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«DOCUMENT RESUME CE 067 203 ED 374 272 Shanahan, Timothy; And Others AUTHOR The Professionalization of the Teacher in Adult TITLE Literacy Education. ...»

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CE 067 203

ED 374 272

Shanahan, Timothy; And Others


The Professionalization of the Teacher in Adult


Literacy Education.

National Center on Adult Literacy, Philadelphia,



Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED),


Washington, DC.



Sep 94




NOTE 35p.

National Center on Adult Literacy, Publications, 3910


Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3111 (order no. TR94-11, $6; diskette order no. D-06, $7).

Research/Technical (143) Reports


MFOI/PCO2 Plus Postage.


Administrator Attitudes; Adult Basic Education;


*Adult Educators; *Adult Literacy; *Educational Attitudes; *Literacy Education; Professional Development; Teacher Attitudes; *Teacher Certification; *Teacher Education *Professionalization of Teaching



A study examined issues of teacher professionalization within adult literacy education. Relevant research and theory on professionalization were reviewed, the historical experiences of other professional fields were examined, data on state certification requirements for adult basic education (ABE) teachers were analyzed, officials from states having such requirements were interviewed, and focus group discussions and interviews were conducted with adult literacy teachers and program administrators in the Chicago area. It was concluded that the debate on professionalization is likely being impeded by the existence of the following unstated beliefs or premises regarding the nature of ABE: (1) the right of adults to education; (2) state responsibility for the education of adults; (3) the role of teachers in achieving/improving educational quality; (4) the effectiveness of teacher training; and (5) the existence of a body of knowledge relevant to adult literacy education. It was further concluded that the quality of the ABE teaching force will be improved only through close collaboration of practitioners, researchers, and policymakers and on their finding common ground on the five issues identified.

(The bibliography contains 46 references. Appended are three tables detailing state teacher preparation/certification requirements, states' teacher training expenditures, and the relationship between them.) (MN) ***********************************************************************

–  –  –

This work was supported by funding from the National Center on Adult Literacy at the University of Pennsylvania, which is part of the Education Research and Development Center Program (Grant No. RI 17Q0003) as administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.

in cooperation with the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.

The findings and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the position or policies of the National Center on Adult Literacy, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, or the U.S. Department of Education.


