LITERACY RESOURCES/RI/ Progress report, July, 2004 Literacy Resources/Rhode Island workplan - July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2005
LITERACY RESOURCES/RI/ Progress report, July, 2004
Literacy Resources/Rhode Island workplan - July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2005
As it is administered by the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, LR/RI continues to utilize University technical assistance for the implementation of Internet applications and University space for conferences, meetings and colloquia. As well, during the coming work period, LR/RI and the Swearer Center will oversee fiscal arrangements regarding disbursement of payments for activities as indicated by the state director of adult education, thereby facilitating payment processes to those involved. For the past two years, Brown's in-kind contribution to LR/RI has increased, enabling core funding to be used as efficiently as possible.
LR/RI is constantly working to increase participation in professional development opportunities available to adult educators in the state. As mentioned above, such opportunities come in the form of sharing/discussion sessions, (which encourage practitioners to come together to identify their own strengths and needs, and connect practitioners to human and material resources needed to strengthen and ameliorate practice), participation in inquiry projects, ongoing workshops and follow-up activities, and an open invitation to practitioners to utilize LR/RI to teach classes so that teachers may observe and discuss one another's work. LR/RI supports the state director's initiatives GED 2002 trainings, for example, as well as those of the HRIC training teams by disseminating that information through its bulletin and also, when appropriate, providing access to web-based and other supporting materials as part of the larger process of disseminating information and supporting educatorsı professional development. LR/RI disseminates information about professional development opportunities available beyond the state, and collaborates with its counterparts in the SABES (Massachusetts) systems, to ensure that access to programs is made available to RI practitioners as space allows.
Specific areas of ongoing focus include/specific actions to be taken over the course of the next funding period:
- increasing use of, support for and access to the internet and related technology by continuing to provide access to practitioners and learners wanting to learn to use the technology, and providing training as needed in order to facilitate integration of technology into adult education practice
LR/RI will continue to offer ongoing internet/computer training to the field on an as-needed basis, in addition to drop in sessions on an as-needed basis. Given the increase of access to technology over the past few years, LR/RI hopes to gather base line data from the governorıs asset-map survey work in order to reassess its roles in assisting with technology in terms of both content and form.
support the development of learner leadership
follow up with programs stating that they support such leadership; work with Massachusetts learner leadership programs, with VALUE and with state programs to develop concrete actions to strengthen learner leadership and participation in adult education programs and processes.
dissemination of information / increasing access to national, regional and local information, conferences, and projects
maintain an online inventory of program information in concert with LVA-RI/HRIC, increase sharing of in-house and cross/joint collaboration where possible.
continue development of the web site: links, pages developed for particular interests, local practitioners adding content, all pages are updated regularly)
continue to develop and disseminate the bulletin as noted above.
Explore possibilities (raised during the LINCS Family Literacy Special Collections meeting) of deepening Rhode Island's participation in Americaıs Literacy Directory through funding tentatively available through the NIFL.
professional development activity
continue work to expand opportunities, as mentioned above, for practitioners to observe one another within and across programs/agencies
increase practitioner facilitation of/reporting on sharing sessions so that LR/RI has a less active and more supportive role
continue to address practitioners' requests for assistance on an as-needed basis
work with the state director of adult education (or his interim appointee) to address priorities indicated above and to ensure a smooth flow of communication and concerted action.
continue to participate in the governorıs task force professional development work group to design a system for professional development within the broader framework of a statewide adult education system and to inform policy makers of the urgency of need for resources for adult education.
follow up with agencies informing the task forceıs asset map in order to clearly learn what professional development activities occur, and how they can be supported and shared. Meet with program directors and other administrative practitioners in order to develop common understandings of roles and purposes of professional development staff and activities.
support learning disabilities activities. LR/RI will continue to work closely with the state director to ensure that adult educators receive information about diagnosis/assessment available to learning disabled adults, will work to educate program directors and practitioners about the ramifications of different testing instruments as part of a substantive statewide effort towards systemic change, and will also participate in ensuring that the field is aware of diagnostic assessment procedures available to adults in the state through the agreement between RIDE and URI, should this assessment/diagnoses work continue into the next project period. Janet will also continue to maintain contact with the FIP education and LD subcommittees.
develop new funding sources for professional development opportunities which strengthen connections between the adult education field and other social service/community providers whose clients / customers utilize services across domains. (The Interim House work, and funding from the American Foundation for the Blind are examples of such supplementary support).
participate on boards and committee work (NIFL special collections, MATSOL) listed above.
present workshops at national and regional conferences. (To date LR/RI, along with one of the inquiry project teachers, has been invited to present at TESOL's 2005 conference on the Adult Education and Refugee Concerns interest sectionsı academic panels, and will coordinate planning for RI's third annual conference, scheduled for the spring of 2005).
