To improve the outcomes of adult learners, programs and educators need research they can trust and readily use to inform practice.

AIR contributes to the research base about what works for adult learners by conducting rigorous and policy-relevant studies focused on teaching and learning.

Our experts also conduct analyses of statewide and national data on adult competencies and participation in education and training. We use the results of our research to produce technical assistance and publications that can be readily translated into practice.

Projects

Adult Skills Network Lead

There is little research to guide practitioners and consumers in identifying effective approaches to technology-supported adult skills programming. The Adult Skills Network is designed to facilitate the development, adoption and evaluation of technology-supported interventions for adult foundational skills and academic attainment. AIR leads the Network in collaboration with its partners, Abt Associates, Jobs for the Future, and the EdTech Center @ World Education, Inc.

Teaching Skills That Matter (TSTM) - SkillBlox Research Team

The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act funds over 1,600 programs each year to provide adults with foundational skills development to improve their literacy, numeracy, and English proficiency. To support these programs, the U.S. Department of Education funded the Teaching Skills That Matter initiative. Because educators need digital resources to sustain and scale their use of TSTM, the TSTM-SkillBlox research project is designed to address knowledge gaps.

National Study of the Implementation of Adult Education Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) Program, authorized under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), is the main source of federal support for adult basic and literacy education programs for adults who lack basic skills, a high school diploma, or proficiency in English. The National Study of the Implementation of Adult Education Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is the first study in the evaluation of WIOA Title II, and will collect data for the first time in over a decade on how adult education programs are providing services under AEFLA.

New York State Literacy Zones Researcher-Practitioner Partnership

Urban and rural communities in New York with intense poverty and limited English language proficiency require systematic efforts to meet the educational and economic needs of individuals and families. The purpose of the New York State Literacy Zone Researcher-Practitioner Partnership is to build capacity, with the ultimate goal of improving the outcomes of high-need adult learners in New York through the increased use of data.

Adult Training and Education Survey (ATES)

With a 2009 federal call for U.S. adults to pursue at least one year of higher education and training leading to a credential, it was imperative to measure whether industry-recognized certifications, state and local government-issued licenses, subbaccalaureate educational certificates, and other nondegree credentials were being obtained and the impact they were having on employment outcomes. As the primary technical support contractor for the Adult Training and Education Survey, AIR does survey development and testing, sampling, and data preparation, analysis, and reporting for NCES. The first official data and report were released in 2017-18.

Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

The Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIACC) is a cyclical, large-scale, direct household assessment that compares the basic skills and competencies of adults around the world. It measures relationships between individuals’ backgrounds and cognitive skills in the areas of literacy, numeracy and problem-solving. AIR provides technical, analytical, and management support to PIAAC.

Studying Teacher Effectiveness in Adult Education

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies studies the cognitive and workplace skills of adults in 24 countries to determine how well they can participate in a 21st century society and global economy. AIR and the Educational Testing Service are partnering on a three-year training project focused on building the capacity of the U.S. research community to utilize the new data sets and tools from PIAAC.

PIAAC Analysis for Change the Equation

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) provides vital data on how many adults possess skills and cognitive abilities in numeracy and technology. But policymakers, educators, industry leaders, and others want to know the impact having those competencies has on types of employment, pay, work tasks, job satisfaction, and more. Analyses found that large portions of the population had relatively low skills in terms of numeracy and also solving problems in a technological environment.

Training Researchers to Use PIAAC to Further Multidisciplinary Research Aims

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies studies the cognitive and workplace skills of adults in 24 countries to determine how well they can participate in a 21st century society and global economy. AIR and the Educational Testing Service are partnering on a three-year training project focused on building the capacity of the U.S. research community to utilize the new data sets and tools from PIAAC.

Adult ESL Literacy Impact Study

In 2008, nearly half of the students served in federally funded adult education programs were English as a second language (ESL) learners. However, there was limited rigorous research on interventions for this population. This study was conducted to improve the research base on effective instruction for low-literate ESL adults.

The What Works Study for Adult ESL Literacy Students

U.S. Department of Education statistics from 2008 showed that 44 percent of the 2.4 million students in the federally funded adult education program were English as a second language (ESL) students, and of these, about 185,000 were at the lowest ESL level, beginning literacy. The What Works Study for Adult ESL Literacy Students study identified effective instructional practices for improving the literacy skills of low-literate adult ESL learners.

Transitioning English Language Learners (TELL)

More than 40 percent of the 1.8 million adults served by the national adult education program are English language learners (ELLs). Often, these learners begin with English as a second language classes and then transition to adult basic or adult secondary programming to further their academic skills. In 2008–2011, AIR staff conducted an examination of the policies and instructional and programmatic strategies that support the successful transition of advanced ELLs into advanced educational programming that prepares them for postsecondary education and the 21st century workplace.

Secondary Analysis of National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) Data

The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) is a comprehensive measure that includes education and work histories, personal characteristics, and literacy skills data for 19,000 respondents. Findings from this study show that 30 million people in the United States lack the literacy skills needed to take full advantage of career opportunities.

Contact
Image of Stephanie Cronen
Managing Researcher