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spring 2004 web forum readings

What Practitioners Say about Assessment by Betsy Alkenbrack 

From Research to Practice by Katrina Grieve

Letter from the UK, The Both...and And... of Everything by Margaret Herrington

What Can we Learn from Sweden?  An interview with Nayda Veeman

by Tannis Atkinson  

What Counts as Literacy Work?  by Nancy Jackson 

Book Review: Rethinking Assessment

by Tom Ciancone, Flora Hood and Joy Lehmann

Practitioners Write Effective Practice in Scotland - about the project
Download PDF: 124 kb - the report

Funding Matters - about the project - the report

How Funding Affects Workers - about the project - the report

from RiPAL

Alderson, Lucy and Diana Twiss (2003).

Literacy for Women on the Streets.

Vancouver: Capilano College/WISH.

Battell, Evelyn (2001).

Naming the Magic: Non-Academic Outcomes in Basic Literacy.

Victoria: Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Advanced Education.

Holt Begg, Fay (2002).

Adapting Writing to Read for adult literacy students: It worked for Bill. Will it work for Carol?

Edmonton: Learning at the Centre Press.

Park, Veronica (2000).

Why Don’t People Come? Some Reasons for Non-participation in Literacy Programs.

In M. Norton & G. Malicky (Eds.), Learning About Participatory Approaches in Adult Literacy Education. Six research in practice studies.

Edmonton: Learning at the Centre Press.

Pheasey, Andrea (2002).

What do literacy students think being literate is?

Edmonton: RiPAL Network/Learning at the Centre Press.

Steeves, Phyllis (2002).

From practice to theory and back again.

Edmonton: RiPAL Network/Learning at the Centre Press.

other Canadian online reports

Grieve, Katrina (2003).

Supporting Learning, Supporting Change

Ontario Literacy Coalition

Veeman, Nayda (2003)

Adult Literacy in Canada and Sweden: From Policy to Practice

Practitioners Write Effective Practice in Scotland
the project:

Funding Matters
the report:

How Funding Affects Workers
the report:

even more briefly noted
by Maria Moriarty

For a bracingly British take on issues of standard curricula, learner progress, assessment and accountability, visit the following sites:

RaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacy):

Literacy Trust:

Basic Skills Agency:

NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education):

and read these UK publications:

Brooks, G. et al. (2001).

Progress in Adult Literacy. Do Learners Learn? London:

The Basic Skills Agency.

This publication reports on research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in the United Kingdom. The study was commissioned by the Basic Skills Agency to investigate what progress adults enrolled in basic skills programs in England and Wales made, and the factors associated with that progress

The findings of the study indicated that adult literacy students made only small improvements in reading and relatively insignificant improvements in writing. The study associated progress with regular attendance and whether qualified teachers along with tutor helpers were available.

The findings of the study engendered considerable media coverage in England. The media particularly highlighted the relative paucity of learning gains and the need for qualified teachers in adult literacy programming. They cast a negative light on adult literacy programming.

In response to this report, Mary Hamilton (Professor of Adult Learning and Literacy, Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University) was asked by NIACE to review and respond to the report.

Hamilton, Mary (2001).

Commentary on the NFER Research Report Progress in Adult Literacy. London: NIACE.

In her response, Hamilton strongly challenged the research design, methodology and, consequently, the overall conclusions of the report. She suggested that the study be used as a pilot for a study with a more rigorous design.

The response provided by Hamilton underscores the need for caution in carrying out large-scale studies that seek to report broadly, particularly if such studies have a narrow skills-measurement focus. Such studies can, and often, are used to support policy, and do not necessarily provide an accurate account of adult literacy.  The response to the NFER report is a reminder of the efficacy of close collaboration between academic researchers and the adult literacy field in addressing and challenging prevailing notions of literacy deficits and reiterating the complexities of programming, assessment and measures in addressing and analyzing adult literacy issues.

A 2001 response to the response by Greg Brooks from the School of Education, University of Sheffield, (formerly NFER) can be found at


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