NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1114] Re: Tom Sticht's c

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From: AWilder106@aol.com
Date: Wed Jun 22 2005 - 17:51:27 EDT


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I want to talk about definitions--thanks Debbie.

One point Tom made some posts ago (or maybe on another web site) was about the technology/format (what you will) of literacy  problems and presentation.  The difficulty  he pointed out was  the problem  of extracting information when the format was different, for example, a bus schedule.  This is a  literacy problem, not a reading problem--it is the  set-up for completion of a task:  understanding,extracting meaning, from a  bus schedule.  So the format can trip up a naive reader, and if they have trouble reading words, the difficulty is compounded.  Anyone who has trouble reading a guide for installing software knows what I mean.

5 terms to define, and we have gone around lots of time on these, I don't know that there is  much more  to say:

1)  literacy
2)  reading
3)  adult education
4)  proficiency
5)  measurement

In my mind, there is considerable overlap between literacy and reading--literate  has the root of "letter," and also suggests "to be educated."  I  take this last to mean some skill in understanding  a  topic through the mastery of terms, concepts, words, associated with that topic  (domain). Literate without reading skill?  Nope.

Reading I take to  mean skill in decoding, that is knowledge of  English (or other) spelling patterns and the ability to pronounce and "read" and understand words  up to say a  6th grade level.  This is where reading and literacy  may divide--there are lots of words that  the adult may  be able  to read easily which do  not fit into a domain, are in fact scattered all over the place in different domains.  And not all words are nouns and verbs--many are "function"  words that have to be mastered in the "reading" process.

Proficiency and measurement.  If I were judging the  proficiency of a person's use of software manuals (an art form), then I would measure that  proficiency by seeing the person follow the manual--or maybe  translate it into usable English (which would imply proficiency with the words and concepts).

"Reading" implies more general skills, like finding a core idea, knowing vocabulary, writing in full sentences, using quotation marks, etc.  I'd toss "inference" in there, too, and other skills associated with skilled reading.  

Various kinds of standardized tests  could be used to measure  just reading.  I  say that based on Art LaChance's observation on various lists that progressively higher TABE scores  correlated well with ability to pass the GED--so these are  basic reading skills and schooled skills.  I would put  in this domain (reading) the Wilson program, and some LVA materials, for example

"Adult Education" is too mushy a term to be able to define  well, though I use it myself as a catch all when I want to avoid more precise definitions.

Tom did interesting work which"translated"  grade  levels into FCE levels--I  hope I've got that right, Tom. Maybe not, time for review? 

EFF is kind of a hybrid, tosses in other elements.

Thanks for a great post, Debbie.

Andrea



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