Adult Numeracy Initiative

Increasingly, numeracy skills are required for postsecondary success, entry into the workforce, and earning potential. Basic numeracy is critical also to fulfilling family responsibilities, improving health outcomes, and contributing to the community. Yet, nationally, adults regularly perform at the lowest levels in math competency. The Adult Numeracy Initiative is the first major effort of the U.S. Department of Education to improve the research and practice of adult numeracy. This project has several goals:

  • Develop a thorough understanding of the current state of the field of adult numeracy;
  • Identify the gaps in knowledge about common strategies for teaching adult numeracy and how these strategies differ across different types of learners;
  • Identify the type of professional development and teacher certification that should be required for teachers of adult mathematics; and
  • Identify the type of assessment instruments that might be appropriate for measuring adult quantitative skill acquisition.

AIR conducted a comprehensive adult numeracy literature review, and guided by a technical work group, also conducted an environmental scan to examine adult numeracy professional development initiatives in the U.S. to inform future numeracy research. AIR developed criteria for program selection; collected data via review of extant materials and telephone interviews with project directors, trainers, and participants; analyzed data via techniques in grounded theory; and developed a final report, An Environmental Scan of Adult Numeracy Professional Development Initiatives and Practices, which provided a framework for quality professional development.

Image of Larry Condelli
Institute Fellow and Managing Researcher