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D.C. Failing To Properly Educate Adult Learners, Says Report

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D.C. is home to one of the most highly skilled labor markets in the country, yet more than 60,000 adults who live here cannot read and do math at a basic level. A new report by the non profit D.C. Appleseed urges District leaders to do more to help this struggling population.

Brooke DeRenzis, the author of the report, “From Basic Skills to Good Jobs,” says all the District agencies that educate adult learners only serve a fraction of the population that needs help.

"Together they served at most, roughly 8,000 residents in Fiscal Year 2013, the number of residents without a high school degree is over 60,000," she says.

DeRenzis says the educational outcomes for adult learners in D.C. lag behind the national outcomes.

"District adult learners are more likely to leave the program early, they also have lower levels of educational gains and a lower GED exam pass rate," she says, noting that there are several challenges.

"Many of the job training programs that are funded in the District of Columbia require adults to have skills at the eighth grade level, and over half of the D.C. adult learners enrolled in programs are below that level," she says.

And DeRenzis says funding is uneven. For example, an adult who studies at a charter school receives almost $7,000 from the D.C. government, while an adult who studies at a community non-profit receives only $800.

DeRenzis says one of the recommendations is that all agencies that work on adult education coordinate their work and create common goals.

The report also calls for two and a half million dollars of additional funding to pay for adult education programs to pay for additional professional development, testing out pilot programs and assessments for students with learning disabilities.

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