult Education Reauthorization hearings--"Improving Adult Education for the 21st Century"-- will be webcast.  Check the house web site at, and find the committee hearing announcement heading (Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness Webcast) and click on the Webcast button to set up your computer to view it live. Your Chair, Dr. Randy Whitfield, will be testifying.

Speakers include:

Panel I

Dr. Carol D’Amico
Assistant Secretary
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, DC

Panel II

Dr. Randy Whitfield
Associate Vice President of Academic and Student Services
Basic Skills Department
North Carolina
Community College System
Raleigh, NC

Dr. Beth B. Buelhmann
Executive Director
Center for Workforce Preparation
Washington, DC

Ms. Anne Marie Panella
Director of Human Resources
MCS Industries, Inc
Easton, PA

Ms. Hermelinda Morales Herrera
Adult Education Participant
Aurora, CO

Keep up the good work.  Let me know when we can help.





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