–  –  –

NCAL publications to date (continued) Sep 1993 Metacognitive Aspects of Adult Literacy Scott G. Paris & Andrea Parecki (TR93-09, 44 pages) Nov 1993 Teamwork and Literacy: Learning from a Skills-Poor Position Sylvia Hart-Landsberg & Steve Reder (TR93-06. 63 pages) Nov 1993 Motivations for Learning: Voices of Women Welfare Reform Participant Karen Wikelund (TR93-10, 54 pages) Nov 1993 Initiating Practitioner Inquiry: Adult Literacy Teachers, Tutors, and Administrators Research Their Practice Susan L. Lytle, Alisa Belzer, & Rebecca Reumann (TR93-1/, 69 pages) Nov 1993 Coalition Building for Adult Literacy: Historical and Organizational Perspectives Anabel P. Newman & Bernadette Lehman (TR93-13, 68 pages) Nov 1993 Effective Service Delivery in Adult Literacy Programs: A Policy Review and Recommendations Judith Ann Koloski (TR93-14. 46 pages) Dec 1993 Issues and Challenges in Adult Numeracy Iddo Gal (TR93-15, 62 pages) Dec 1993 Adult Literacy Training and the Integration of Human Services Elizabeth R. Reisner (TR93-16, 30 pages) Apr 1994 Measuring Gain in Adult Literacy Programs Richard L. Venezky, Page S. Bristow, & John P. Sabatini (TR93- 12, 24 pages) Apr 1994 Understanding Family Literacy: Conceptual Issues Facing the Field Vivian L. Gadsden (TR94-02, 32 pages) Apr 1994 Children, Parents, and Families: An Annotated Bibliography on Literacy Development In and Out of Program Settings Vivian L. Gadsden, Ludo C. P. Scheffer, & Joel Hardman (TR94-04, 84 pages) Jun 1994 Literacy Transfer: A Review of the Literature Larry Mikulecky, Peggy Albers, & Michele Peers (TR94-05, 21 pages) Jun 1994 Instruction and Assessment for Limited-English-Proficient Adult Learners Ronald W. Soldrzano (TR94-06, 33 pages) Jun 1994 Early Warning Signs of Functional Illiteracy: Predictors in Childhood and Adolescerce Nazli Baydar, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, & Frank F. Furstenberg (0P94-01, 13 pages) Jul 1994 Use It or Lose It? The Problem of Adult Literacy Skill Retention Daniel A. Wagner (TR94-07, 27 pages) Jul 1994 Technology: New Tools for Adult Literacy, Videoconference Participant Materials Joyce Harvey-Morgan, Chris Hopey, & Karl Rethemeyer (Eds.) (VC94-01, 58 pages) Sep 1994 Supply and Demand for Literacy Instruction in the United States Richard L. Venezky & Daniel A. Wagner (TR94 -10. 13 pages) Sep 1994 The Professionalization of the Teacher in Adult Literacy Education Timothy Shanahan, Maureen Meehan, & Stephen Mogge (TR94-11, 20 pages) Sep 1994 Abilities and Competencies in Adulthood: Life-Span Perspectives on Workplace Skills Jacqui Smith & Michael Marsiskc (TR94-12, 36 pages) Sep 1994 The Role of Literacy in the Wealth of Individuals and Nations Suc E. Berryman (TR94-13, 15 pages) Information on ordenng of NCAL pubbcattons may be addressed to Dtssemmation at NCAL.

Reviser September 12, 1994


Daniel A. Wagner, Director.

Richard L. Venezky, Co-Director for Research and Development Joyce Harvey-Morgan, Associate Director Vivian L. Gadsden, Associate Director Sandra K. Stewart, Manager of Dissemination Mary 0. Russell, Administrative Coordinator Janet Smith, Editor Karl Rethemeyer, Analyst/Technology


Maria Carlo, University of Pennsylvania Vivian L. Gadsden, University of Pennsylvania Id& Gal, University of Pennsylvania Joyce Harvey-Morgan, University of Pennsylvania Susan L. Lytle, University of Pennsylvania Larry Mikukcky, Indiana University Scott G. Paris, University of Michigan Laurel D. Puchner, University of Pennsylvania Stephen Reder, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory Karl Rethemeyer, University of Pennsylvania Regie Stiles, University of Pennsylvania Richard L. Venezky, University of Delaware Daniel A. Wagner, University of Pennsylvania


Carl Kaysen, Chair. NCAL National Advisory Panel, and David W. Skinner Chair of Political Economy.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Richard C. Anderson, Director. Center for the Study of Reading. University of Illinois Joan D. Baraloto, Director. Education and Family Initiatives. USA Today Jack Bowsher, Director of Education (ret.). IBM. Inc.

Jeanne Chall, Professor. Graduate School of Education, Harvard University Lillian Escobar-Haskins, Executive Director, Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs. Pennsylvania The Honorable William F. Goodling, U.S. Representative, Pennsylvania Luis Laosa, Principal Research Scientist. Research Department. Educational Testing Service Noreen Lopez, Director of Adult Education, Illinois Board of Education Geraldine Novelo, Deputy Director fret.). Instituto Nacional para la Educacion de los Adultos, Mexico Van D. Ooms, Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Committee for Economic Development Bernard P. Reca, Vice President. Bell Atlantic Anthony Sarmiento, Assistant Director. Human Resources Development Institute. AFL-CIO Robert Schwartz, Program Director. Education, Pew Charitable Trusts Ramsay Selden, Director. State Education Assessment Center, Council of Chief State School Officers Senator Paul Simon, U.S. Senator. Illinois Dorothy Strickland, Professor. Graduate School of Education. Rutgers University Francis X. Sutton, Vice-President fret.). Ford Foundation Calvin Tyler, Senior Vice President for Human Resources. UPS. Inc.

