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An Annotated Bibliography of Program Standards for Adult ESL


Compiled by MaryAnn Cunningham Florez
National Center for ESL Literacy Education
March 2002

Issues of standards and accountability are currently of great importance in delivery of educational services at all levels and in all contexts, including adult English as a second language (ESL). This annotated bibliography suggests some documents that adult ESL professionals can consult as they examine these issues.

In this bibliography, program standards are defined as the elements of development and delivery that reflect effective and efficient program performance. In other words, program standards are all the issues that programs need to address to provide the context and resources that support learner achievement.


Committee on Indicators of Program Quality of the New York/New York Adult Education and Training Alliance. (1996). Looking at Literacy: Indicators of Program Quality. New York: Author.
This report details a collaborative effort of learners, practitioners, funders, and policymakers in New York to develop indicators of adult education program quality in response to requirements of the National Literacy Act of 1991. The report outlines key elements of literacy programs such as governance and management, curriculum development, and community; discusses the potential impact of each element on learners and the program; and identifies one or two indicators of program quality for each element. While this document does not focus specifically on adult ESL, the content is applicable across a range of adult education program types.

Keltner, A. (1998). English Language Training Program Self-review: A Tool for Program Improvement. Wheat Ridge, CO: Spring Institute for International Studies. 41 pages. (ERIC ED423723)
This self-review can be used by program staff as a step-by-step guide for conducting regular self-evaluations of program quality. The review establishes eight areas of program operation, 15 quality indicators of program excellence, and scoring criteria and sample measures for each indicator. General information on conducting regular program self-evaluations and advice on using data gathered to set priorities are also included.

Laubach Literacy Action. (1996). National Quality Standards for Volunteer Literacy Programs. Syracuse, NY: Author. 10 pages. (ERIC ED417267)
Laubach Literacy, one of the largest volunteer literacy organizations in the United States, developed this document over a 2-year period. It includes input from both national and local program levels and details quality program indicators for areas of governance, program management, program operations (including curriculum development), and volunteer development.

Maryland State Department of Education, Adult and Literacy Services. (2000). Maryland Adult English as a Second Language Program Standards. Baltimore, MD: Author. 56 pages. Available: www.umbc.edu/alrc/ESLstand.html (ERIC ED439627)
This standards document represents one state's recent efforts to establish criteria that programs can use for ongoing self-evaluation and program improvement. Standards in eight areas of program planning and management are identified and sample measures for each standard are provided. Information on the purposes and uses of the standards, the principles that guided their development, and key objectives help establish the broader context within which the standards were developed. Appendices include a glossary of terms, resources, and sample measurement tools.

Rasmussen, J. (2000). BC Framework of Statements and Standards of Best Practices in Family Literacy. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: BC Literacy. Available: http://www.nald.ca/FULLTEXT/framwork/framwork.pdf
This document is both a statement of quality standards for family literacy programs in the province of British Columbia and a step-by-step worksheet that programs can use to guide their self-evaluation and program-improvement efforts. The initial section provides a statement of the standards and background information on the development of the standards. Each standard is followed by a checklist of measures and one or two reflective questions related to that standard.

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). (2000). Program Standards for Adult Education ESOL Programs. Alexandria, VA: Author. (Available from TESOL Publications, PO Box 753, Waldorf, MD 20604-0753)
This document describes program quality indicators in eight areas: program structure, administration, and planning; curriculum; instruction; recruitment, intake, and orientation; retention and transition; assessment and learner gains; staffing, professional development, and staff evaluation; and support services. It also discusses the considerations that informed the process of identifying these indicators, such as characteristics of adult ESL programs, characteristics of the learner population, the language learning process, and types of program providers. Sample measures and performance standards are included in the appendix.

U.S. Department of Education. National Reporting System for Adult Education (NRS) Web site. Washington, DC: Author. Available at www.air.org/nrs/
The NRS, an outcome-based accountability reporting system developed for federally funded, state-administered adult education programs, was created in response to reporting mandates in Title II of the Workforce Investment Act. NRS identifies and defines general program measures for national reporting, establishes standards and procedures for data collection, and provides training materials and training opportunities. Its Web site provides background information, NRS publications and online training materials, and related links and resources.

Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-220, 231.e. Stat. 1071 (1998). (Available: www.ed.gov/policy/adulted/leg/legis.html)
The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Title II of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, established the provision of adult education and literacy services and set 12 criteria for states to consider when determining a program's viability for funding (e.g., accountability and reporting efforts, program content quality, staffing, and responsiveness to community needs).




This bibliography was prepared with funding from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), under Contract No. ED-99-CO-0008. The opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OVAE or ED. This document is in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.