AIR Report Addresses the Policy Barriers Facing Low-Skilled Adults

Washington, D.C. – The American Institutes for Research (AIR) has released a policy report that examines the challenges and potential solutions to overcoming the barriers facing low-skilled adult learners who are striving to improve their English proficiency, develop their basic skills and advance in the workplace.

The report, Changing the Odds: Informing Policy with Research on How Adult Learners Succeed, is based on a symposium hosted by AIR that attracted leading national experts who explored a variety of alternatives for program delivery and policy infrastructure that could improve the chances for success of adult learners in the United States. The report is available at no cost on the AIR Website,

The report suggests that investing in innovative models to improve programs and accelerate learning through technology may help address the needs of some learners and reach the vast majority of adults not currently being served in adult education and vocational programs.

Addressing barriers to change is critical, and key steps identified to achieve this include:

  • Legislative language and regulations that align education, job training, and postsecondary access;
  • Recognition of the domestic and international demographic and economic trends and pressures that have the potential to swell the ranks of adults needing literacy and English language services; and
  • The engagement and partnership of other public and private agencies in the development of innovative service delivery models.

The report was written by Larry Condelli, Rita Kirshstein and Heidi Silver-Pacuilla of AIR, Stephen Reder of Portland State University and Heide Spruck Wrigley of LiteracyWork International, Inc.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is an independent, nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit

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