The Components of Numeracy

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To address the need to improve and expand numeracy instruction in adult basic education programs, this paper attempts to describe the complex nature of numeracy as it exists today. All stakeholders—including policymakers, program directors, educators, professional developers and curriculum designers—need a full understanding of numeracy to know how to provide adults with effective numeracy instruction.

While there are large-scale assessments, standards documents, and position papers, thus far, there has not been a field- and research-based synthesis of the components required for adults to be numerate, to act numerately, and to acquire numeracy skills. By components of adult numeracy, we mean those fundamental elements that are inherent in proficient numeracy practice. This paper attempts to identify and clarify the nature of the components that are specific to adult numeracy with the hope that such identification and clarification provides a vision that can guide instruction, contribute to the design of assessments, frame research, and inform policy.

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