635 Edgewood St. NE   Washington, D.C. 20017202-387-1772 (phone)202-588-0714 (fax)

       © Copyright 2015 - Literacy Volunteers and Advocates (LVA) - All Rights Reserved 


by Literacy Volunteers and Advocates on 04/07/15

A recently released report from the US Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education demonstrates why the work that LVA and LVA volunteers do is so important.

"Making Skills Everyone's Business" details the need for "upskilling" America's workforce.

At LVA, many DC adults come to us to improve their basic reading and writing skills in the hope that it will help to provide them with a better foothold in the job market. The "foundation skills" of literacy, numeracy, and basic workplace protocols is extremely important. Unfortunately, too many DC -- and US -- adults are lacking in such skills and the result is not only poor employment prospects for those adults but even basic living skills.

Many Americans would be surprised to learn that, according to the 2012 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) survey, 17.5% of Americans ages 16-65 have low literacy. Even in DC, often heralded as one of the nation's most literate cities, the most widely cited data from the last decade found a similar percentage of DC adults with low literacy skills.

What's the cost?

The report notes the intergenerational problem of low skills.  Low skilled adults are likely to have parents with similar low skills. Even though many have completed high school they are often working for low wages.

 "Making Skills Everyone's Business" states:

U.S. adults with low levels of education who have parents with low levels of education are 10 times more likely to have low skills than are those who have higher-educated parents. This intergenerational link is much stronger in the United States than in other countries and suggests that skill gaps in childhood persist into adulthood.


Many low skill adults are in poorer health and do not believe that they have a say in their government.

Helping to improve the skills of those adults with low skills can not only improve their lives, it can help to set their children on a better path. The report states:

Several studies have found that when mothers with low education levels complete additional education, their children appear to have improved language and reading skills. These quasi-experimental studies have found these effects of increased maternal education only for mothers with a high school education or less who have participated in a variety of education and training services, including high school credential completion, occupational training, and college.

Given the concern expressed by many in DC about income inequality and lack of social mobility, more DC residents need to speak out about the need to ensure that adult literacy and adult education organizations are well-funded and serving the many people who desire to improve their basic skills.

That is why LVA works in partnership with other adult literacy and adult education organizations to ensure more DC adults can receive the education they need to improve their basic skills and improve their lives.

LVA is thrilled to announce that two of its learners have 
been featured on NPR (88.5 WAMU) as part of a five-part 
series on Adult Education called Yesterday's Dropouts. The interview can be found by clicking the WAMU link below. We are so proud of our learners and their dedication to literacy.