Reading and Writing Skills of ABE Transition Learners - Transitions to Post-secondary Education

Reading and Writing Skills of ABE Transition Learners
March 22-26, 2010

Discussion Description | Guest Participants | Suggested Readings | Summary

From March 22-26, the National Institute for Literacy (Institute) and World Education will present the second of four Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles (ASRP) special online discussions, “Reading and Writing Skills of ABE Transition Learners.”  These four ASRP discussions are presented in cooperation with the Institute’s LINCS Discussion Lists, and will be led by prominent researchers and practitioners who are also content experts.

In July 2009, the Institute and a team from World Education that included John Strucker, Steve Quann, Sally Waldron, and consultant Rosalind Davidson completed extensive revisions and updates to its web-based ASRP. In addition to providing useful information and free resources on reading assessment and reading profiles, the ASRP site offers a unique interactive feature that allows teachers to match their adult learners' test scores to research-based adult reading profiles. It also provides teachers with additional instructional suggestions based on those matches.


What are the reading and writing skills and strategies that Adult Basic Education (ABE) Transition learners need to be successful in college?  How do teachers decide which skills and strategies will be there focus and how should they teach those skills and strategies?  We invite you to join what we hope will be a practical and engaging discussion of how we can better prepare adult learners for the challenges of college-level reading and writing.  We expect this forum will be of interest to the range of practitioners who work with Transitionlearners – including those who teach in GED and Adult Secondary Education programs, those who teach in post-GED Transitions programs, and those who teach Developmental Education classes at community colleges.

Guests Participants: Lauren Capotosto, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Sally Gabb, Bristol Community College, and Cynthia Zafft, World Education.

Moderator:  Ellen Hewett, Director, LINCS Discussion List Moderator and National College Transition Network at World Education.

Guest Participant Biographies

Lauren Capotosto is a third year doctoral student at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She is currently preparing a meta-analysis examining the effects of reading strategy instruction on the reading achievement of college students enrolled in developmental reading courses. Capotosto has authored two Research-to-Practice briefs for the National College Transition Network: “Decoding and Fluency Problems of Poor College Readers” and “Working with Young Adults in College Transition Programs.”

Prior to graduate school, Capotosto taught various levels of adult basic education and was a literacy coordinator at a Boston-area community college. She has also served as instructor for an adult learning theory course for practitioners offered the System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES) in Massachusetts and presented numerous staff development workshops. Capotosto holds a master’s degree in literacy curriculum and instruction from Lesley University.

Sally S. Gabbis the Reading Skills Specialist and a developmental reading instructor at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts.  In this capacity she works with adolescent and adult students who need intensive support and instruction to succeed in their college reading and coursework, and she has developed materials to help ABE instructors integrate college reading and learning skills into their ABE curriculum.  Prior to this, she served for six years as the director of SABES Southeast, where her responsibilities included creating professional development opportunities and courses for ABE and ESL practitioners.

In the course of her extensive career, Gabb has taught all levels of adult literacy - beginning reading, intermediate reading, GED, and ESL.  She holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from Rhode Island College, with a focus on adolescent and adult developmental reading. 

Cynthia Zafft is the Senior Advisor for the National College Transition Network (NCTN) at World Education in Boston, where she is responsible identifying and documenting promising practices from the transition field.  She also serves as Curriculum Director for the Health Care Learning Network (HCLN) at World Education where her duties include writing and teaching online courses for adult learners preparing for health care careers.

Prior to founding the NCTN, Zafft directed several transition projects for students with disabilities and served as the Coordinator of Disability Services for the Wellesley campus of Massachusetts Bay Community College. In this role she participated in the student portfolio evaluation team responsible for assessing student progress in developmental reading and writing courses. Zafft is a registered nurse, and she is currently a doctoral student in Higher Education Administration at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where her dissertation topic is “College Readiness for Adults.”

Suggested Readings:

Participants in this discussion are also invited to visit the National Institute for Literacy’s Website, Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles (ASRP). Although the ASRP Website focuses primarily on adults enrolled in Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Adult Secondary Education (ASE), several of site’s research-based adult reader profiles are very similar to those of Transition students, especially Profile 1, Profile 2, and Profile 3. Each ASRP profile provides detailed descriptions of the strengths and needs in reading of learners in that profile, suggestions for instruction, and links to valuable resources for assessment and teaching.

Please note: We do not control and cannot guarantee the relevance, timeliness, or accuracy of the materials provided by other agencies or organizations via links off-site, nor do we endorse other agencies or organizations, their views, products or services.