Montana LINCS Update


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1.  MT ABLE Shoptalk:  Tuesday, 2/26 at 11


2.  Research Snippet:  Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, National Academy of Sciences, 2012


Literacy Instruction for Adults


Have you had a chance to look at the research that has been posted each week?  The last information posted from the Improving Adult Literacy Instruction document was about writing.  One of the themes expressed throughout the research was that of explicit instruction.  Providing direct instruction enhances a learner’s performance. 


However, the research does remind us that our learners come to us with diverse characteristics.  No wonder we encounter challenges as educators.  So what are some effective instructional practices to develop literacy?  Let’s see what the research suggests.  Much of the information has been taken from the Adult Education Program Survey.


The Adult Education Program Survey (AEPS; Tamassia et al., 2007) provides information on a nationally representative sample of adult education programs and enrolled learners during the 12-month period 2001-2002.

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 89


Here is an interesting snippet of information taken from the survey:


During this period, the median budget for a program was $199,000; with a median enrollment of 318 learners per program, the median expenditure per learner was $626.

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 89


How does your program compare to the national survey information?  Have you read at the statistics that were cited by Tom Sticht about the rise and decline of Adult Education and Literacy System? 


Just last week Dr. Steve Reder from Portland State University provided an interesting presentation at the regional LINCS meeting about the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning at .  In order to better understand the contribution of adult literacy programs to the learning and literacy development of adults, LSAL compares the experiences of two groups within the target population: adults who participate and do not participate in the formal programs.  Dr. Reder characterized programs as being similar to “busy intersections” which may focus on short term effects.  Programs need to understand the longer trajectory of their impact in order to make their case to legislators.  By using MABLE and comparing some of their data, Montana programs may be able to make some projections.


What is happening with goals and curriculum alignment?  The research shows the following:


There is not a simple alignment of learning goals with program type or location. For example, English language learners may be taught reading and writing skills in ESL classes in a workplace education setting or in a community college ABE program. Although the major goal of students in both settings may be to increase English language proficiency, the instructional aims will differ, with one focused on meeting specific job requirements and the other on developing more general literacy practices. Similarly, the goal of earning a GED certificate may be addressed in settings as diverse as prisons and volunteer library literacy programs.

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 90


Via the SIA process, Montana has been working hard at aligning resources first in math and now in reading.  Nothing happens overnight, does it?  So now the research harks back to reading.


According to these studies, lack of fluent decoding is a source of reading difficulty for a significant number of low-literate adults, especially below the eighth grade reading-level equivalent (Alamprese et al., 2011; Greenberg et al., 2011; Hock and Mellard, 2011; Sabatini et al., 2011).

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 92


Three studies have tested whether the reading component patterns of adults match similar models of reading developed with children (MacArthur et al., 2010a; Mellard, Fall, and Woods, 2010; Nanda, Greenberg, and Morris, 2010). These studies suggest that for adults with low literacy, the reading models were not similar. Specifically, low-literate adults appear to lack the fluent integration of word reading, language, and comprehension skills shown by young children who learned to read on a normative timetable. The comprehension skills of the low-literate adults were more similar to those of children with low reading skills than to typically developing child readers, in that they did not generate an integrated representation of the meaning of a passage by connecting words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs and making inferences using  information provided in the text and background knowledge …

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 93


Is your program serving these individuals?  If so, what are you doing to help them integrate reading, language, and comprehensions skills?


And then there is the following research about reading:


On average, learners participated in adult education programs for less than 100 hours over the course of a program year, according to the Adult Education Program Survey. Only about one-third of adults made reading gains equivalent to a grade level during the program year.

Reading is a complex skill, and research on the development of complex skills and expertise suggests that about 3,000 hours are required for mastery (Chi, Glaser, and Farr, 1988);

100 hours represent 3 percent of that amount, and so it is likely to be insufficient for learning for many adults, even if the goal is not expert mastery. Thus, one primary reason for limited progress may be that adults lack sufficient amounts of instruction and practice for improving skills.

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 94


Geesh, it does get back to persistence, doesn’t it?


It is not clear why some adults persist with literacy instruction and others do not. Sabatini et al. (2011) reported that those who persisted with a literacy intervention tended to be older, on average, with poorer basic reading skills … Adults report a wide range of factors that positively or negatively affect persistence in adult education, which include transportation, competing life demands, supportive relationships, and self-determination (Comings, 2009).


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 94


This year Montana programs are focusing on student persistence by trying different strategies for retention.  Is it working?  Do those strategies need to be different for each program?  Time will tell.  What we do know from Dr. Reder’s continued research is that programs may be having an impact over time.


Stay tuned:  Literacy Instructors and Technology

National Information

3.  Adult Literacy Research Center Webinar

Taken from LINCS Community

Introduction to the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy

Free Webinar Event: Thursday, March 7, 2013, 2:30 - 3:30 PM EST

In September of 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) awarded funding for a five-year research center for adult literacy. This center is dedicated to study adults who read between the third and eighth grade levels. Three major research projects will occur over the next 5 years focusing on exploring underlying cognitive and motivational processes that contribute to or impede reading development, testing the adequacy of commonly used reading related assessments with adult learners, and developing and evaluating a multi-component instructional program to help learners improve their reading and comprehension skills.