With programs in the state experiencing across the board cuts in funding, LR/RI has been rethinking its inquiry project plan. After meeting on July 31st with practitioner stakeholders to develop an interim-year series of events designed to support practitioner research while acknowledging that the limited funding available, it was decided that in order to increased interest amongst practitioners in research we would use this past program year to re-think our strategy and to develop smaller, but sustainable projects with increased numbers of practitioners. This yearıs group (2003-4) has suggested that for 2004-5, a balance of both inquiry and more traditional research processes would be worth pursing, LR/RI again plans to offer a year-long supported program to those practitioners wishing to explore either option.
While this year's plan represents an increase in directly-provided professional development activities (state conference, exploration of a mentorship project, and inquiry projects), in addition to ongoing support detailed throughout this narrative, LR/RI also hopes to engage more program level professional development staff in its work of deepening our commitment to quality professional development.
Other areas of professional development for which additional support will be necessary include supporting programs in implementing continued grants under the Workforce Investment Act, (should new RFP's be issued in the spring of 2005) improved means of assessing and reporting on learner/program progress, as well as an ongoing responsiveness to practitioners' requests for information, assistance and access to one another.
LR/RI's work will continue to be evaluated through the use of paper/pencil evaluation at the completion of workshop sessions, as well as pre-post surveys of those participating in the workshops and discussion groups and other means of assessing the project's usefulness in terms of direct classroom instruction and increased practitioner knowledge/learning. Indicators of success will be found in teachers' and program directors assessment of improved classroom practice, and (where feasible) through learners' reports as well. Email and other informal feedback is also gathered and archived in order to provide an ongoing record of LR/RI's impact on the field. Feedback from the governorıs task force asset map will also be analyzed.
ongoing communication/information sharing
LR/RI has developed a viable communications network. Its web site and regular bulletin distribution are in place, but also need to be strengthened so that this information is not stopped at the front line (i.e. a program director who may or may not distribute the information). To this end, a growing number of adult educators receive copies of the bulletin directly (via mail or email). Increased proactive outreach to others in the field will continue. LR/RI continuously responds to requests for information in the areas of employment, professional development opportunities and general information about adult education, receives information for dissemination through its bulletin (these requests arrive via phone, fax and email), and also responds to both Rhode Island-specific requests as well as requests from practitioners nationwide. Its project director attends meetings of the state's key literacy groups, in an ongoing attempt to ensure that information is shared as broadly as possible amongst key stakeholders.
LR/RI aims to work on development of teacher education in the areas of math and in supporting efforts to assist teachers with the changes in GED 2002, EFF, standards development and review, and continued development of standards reporting processes. This professional support could take the form of ongoing sharing/discussion groups as well as periodic workshops with the sharing groups in place to support the learning and exploration that we hope teachers will undertake vis a vis numeracy, changes to the essay piece of the GED, development of the External Diploma Program, etc. It is hoped that follow-up sessions to workshops already offered will create spaces for exchange and learning amongst practitioners working with ABE and GED learners. Practitioners may be well positioned to facilitate these sharing sessions as well as some of the workshops - depending on what further needs are identified by practitioners. Through these sharing sessions we could learn more about what practitioners feel their areas of strength and weakness to be and plan workshops and other events to support their learning. As well, we need to continue to assist practitioners in understanding connections between their own observations of learner progress and ways of linking that progress to EFF, NRS and other relevant standards-based reporting systems.
