Blog

The Effects of Adult Literacy on Children
Posted by Jennifer Vecchiarelli on November 30, 2018 in categoryFacts & ResearchcategoryAdvocacy
0 Comments

ProLiteracy Blog on the affects of parents' literacy on their children.

By Thomas Sticht, International Consultant in Adult Education (Ret.)

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a piece titled “Still Needed: Massive Injections of Adult Literacy Education to Improve Children's Reading Skills!” I noted that more than forty years of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data, from 1971 into 2015, indicated that there had been no improvement in reading scores for 17-year olds. 

I also noted that, “With hundreds of billions of federal dollars invested in Early Head Start, Head Start, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school special reading programs, over the last 40 years, we have consistently witnessed failures to improve the average reading scores of 17-year-olds, who are on the cusp of adulthood and, for millions of them, on the brink of parenthood. Meanwhile, expenditures for adult literacy education have been and still are trivial.”

Based on extensive research showing that investments in adult education could result in improved reading scores for both parents and their children (Sticht, 2010; 2011), I argued that perhaps with massive injections of adult literacy education in the Adult Education and Literacy System (AELS) of the United States, it might be possible to finally improve reading scores of children from their entry into school all the way up through their graduation from high school. 

Unfortunately, data now available indicate that instead of getting massive increases in literacy education for adults, the last decade from program year (PY) 2008-09 through PY 2017-18 has shown large decreases in both adult learner enrollments and in teaching personnel in the AELS. In PY 2008-09 there were 53,764 part-time teachers, 11,647 full-time teachers, and 26,688 unpaid volunteer teachers in the AELS—a total of 92,099 teachers who served some 2,400,247 adult learners. 

A decade later, in PY 2017-18, teaching staff had plummeted to 37,794 part-time, 9,761 full-time, and 12,257 unpaid volunteers for a total of 59,812 teachers in the AELS, a drop of some 35 percent over the decade, and they served 1,389,694 adult learners, 42 percent fewer than in PY2008-09. 

More than a trillion dollars of educational spending on children’s education in preschool and K-12 over the last forty years in the United States has not improved the reading achievement of 17-year-olds. As these young adults continue to age, millions of them are unable to read at levels needed to gain further education or self-sustainable and family-sustainable employment. Living in economically underserved neighborhoods (Chetty, et. al, 2018), suffering from the three D’s (dread, deprivation, dependency) they do not, and many cannot, invest their time, energy, and money in educational activities for their children. Parents without books in the home or the time, energy, and ability to read extensively with their children or visit libraries, go to museums, and meet with teachers, the children languish educationally. The cycle begins again. 

And so, at the end of 2018, I make the same plea that I did at the beginning of the year: We need to make massive injections of adult literacy education in our nation if we are to raise the reading achievement levels of high school graduates through the intergenerational transfer of literacy from parents to their children. We must remember that the real head start for children, starts with the heads of their parents!

References Available Online Using a Google Search

  • Chetty, R. (2018, September).The Opportunity Atlas: Mapping the Childhood Roots of Social Mobility. , Discussion Papers, U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies 5K028B, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233. 
  • Sticht, T. (2010, Fall). Educated Parents, Educated Children: Toward a Multiple Life Cycles Education Policy. Education Canada, 50.
  • Sticht, T. (2011, Fall). Getting It Right From The Start: The Case for Early Parenthood Education. American Educator, 35-39.


    References Available Online Using a Google Search
    Chetty, R. (2018, September).The Opportunity Atlas: Mapping the Childhood Roots of Social Mobility. , Discussion Papers, U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies 5K028B, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233. 
    Sticht, T. (2010, Fall). Educated Parents, Educated Children: Toward a Multiple Life Cycles Education Policy. Education Canada, 50.
    Sticht, T. (2011, Fall). Getting It Right From The Start: The Case for Early Parenthood Education. American Educator, 35-39.





No Comments


Add Comment

Categories

Related Posts

Subscribe to our Blog

Never miss a blog post! Sign up to receive daily, weekly, or monthly email blog notifications.

Sign Up

See the Latest Research

Steve Reder paper2

New research proves the correlation between obtaining literacy skills and the return on investment related to improving an adult’s life and future.

Download