Biographies - Teacher Certification and Credentialing in Adult Education - Adult Literacy Professional Development Discussion List

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Teacher Certification and Credentialing in Adult Education
June 20-24, 2011

Description | Guests | Resources | Biographies

Guests' Biographies


Gretchen BitterlinGretchen Bitterlin has 36 years experience in the field of adult level English as a Second Language. She has taught Citizenship, all levels of ESL, and family literacy through the San Diego Community College District since 1971. In 1979, she received her Master’s degree in TESOL from the University of Arizona. Since 1996, she has been the coordinator of the non-credit Continuing Education ESL program in addition to her teaching assignment. This job includes coordinating all activities funded under section 231 of the Adult Education and Literacy Act, such as the hiring of new instructors, staff development, curriculum development and program development. The program serves approximately 23,000 students a year at 6 different campuses. She has also been a regular workshop presenter at local, state and national conferences. From 1981 – 1997, she was a certified trainer for the ESL Teacher Institute which involved training and mentoring ESL teachers throughout the state of California. From 1995-1996, she was the President of CATESOL, an affiliate of TESOL. From 1997 – 2001, she chaired the TESOL task force on Adult Education Program Standards. The outcome of this project was the publication of Standards for Adult Education ESL Programs by TESOL in 2003. She is also the co-author of English for Adult Competency, published by Prentice Hall in 1981 and an author of Ventures, a new adult ESL series published by Cambridge University Press in 2007.


Miriam BurtMiriam Burt is Manager of the Center for Applied Linguistics’ (CAL) Adult ELL division and an adult English language learner (ELL) specialist with over 35 years of experience in adult and adult ESL education. At CAL, she provides technical assistance in person and online to practitioners, programs, and states working with adults learning English. Ms. Burt has expertise in the application of research to adult education program planning, curricula, assessments, and professional development, as well as extensive experience working directly with adult education practitioners, programs, state directors, and professional development experts. In addition, Ms. Burt works with Pennsylvania State University on the LINCS Workforce Competitiveness Resource Collection, and since 2008 she has been the moderator of the Adult English Language Acquisition (ELA) discussion list. From 2010 - present, she has been part of a special training project initiated by the LINCS Workforce Competitiveness Collection to provide extensive training in teaching reading to Arizona teachers working with ABE students, ELLs, and adult learners with learning disabilities. This reading institute is currently providing training to 45 teachers throughout a nine-month period both in person and online. In 2010 she was a member of an expert work group convened by the Center for the Advancement of Adult Learning and Literacy (CAAL) to discuss issues around credentialing for practitioners working with adults.

Through her work at CAL, Ms. Burt has authored or co-authored many publications on the topic of professional development for practitioners working with adults learning English. Some of these include the CAELA Guide for Adult ESL Trainers, Practitioner Toolkit: Working with Adult English Language Learners, Framework for Quality Professional Development for Practitioners Working with Adult English Language Learners, Managing Programs for Adults Learning English, and Professional Development for Adult ESL Practitioners: Building Capacity. In addition, she coordinated the development and editing of Adult ESL Credentialing and Certification (Crandall, Ingersoll, & Lopez, 2008).

Prior to coming to CAL in 1994, Ms. Burt worked in program administration: She directed a federally funded workplace literacy project for at the Food & Beverage Workers Union, Local 32 & Employers Benefits’ Fund in Washington, DC; she coordinated the adult ESL Program at the Arlington (VA) Education and Employment Program (REEP); and she was Deputy Director for adult ESL instruction at the State-Department-funded processing center for Southeast Asian refugees in the Philippines.


