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NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:844] FW: Family literacy

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From: Marie Cora (
Date: Tue Jan 04 2005 - 12:40:49 EST

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:844] FW: Family literacy assessment
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I am forwarding this from Jeri Levesque.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2005 12:12 PM
Subject: Family literacy assessment


Thanks for the caveat regarding use of the TABE for ESL learners in
family literacy programs. The CASAS provides more valid information and
can help guage the impact of instruction on the real world needs/goals
of the learners. Our state funds a number of family literacy programs
for ESOL learners. I evaluated one in a metropolitan setting. It served
a diverse community of families including refugees from war torn
nations. The range of communication skills was profound. The CASAS
scores help define the class. Pre-test scores ranged from Beginning
Literacy/Pre-beginning Literacy ESL (score 169) to a high of
Professional Skills (245 - no post test). The mean pre test score of 185
indicates a class composed of High Beginning ESL suggesting very limited
English proficiency. Post-test scores increased to a minimum of Low
Beginning (180) to a high of Professional Skills (248). The mean
post-test score of 216 indicates the class increased English proficiency
to the High Intermediate ESL level. The scores demonstrate significant
overall class achievement for the ten adults who regularly attended the

When the program began, Intake data demonstrated the primary goal of
most learners was to learn enough English to secure steady employment
and housing. Many parents also wanted to insure school success for their
young children. The program was located in the elementary school where
school aged children attended and a preschool component served the
preschool children on site. Early results were a little confusing. As
CASAS scores increased people, especially men, left the program. Turns
out, their English language skills improved (oral) enough to get jobs.
Eventually the program had to adjust the schedule to accommodate working
adults. The instructor kept a balance between lessons on  English
speaking and learning to read and write in English. For some women, it
was their first time in a school setting. Others were professionals or
spouses of high level professionals recently immigrated to the country.

Our assessments included home literacy behaviors (literally none of the
families owned a book at the beginning of the program) and parental
involvement in schools (100% of the parents were actively engaged in
school activities). The most glaring findings of the evaluation echo
John Coming's study on adult education (MassINC, 2000), The need for
intensive educational services in the city outweighs the availability of
program with English as Second Language instruction. 

#1. There are a limited number of literacy programs and services
available for those who demonstrate limited English proficiency.
Currently, only 10 of the 79 City's Adult Education and Literacy (AEL)
programs have teachers who can instruct English as a Second Language
(ESL) population.  The ratio of roughly 1:8 ESL adults to programs
offering ESL does not correlate with total AEL enrollment of roughly 1:4
ratio of ESL to others. The City's AEL identifies 2,309 adults of the
8,689 enrolled as ESL students. The data suggest that 25% of the City's
AEL students are serviced by 12 % of the programs. Interestingly, the
only AE: programs that offer classes on Saturdays or Sundays are ESL
sites. Although this would seem to accommodate the variable work
schedules of adults, the data collected from the ESL family literacy
parents determined that no adults were willing to participate in weekend

#2. Adults who participated in the program made significant gains on the
CASAS after 100 hours of instruction.

#3. All parents who engaged in family literacy demonstrated parental
involvement in their children's education.

This and more from our formal (CASAS) and informal assessment data. In
response to a question you posed recently, there is no single instrument
that can adequately measure the impact of family literacy on the family
as a whole. Family literacy is a complex literacy sytem. Infants,
toddlers, school-aged, adolescents, and adults all have their own
bailiwick of cognitive, language, and early literacy assessment

Jeri Levesque, Ed.D.
State Evaluator, Missouri & Kentucky Even Start Family Literacy Programs

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