Late in the program year, LR/RI, with Patricia Bellart and Howard Dooley of Project RIRAL, met with Donna Chambers, who has been working with the External Diploma Program, as part of a larger effort to increase the visibility of the EDP in Rhode Island, and to raise awareness of this useful alternative adult credential. Plans are underway to host an informational meeting and develop ongoing strategies to revitalize this critical credentialing instrument in the coming year.
moving the field forward
LR/RI remains committed to building an assets-based, practitioner-driven means of moving the field forward in ways that broaden our understandings of adult learners' needs and strengths, and recognize and strengthen connections between discrete areas (e.g. health, housing, community wellness, civic participation) and literacy learning itself. Adults come to literacy instruction with experience and expertise and also with questions and needs to be addressed.
Drawing on learners' stated goals, negotiated curricula processes and increased understandings for adult educators about both theoretical underpinnings and methodological realities while posing broader questions in important contexts remains critical to the work LR/RI does. On a day to day level LR/RI is committed, too, to assisting programs in understanding means of assessing learner goals and of reporting those goals to relevant funding sources. Part of this process includes sharing information about standards and reporting on line and through direct contact, as well as supporting initiatives of the state director, and supporting other agenciesı efforts to share information about their workshops and events.
LR/RI depends upon the participation of and input from adult learners, educators and administrators across the state, and appreciates suggestions received from literacy workers both within and beyond the state's borders. While RIDE and individual programs have supported practitioners' professional development, there is a pressing need in the state to increase linkages and communication between and among practitioners and programs. Enabling these linkages to develop organically and over time seems a wise strategy in attempting to institutionalize the possibilities inherent in ongoing sharing and communication for those teaching in and administering programs for adult learners in the state. Literacy Resources/RI proposes to maintain its commitment to the state's adult education field in disseminating information and providing support for and access to professional development across the state in order to meet the needs of the learner populations as fully as possible in the manners described above and in ongoing consultation with the field.
Future directions, possibilities
Adult education in Rhode Island is in flux at the time of this writing. A dedicated group of practitioners and others who work with adult learners (employment specialists, representatives of the Department of Human Services, policy makers and related stakeholders) have spent the past 8 months on a process of gathering input about needed changes to the system, such as it is. With the departure of the state director, and uncertainty about funding, staffing and other factors beyond any one personıs immediate control, this last section represents LR/RI's vision of future directions of the resource center and the field.
While there is some question in the field about the importance of a physical site for the resource center (bricks and mortar? web and face-to-face presence? resource library/libraries?), LR/RI is in possession of resource material for browsing and a web presence such that allocation of limited resources to create a stand alone space seems ill-advised for the immediate future. More useful would be the dedication of resources for additional content specialists in the areas of learning disabilities, adult basic learning (numeracy, ABE, GED, ASE) and ESOL. LR/RI's director has the expertise to meet the ESOL piece of the equation, and has worked, wherever possible to connect those needing content knowledge in other areas with local experts. Although LR/RI's expertise is adequate in these areas, no one person can or should be expected to provide professional development to the entire state. I would therefore propose funding for three additional content experts, who would be based at their existing programs (i.e. such content experts are already working, mostly as teachers/instructors) and sited around the state. They would be, along with LR/RI's project director, required to do direct teaching for up to five hours per week, and would then work, in coordination with LR/RI in increasing professional development opportunities in their areas through provision of workshops, ongoing study circles, teacher sharing sessions, etc as required throughout the state. Funding for these positions would be two-pronged; with a portion coming from direct service funding through the agencies at which they're based, (and their teaching assignments could well exceed five hours per week), with the remainder deriving from state leadership funding. While LR/RI can continue to collaborate with other professional development resource people, as it has done, as a future direction, this additional staff would greatly enhance its capabilities, while avoiding increases in administrative costs.
Using findings of the governor's task force asset map will give LR/RI solid information on which to base professional development activities for the coming year, during which state-funded programs will, essentially, extend their existing grants for at least one more (possibly two) years, while WIA re-authorization struggles continue on the federal level. In the meanwhile, the task forceıs work will be continued in some way (one hopes) so that the field's recommendations will be implemented, most likely, over an extended period of time.
Regardless of changes in structure, the mission of LR/RI continues to focus on validating strengths and addressing needs in the field so that adult learning provision is as strong, vital and appropriately matched to learners' goals as possible.
to 2003/4 progress report
to 2002/3 progress report
OVERVIEW OF YEAR SIX
OVERVIEW OF YEAR FIVE
OVERVIEW OF YEAR FOUR
OVERVIEW OF YEAR THREE
OVERVIEW OF YEARS ONE AND TWO