Peter Waite, Executive Director. Laubach Literacy Action


Hal Beder, Rutgers University Maria Carlo, University of Pennsylvania Suzanne Cockley, Virginia Adult Education Research Network Aydin Durgunoglu, University of Illinois. Urbana Marcia Farr, University of Illinois Beth Foley, Utah Suite University Maggie Gaines, Baltimore City Literacy Corp.

Sheryl Gowen, Georgia State University Keiko Koda, Ohio University Susan Lytle, University of Pennsylvania Peter B. Mosenthal, Syracuse University Thomas Reeves, University of Georgia Timothy Shanahan, University of Illinois at Chicago Keith Stanovich, University of Toronto Sondra Stein, National Institute for Literacy Terrence G. Wiley, California State University Long Beach


–  –  –

Abstract Professionalization refers to the process of using education and certification to enhance the quality of performance of those within an occupational field.

This report analyzes issues of professionalization within adult literacy education. It includes a review of relevant research and theory on professionalization, and an examination of the historical experiences of other professional fields. Data on state certification requirements for adult basic education teachers were analyzed, and interviews were conducted with officials from states having such requirements. Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with adult literacy teachers and program administrators in the Chicago area. Analysis of this information suggested that debate on professionalization is probably being impeded by the existence of unstated beliefs or premises. The report describes five, usually unstated, premises concerning the nature of adult basic education: (a) the right of adults to education, (b) state responsibility for the education of adults, (c) the role of teachers in educational quality, (d) the effectiveness of teacher training, and (e) the existence of a body of knowledge relevant to adult literacy education.



How do we ensure the availability of a corps of high quality teachers in adult literacy education? Issues of teacher quality continue to be hotly debated topics within the adult literacy community, and rules and regulations for governing who can be a teacher are being rethought or revised in many states.

Recent federal literacy legislation even calls on the states to encourage and facilitate the "training of full-time professional educators." Unfortunately, research in this area has been so limited that policymakers have had to make decisions without much in the way of empirical support. Since public discussions and publications on the issue usually appear to be atheoretical in nature or based upon a series of unstated premises, they often appear to confuse as much as inform.

The purpose of this paper is to make sense of the discussion about the professionalization of the adult literacy teacher, and to "unpack" some of these unstated premises on which previous arguments have often been based. We review the extant literature on the preparation, certification, and licensure of adult educators, and we also will draw on information from other fields about their professionalization process. Extensive interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with adult literacy educators from the Chicago area in order to gain access to teacher insights concerning these issues. Finally, interviews with appropriate state education officials were conducted. An examination of the basic beliefs held by those in the field provides a better foundation on which to develop theories, empirical research, and, eventually, policy on teacher development.

As we began interviewing teachers and officials, it became evident to us that words like professionalization and certification have multiple meanings and that some of these are controversial or negative within the field. Mention of such words conjured images of bureaucracy, lost employment, the adoption of requirements out of line with salaries, the disenfranchisement of volunteers, government intrusion, and the like. Some individuals saw professionalization and unprofessional as the intended contrasts. We noticed, also, that many publications on these issues did not use such terminology, but instead focused on teacher preparation, staff development, and in-service training.

To begin this discussion profitably let us define the term professionalization as we intend to use it. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a profession is an "occupation or vocation requiring training in the liberal arts or the sciences and advanced study in a specified field," and a professional is "one who has an assured competence in a particular field or occupation." Thus, professionalization refers to the movement of any field towards some standards of educational preparation and competency. The term professionalization indicates a direct attempt to (a) use education or training to improve the quality of practice, (b) standardize professional responses, (c) better define a collection of persons as representing a field of endeavor, and (d) enhance communication within that field.

One reason that professionalization generates so much heat is that it is an issue of both education and access. Professionalization necessarily entails ideas such as certification and licensure, although it cannot be defined by them.

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