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Glossary of Key Terms in Adult Education & Family Literacy

The broad category of Adult Education & Family Literacy includes the following subcategories:

Adult Basic Education (ABE) – Instruction in reading, writing, speaking, and comprehending English, and solving quantitative problems, including functional context, designed for adults who: have minimal competence in reading, writing, and solving quantitative problems; are not sufficiently competent to speak, read, or write the English language; or are not sufficiently competent to meet the requirements of adult life in the United States, including employment commensurate with the adult's real ability.

Adult Education – Academic instruction and education services below the postsecondary level that increase an individual’s ability to—(A) read, write, and speak in English and perform mathematics or other activities necessary for the attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent; (B) transition to postsecondary education and training; and (C) obtain employment.

Adult Education and Literacy Activities – Programs, activities, and services that include adult education, literacy, workplace adult education and literacy activities, family literacy activities, English language acquisition activities, integrated English literacy and civics education, workforce preparation activities, or integrated education and training.

Adult Secondary Education (ASE) – Comprehensive secondary instruction below the college credit level in reading, writing and literature, mathematics, science, and social studies, including functional context, and instruction for adults who do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Digital Literacy Skills – The skills associated with using technology to enable users to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information.

English Language Acquisition (ELA): Instruction designed to help eligible individuals who are English-language learners achieve competence in reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension of the English language and that leads to: attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent; postsecondary education and training; or employment.

Family Literacy – Activities that are of sufficient intensity and quality, to make sustainable improvements in the economic prospects for a family and that better enable parents or family members to support their children's learning needs, and that integrate all of the following activities: (A) Parent or family adult education and literacy activities that lead to readiness for postsecondary education or training, career advancement, and economic self-sufficiency. (B) Interactive literacy activities between parents or family members and their children. (C) Training for parents or family members regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children. (D) An age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.

Integrated Education and Training (IET) – A service approach that provides adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement.

Literacy – An individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family, and in society.

Workforce Preparation Activities – Activities, programs, or services designed to help an individual acquire a combination of basic academic, critical thinking, digital literacy, and self-management skills, including competencies in using resources and information, working with others, understanding systems, and obtaining skills necessary for successful transition into and completion of postsecondary education or training, or employment.

Workforce Training – Occupational skills training that results in a recognized postsecondary credential or industry-recognized certificate, certification or state or national license. Workforce Training programs prepare students for immediate employment or a job upgrade within specific occupational categories, but may also result in college credits that articulate to more advanced certificates or degrees.

Workplace Adult Education and Literacy Activities – Those offered by an eligible provider in collaboration with an employer or employee organization at a workplace or an off-site location that is designed to improve the productivity of the workforce.

Updated June 2016 based on definitions used by Texas Workforce Commission and in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014.



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