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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The impact of literacy programs on adults will be evaluated by the Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

The study is part of a broader U.S. Department of Education project to establish a national center for the study of adult learning and literacy.

UT’s Mary Beth Bingman and Brenda Bell will prepare a survey for Tennesseans which will be used as a “pilot for the national study,” Bingman said.

The survey, “which is like a life history interview,” will be given to 10 Tennessee adult learners. On the national level, 50 additional adult learners will be given the same survey, she said.

Bingman and Bell will also analyze data from a 1992 education department survey which tracked approximately 100 Tennesseans in adult literacy programs over four years. And they will assemble two national task forces to “assess learning gains and outcomes,” Bingman said.

“We want to assess the effect these programs have on the student’s quality of life. Does it change how they interact with their families? Do they vote, or are they involved in community activities?”

Based upon survey data, one of the national center’s goals will be a special focus on adults who scored lowest on tests, do not speak English or do not have a high school diploma. An estimated 90 million Americans fall within this target group, she said.

Hal Beder, adult education researcher at Rutgers University, will collaborate with the UT researchers, Bingman said.

The national center will involve UT, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and World Education, a nonprofit international adult literacy agency.

The national center will be directed by John P. Comings at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He will be assisted by Cristine A. Smith at World Education and Bingman.

Contact: Mary Beth Bingman (423-974-4109)