Learn more about the activities, goals and timelines in a national webinar to be held on Thursday, March 7th from 2:30-3:30 Eastern Time. The Principal Investigators of the Center will discuss their assessment battery and their approach toward developing and piloting a reading intervention for ABE Learners.

Please register at: Registration is limited!

(If clicking on the above link does not work, copy/paste the URL into your browser)

4.  Learning Styles Myth Busting

Taken from LINCS CommunityAdult English Language Learners

It is always interesting to see what new information is out there.  Take a look at the information below about Learning Styles and Brain Usage.  What do you think?  Have you read any of the new research?


Learning Styles and Classroom Achievement

Recently, I have been participating in EVO (Electronic Village Online), a virtual extension of the International TESOL conference. The session I am taking, Neuroscience in Education, led me to this interesting article I'd like to share.

It outlines some research findings in this area, and states, "...a comprehensive review commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science concluded that there's essentially no evidence that customizing instruction formats to match students' preferred learning styles leads to better achievement."

… You can explore the EVO session and all the readings through the wiki here.


10% Myth

… It's interesting to me how these myths perpetrate--I have been guilty of saying and believing the 10% myth myself! However, the author states:

"Contrary to popular belief, the entire brain is put to use—unused neurons die and unused circuits atrophy. Reports of neuroimaging research might perpetuate the myth by showing only a small number of areas "lighting up" in a brain scan, but those are just areas that have more than a base line level of activity; the dark regions aren't dormant or unused."


Chabris, D. and Simons, D. (2012). Using just 10% of your brain? think again. Retrieved from

Michelle Carson

5.  Program Management

Taken from LINCS Community:  Program Management

Many organizations are attempting to develop a performance management infrastructure to improve client outcomes and better allocate resources. However, there is little guidance on what this infrastructure should look like, how it can be developed and sustained over time, and how to overcome the challenges that occur while building evaluation capacity within an organization …


On February 7 the webinar, Making Performance Management Happen, took place.  The recording of the webinar is now available via the following link.

Gail Cope, Program Management SME

6.  Reading Resources

Taken from LINCS Community:  Reading and Writing

Beginning literacy reading materials


I would love to hear from teachers in this group (Reading and Writing) on their go-to reading materials for adults at beginning literacy levels. I like the stories on the Marshall Adult Education site (, but their 0.7 GLE stories are still too challenging for a couple adults we work with.


Three recommendations:

1.      One is to use language experience activities. Info about language experience activities


2.      Another is to take a look at Grass Roots Press. They have some very low level materials specifically for adults.  Grass Roots Press


3.      The other is to take a look at the Eureka! tradebooks database. The books listed in the database are picture books and young adult literature that has been reviewed for being appropriate for adults. The books in the database are available in your local public library.  Eureka! tradebooks


7.  Science Open Education Resources

Taken from LINCS Community:  Science

Resource #1


Open Education Resources: What's It Like Where You Live?


Click here:

This resource is a product of the Missouri Botanical Garden, designed for use by learners of all levels. It provides a comprehensive investigation of the six “Biomes of the World” (rainforest, tundra, taiga, desert, temperate, and grasslands), “Freshwater Ecosystems” (rivers/streams, ponds/lakes, wetlands), “Marine Ecosystems” (shorelines, temperate oceans, and tropical oceans), and “Plants of the World”. The activities are aligned with the National Geography Standards and National Science Education Standards. Each section contains a comprehensive look at flora, fauna, and physical processes with supporting graphs, charts, photographs, maps, animations, and illustrations.

Susan Cowles


More Resources

Science teaching colleagues,

I am interested in free, online, adult-oriented science and math teaching videos. (You can download a 21-page list of math instructional videos I put together, organized by math topic, and with an introduction about how to use them, from  )

Recently I watched a 2 ½ - minute YouTube video of how to envision our solar system, not as a flat, two-dimensional model where planets and their moons "rotate" in endlessly monotonous paths around the Sun, but illustrated in animated video as spiraling through space. For some, especially those who learned basic astronomy from outdated high school hard copy textbooks, this video is amazing news, and in any case it is an efficient and effective way to communicate a science concept.

TV411, produced by Education Development Center in New York, has a highly-polished, engaging, free, online video magazine format science series called "What's Cooking?" with a kitchen science theme.

I am adding a new section to the Literacy List Health and Science section that focuses on websites for adult learners that are based on videos.

David J. Rosen


P.S.  Remember -- if you are having trouble with the links in this email, go to the Email Archives at the top of the MTLINCS homepage at .  Also if you no longer wish to receive this mailing, please let me know!  Thanks!


Norene Peterson
Adult Education Center
415 N. 30th
Billings, MT 59101