SECTION 1. ADULT BASIC AND SECONDARY EDUCATION: EFFECTIVENESS STUDIES OF LITERACY INSTRUCTION
The search for literature on literacy instruction for adults included a prior review, sponsored by the National Institute for Literacy (Kruidenier, MacArthur, and Wrigley, 2010), and targeted searches to augment these findings as needed to draw conclusions about the state of the research and needs for development. Electronic searches were conducted using Scopus and ERIC to locate additional studies for the years 1990-2010. Searches were conducted using the following single or crossed search terms: adult literacy, adult literacy instruction, literacy education, adult education, adult basic education, adult students, adults, reading instruction, decoding (reading), reading comprehension, reading processes, writing instruction, intervention, teaching methods, instructional effectiveness, program effectiveness, adult basic skills, adult secondary education, General Educational Development, GED, high school equivalency programs, community-based organizations, community colleges, prison, workplace, correctional, health, housing, English language learners, second language learners, second language learning, English as a Second Language (ESL), and English (Second Language).
Other references were found in the Cited Reference Search in the ISI Web of Science Social Science Citation Index and Google Scholar. To ensure identification of the most recent work, a manual search for the years 2008-2010 was conducted in the journals Adult Basic Education, Adult Education Quarterly, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Second Language Writing, Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, Reading and Writing, Reading Research Quarterly, Remedial and Special Education, and Scientific Studies in Reading. Literature considered for the review consisted of peer-reviewed journal articles and reviewed technical reports from known agencies. To be included in the review, material had to report information on the reading or writing abilities of adults in the United States with low literacy skills.
Studies of literacy instruction with adolescents were selected for the review only if the adolescents were taught alongside adults, or, if not, they received GED preparation. Studies of instruction with solely adolescent samples not preparing for the GED (e.g., Allen-DeBoer, Malmgren, and Glass, 2006; Houchins et al., 2008) were not included in the review. Generally, the term adults refers to individuals ages 18 and older, although in recent years adult literacy programs have also been serving students as young as age 16 (Hayes, 2000; Perin, Flugman, and Spiegel, 2006). Eligibility criteria for federally funded adult education programs specify that individuals must be ages 16 or older. In addition, national adult literacy surveys count individuals ages 16 and older as adults (Kutner et al., 2007). Therefore, for the purpose of this review, the term adults refers to ages 16 and older and thus includes older adolescents.
Studies on instructional effects could employ a variety of design and research methods, but they had to describe the nature of the reading or writing instruction and include direct assessments of outcomes in reading or writing. Studies that investigated literacy outcomes as a function of global instructional variables without a focus on instructional practices for teaching reading and writing (e.g., Fitzgerald and Young, 1997) were not included. Literature reviews (e.g., Rachal, 1984, 1995; Slavin and Cheung, 2003; Torgerson et al., 2005; Torgerson, Porthouse, and Brooks, 2003) and compilations of program descriptions (Beder, 1999; Medina, 1999) served as sources of information but were not included in the review.
To be included, the study must report at least one quantitative reading or writing outcome, using either a published, standardized test or an experimental measure that yielded a numerical score. Studies using student self-reports of reading or writing skills as a dependent measure (e.g., Darkenwald and Valentine, 1985) were excluded. In cases in which both literacy and numeracy were taught, only findings for reading or writing were included. Studies that combined outcomes for reading and math without disaggregating them (e.g., Boudett and Friedlander, 1997; Friedlander and Martinnson, 1996) were not included in the review of instructional outcomes.
If not otherwise stated in the research report, it was assumed that participants in studies of adult basic education or GED instruction spoke enough English so as not to require ESL classes. Among the studies with English language learners, only research reporting measured outcomes on reading or writing (not