“One Day I Will Make It”: A Study of Adult Student Persistence in Library Literacy Programs

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Whether in the context of work, parenting, or civic responsibility, strong literacy and communication skills are more essential than ever to realizing one’s full potential in America. Many people who did not acquire these skills while growing up look to adult education programs for instruction in literacy, English language fluency, or other types of basic skills. Research shows, however, that adult students often do not participate in such programs long enough to reap substantial learning gains. Many quickly dropout or attend education activities only sporadically, making little learning progress.

Research suggests that students in adult literacy programs participate an average of 70 hours in a 12-month period; yet 100 to 150 hours of participation are required to improve literacy by one grade level. In recent years, concerns about low levels of persistence in adult education have become a major policy and program issue as federal funding has been made increasingly contingent on programs’ abilities to demonstrate improvements in their students’ achievement.

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