Scaling Up and Moving In: Connecting social practices views to policies and programs in adult education

Stephen Reder


The social practices framework has had a major impact on adult literacy and numeracy research over the past quarter century in the US, the UK and other countries. To date, the social practices view has had far less influence on the development of policies and programs in adult literacy and numeracy education. To help this happen, new kinds of assessment tools aligned with the social practices framework are needed to support appropriate changes in curriculum design, learner assessment and program evaluation.
In this article research is presented that illustrates how measures of adults’ engagement in literacy and numeracy practices can be used in conjunction with well-entrenched proficiency measures to provide a richer quantitative framework for adult literacy and numeracy development. Longitudinal data about learners indicate that adult education programs are more closely aligned with practice engagement measures than with proficiency measures. Program participation leads to increased practice engagement that, over time, leads to the very gains in proficiency currently valued by policy makers.

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