President George W. Bush and the Secretary of Education made reading and rigorous scientific research priorities in educational reform. These priorities are part of the Department of Education's Strategic Plan. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education support these priorities by funding the Adult Literacy Research Network (background information).
Research Funded: New Adult Literacy Research Network
In September 2002, six research awards were made to the institutions and principal investigators listed below. These studies will design, develop, implement and study the effectiveness of adult literacy interventions for low literate adults, including the role of decoding, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension instruction in adult literacy and explicitness of instruction. All six projects employ experimental or quasi-experimental designs, and at least four of these use combined quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Over the next five years, these research teams will screen nearly 73,000 adults with low literacy skills in order to identify the more than 3,800 research participants for these studies. It is estimated that more than 60% of those taking part in the studies will be minorities; most studies will have from 30-60% African American and from 20-50% Hispanic or Latino participants, many of whom are not native speakers of English. The investigators will be conducting this research in more than 80 sites in 16 different states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.
The principal investigators, those individuals responsible for the scientific direction of the research projects, met in November in Washington, DC to establish a research network. At their first meeting, these researchers discussed what common measures and methods might be used across studies. These investigators will establish cross-project collaborations that should enhance each project's research productivity and enable the group to collectively provide convergent data to inform instructional practice in adult literacy. These projects should contribute significantly to major gap areas in adult literacy research.
Principal Investigators, Institutions, and Abstracts of Funded Grants
- Daphne Greenberg, Georgia State University
Research on Reading Instruction for Low Literate Adults
- Susan Levy, University of Illinois
Testing Impact of Health Literacy in Adult Literacy and Integrated Family Approach Programs
- Daryl Mellard, University of Kansas - Lawrence
Improving Literacy Instruction for Adults
- John Sabatini, Educational Testing Services
Relative Effectiveness of Reading Programs for Adults
- Frank Wood, Wake Forest University of the Health Sciences
Young Adult Literacy Problems: Prevalence and Treatment
- Charles McArthur, University of Delaware
Building a Knowledge Base for Teaching Adult Decoding