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Adult Education Federal Policies Research Paper


Adult Education Act

Adult Education Act (AEA) (1991) was proposed and approved by Congress in 1966 and marked the start of projects developed for the improvement of the economic state of disadvantaged populations.

  • Economy: the Act was aimed at enhancing the economy by giving citizens a possibility to obtain education and, as a result, get better employment options; the Act developed people’s economic self-sufficiency;
  • Demographics: Americans 16 years of age or older;
  • Ethics: the Act was developed only for the American citizens; thus, it left out ethnic and racial minorities, and cannot be considered entirely ethical;
  • Political climate: the Act enabled political equality of all US citizens (“Adult education act” [AEA], 1991).

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act

The objectives of Adult Education And Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) (2014) are similar to those covered by AEA. However, AEFLA also includes a rather crucial aim of helping parents and guardians obtain the necessary skills to be able to participate in their children’s educational process.

  • Economy: AEFLA helps to develop the country’s economy by providing people an opportunity to enhance their job situation;
  • Demographics: Americans and foreign-born adults;
  • Ethics: AEFLA gives equal possibilities for all adults living in the USA;
  • Political climate: the Act enhances political climate in the country (“Adult education and family literacy act” [AEFLA], 2014).

Assessment of Policies in Terms of Interest for Adult Education

AEA is highly significant for the organization of adult education as it was among the pioneers of such projects and it was developed to enhance people’s well-being. Also, the policy supports people’s basic values, which makes it an important step on the way to forming a better nation (Fowler, 2013). The significance of AEFLA for adult education is revealed in its focus on the parents’ ability to participate in children’s education. Adults participating in the program have better chances to assimilate in society as citizens and parents (AEFLA, 2014). Thus, this policy corresponds to the requirement of comprehending the unique requirements of adults (Kazis et al., 2007).

Both policies have many advantages as well as some disadvantages. AEA and AEFLA help citizens to achieve better success in employment and earn more money to support themselves and their families (Center for applied linguistics, 2010). Moreover, obtaining education allows people to feel more motivated and self-sufficient. However, policies also have some disadvantages. For instance, the political environment should be thoroughly considered before enrolling in some program since hardly any policy is non-ideological nowadays (Fowler, 2013). Such core value of the US people as individualism may also suffer as a result of enrolling in some policy (Fowler, 2013).

To make AEA more effective, it is necessary to update it and include the authorization for incentive grants in its program, as it currently does not have such option (“Comparison,” 1998). Also, AEA does not have any options for the outlying areas (“Comparison,” 1998). What concerns AEFLA, it could be improved if more funding was allotted to such areas as activities aimed at professional development, technical and technology assistance, assessment and monitoring, and combination of training professional skills with literacy instruction (“Comparison,” 1998). In general, both policies are quite beneficial, and they help people enhance their place in society at various levels.

Evaluation Points and Suggested changes

Adult Education Act

  • Evaluation point 1: individualism.
    • Change consideration 1: AEA should be adapted to individual needs of learners and their specific educational purposes. People should be able to choose the courses that they consider most essential for their self-development.
  • Evaluation point 2: accessibility.
    • Change consideration 2: adult learners have less free time due to having a full-time work. When they spend all their vacant time on learning, it may lead to high stress and burnout level. Thus, compromise approach is necessary to balance between work and education (Kazis et al., 2007).
  • Evaluation point 3: pedagogy.
    • Change consideration 3: it is necessary to change current methods of pedagogy as they do not always comply with adult learners’ needs (Kazis et al., 2007).
  • Evaluation point 4: ethics.
    • Change consideration 4: all adult persons should have equal access to education. No exceptions should be made when allowing citizens to enroll in courses. People of all environments (imprisoned, ill, etc.) should have equal opportunities to enhance their education (Kazis et al., 2007).

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act

  • Evaluation point 1: accessibility.
    • Change consideration 1: people having children have very little free time as they not only need to work to sustain their families but also have to take care of their family. Thus, access to AEFLA should be simplified to allow this category of adults equal educational possibilities (Kazis et al., 2007).
  • Evaluation point 2: flexibility.
    • Change consideration 2: participants of AEFLA should be given an opportunity to make a pause in their program with the right to resume it when it becomes possible. For instance, these adults may need time to take care of their children in case of illness.
  • Evaluation point 3: single parenting.
    • Change consideration 3: special considerations should be made in concern of single parents. They should be provided with more support on the governmental level.
  • Evaluation point 4: individualism.
    • Change consideration 4: As well as AEA, AEFLA should provide participants enough freedom of choosing the courses and time of education. While the act has beneficial purpose, it may lose some value if it dictates rules to people.

Policy Assessment Summary

In spite of some of some disadvantages, both AEA and AEFLA present a number of positive opportunities for adult education industry. As a result of enrolling in these programs, adults obtain better job opportunities and receive other benefits that enhance the lives of their families and their personal well-being.

Adult education act develops citizens’ economic independence as a result of better job chances due to progress in education. According to this Act, any American citizen at the age of sixteen or older can apply for participation in an educational program. This policy enables political equality of all citizens. However, AEA also has some limitations. The major one is that non-Americans living in the US cannot participate in the program. AEA has great respect and recognition since it was one of the first attempts to raise people’s well-being by providing them with educational options.

Adult education and family literacy act suggests even more opportunities than AEA does. This policy was developed for adults who would like to combine raising children, work, and obtaining education. Family literacy act defends the rights of people who failed to receive education before starting a family but who strive to gain the best life for their children. Special considerations should be made for those participating in AEFLA.

First of all, people should have better opportunities for flexibility and availability, as they have even less time than other working adults. On the downside, AEFLA does not have sufficient funding for such areas as technical and technology assistance, activities aimed at professional development, and combination of literacy instruction with training professional skills. When the allotment of funding is reconsidered, this policy will become even more productive.

Taking into consideration all the advantages and disadvantages of AEA and AEFLA, both of these policies are quite successful in promoting literacy among adult population of the USA.


. (1991). Web.

. (2014). Web.

Center for applied linguistics. (2010). Education for adult English language learners in the United States: Trends, research, and promising practices. Washington, DC: Caela Network.

. (1998). Web.

Fowler, F. C. (2013). Policy studies for educational leaders: An introduction (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Kazis, R., Callahan, A., Davidson, C., McLeod, A., Bosworth, B., Choitz, V., & Hoops, J. (2007). Adult learners in higher education: Barriers to success and strategies to improve results. Washington, DC: ETA Occasional Papers.

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