Adult Literacy Volunteer Instruction


For low-literacy adults, the statistics are abysmal. According to a recent federal study, an estimated 32 million American adults were functionally illiterate in 2009. Low literacy is directly tied to such social problems as crime rates, school drop-outs, and homelessness. In our Greater Houston area, 21% of the population, or almost one out of five adults, functions at the lowest level of literacy (National Adult Literacy Survey, 2003). Houston was ranked sixtieth out of the seventy-five least literate cities in the United States (Central Connecticut State University, 2010).

Unfortunately, at this level, students do not have the reading level to complete the literacy portion of the General Educational Development in order to earn a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Without a GED, access to the labor market is almost non-existent. Job market qualifications aside, lower literacy levels lead to health issues as many cannot read prescriptions, product warnings, directions, or important safety instructions. At Neuhaus Education Center, we understand that adult literacy instruction is vital to the well-being of adults in our community who struggle with their day-to-day low literacy skills.


According to Dr. Marsha Speck, Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership at Arizona State University, the “transfer of learning for adults is not automatic and must be facilitated. Coaching and other kinds of follow-up support are needed to help adult learners transfer learning into daily practice so that it is sustained” (Speck 1996). To that end, Neuhaus Education Center, in collaboration with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, developed four training videos for volunteers with Houston-based adult literacy providers.