Forrest ChismanForrest Chisman I am a political scientist by training who has worked primarily on public policy and institutional development in a great many fields. I have been involved in adult education on and off since 1988. My primary interest in this field, as in others, has been on the structural components it needs to succeed. Of course, there are many of these. Some are well recognized and much discussed, but some fall “below the radar” of policymakers and practitioners. These are issues everyone knows are important, but that rarely receive the attention they deserve. In my work with CAAL, I have spent a great deal of time on the “high visibility” issues entailed in reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. At the same time, I have worked with CAAL’s President (Gail Spangenberg) to develop a series of activities on “below the radar issues,” aimed at defining them better, giving them greater visibility, and building support for addressing them. Over the last few years, this strand of CAAL’s work has included a series of high level roundtable meetings at which 15-20 leading authorities on various neglected topics have deliberated about the nature and dimensions of those topics, barriers to progress, strategies for overcoming those barriers, and possible next steps. I initially became interested in including certification and credentialing in this series because I have so often heard people outside the field criticize adult education as a “failed enterprise” on the grounds that it does not have a professionalized teaching force. This demonstrated for me that certification and credentialing, which is obviously an important structural issue in any area of education, has resonance beyond this field and deserves far closer scrutiny than it has received.


Lynda GinsburgLynda Ginsburg is the Senior Research Associate for Mathematics Education at the Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education at Rutgers University. Prior to this position, she was a Senior Researcher at the National Center on Adult Literacy (NCAL) at the University of Pennsylvania for 12 years, directing or contributing to a number of national research and professional development projects. She has taught math at the high school and community college levels as well as in adult education settings.

Her research interests include mathematics education for adult populations, intergenerational mathematics learning, and adult teacher professional learning. She has written numerous articles and papers and has presented this work at national and international conferences. She is currently involved in the current Adult Numeracy project of OVAE, Dept. of Education, and is also the Associate Director of a National Science Foundation project focused on deepening the mathematical content knowledge of middle school math teachers so that they can attain “highly qualified” status in New Jersey.

She has served on numerous national and regional advisory groups and is a founding member of the Adult Numeracy Network. Lynda received a Ph.D. in Urban Education/Mathematics Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Bob Hughes is an associate professor of adult education at Seattle University. Prior to this, he held academic positions as a community college faculty member and dean at two community colleges in the Seattle area, and as an associate professor of education at California State University Monterey Bay where he also directed one of four regional centers of a distance-learning-based, alternative teacher certification program within the California State University system. He was also previously employed as a Project Research Director and Director of Family Literacy for the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) in Massachusetts.

His current research and evaluation projects focus on college faculty development, effective instructional design practices, technology in education, Universal Design for Learning, and equity issues. These projects include the creation of a five-course certificate for newly hired community college faculty, the development of a high school completion program for English language learners, an evaluation of a project on career pathways for special needs adults, and an evaluation of a program that serves foster youth. He is in the planning stages of a study on the impact of using Universal Design for Learning in adult literacy instruction.

He has taught secondary and college students for over 30 years. He holds a doctorate in teaching, curriculum, and learning environments from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Cristine Smith I have been working in adult basic education and literacy professional development for over 20 years. I was the director of NCSALL’s five-year study of professional development; I have written articles about ABEL professional development for the journal; and I have been a proud member of the Association of Adult Literacy Professional Development network for over 10 years. I learned quite a bit about certification and credentialing by doing the CAAL paper (although it was not meant to be an exhaustive examination of the subject), including the research in K-12 on the relationship between teacher certification and student achievement. I am interested in all things relating to how to improve teacher quality for the benefit of adult students.


Facilitator: Jackie Taylor, Professional Development List Moderator, Literacy Information and Communication System.

Jackie Taylor is a Professional Development Specialist with experience designing, coordinating, facilitating, and evaluating online and face-to-face staff development to support practitioner-driven professional learning. Previously with the UT Center for Literacy Studies (2001-2007), she now works with clients at the state and national level.

Jackie moderates the Adult Literacy Professional Development Discussion List, sponsored by the Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) in partnership with the Association of Adult Literacy Professional Developers. Ms. Taylor began moderating the List at its inception in 2003, then with approximately 70 subscribers, and continues to support the List with 1,400 subscribed in 2011.

She also manages all aspects of technology and social media for the National Coalition for Literacy. She has been the professional development editor for ProLiteracy, managing development of self-paced and online facilitated courses, and led the development of ProLiteracy’s Literacy for Social Change Training Project in collaboration with a ProLiteracy team. Prior to her career in staff development, she taught GED for Bledsoe County Adult Education and was an environmental educator with Tennessee State Parks.

Jackie is incoming president-elect for the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE). She is pursuing her doctorate in collaborative learning at the University of Tennessee.


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