Functional Literacy in High School Students

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Functional Literacy in High School Students What is Functional Literacy? Prior to 1985, functional literacy was defined as the ability to read or write in English or another language. Standards for measuring one’s functional literacy have changed numerous times over the decades. In the 1930’s functional literacy meant having three or more years of school. During the WWII era, it meant completing a fourth grade education. The standards increased during the 1960’s. Literacy in this era meant that a person had completed an eighth grade education. During the 1970’s, the completion of a high school education meant that a person was functionally literate (Rose 2005). The National Literacy Act of 1991 and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 expanded the definition of functional literacy. These two pieces of legislation define functional literacy as “an individual’s ability to read, write, speak English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual and in society”. In conjunction with the clarified definition, literacy in general has been broken down into four levels (White and Dillow 2005): Level One • Able to follow simple written directions and select phrases that describe pictures • Basic adding and subtraction Ex: Locate the time and place of a meeting, Fill out a job application, Add amounts on a deposit slip. Level Two • Identifying cause and effect • Demonstrating understanding of a body of text and draw conclusions about the text • Using arithmetic when not explicitly needed Ex: Identify specific location on a map, Compare cost of two items Level Three • Understand, summarize, and explain themes complicated literature • Make... ... middle of paper ... ... Literacy. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, 2007. National Assessment of Educational Progress. 12th Grade Reading and Mathmatics 2005. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 2005. National Dropout Prevention Center. "Early Literacy Developement." 2002. Rose, M. Lives on the Boundary. New York: Penguin Books, 2005. Rutenberg, D. High School Literacy: A Quick Fact Sheet. National High School Center at AIR, 2009. Short, D., and S Fitzsimmons. Double Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Langugage Learners. New York: Carnegie Corporation, 2007. White, S, and S Dillow. Key Concepts and Features of the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 2005.
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