Lesson 5: Answers Illinois State Library

1. Why do literacy programs test adult learners?
Assessment validates what the adult learner already knows. When assessment is mentioned to learners, the tutor needs to talk about finding out what the adult learner brings to the learning experience. Adults have a lifetime of knowledge, an array of expertise and competencies that the tutor can discover through assessment. Assessment will first show that the adult learner already knows more than they think they know. That will help the tutoring situation since no one wants to reinvent the wheel. Initial assessment will establish the learners areas of competence so no one wastes time reintroducing what a learner already knows and so that instruction can proceed and build on the learner's strengths. The process may be less than fun, but it can engage the learner and the tutor as they look at the results and try to figure out the competencies they will need to achieve the learner's goals.

2. Why is it essential to pre- and post-test adult learners?
How can we know where we have been unless we measure? How can we know how close we are to our goals unless we measure? Pre- and post-tests are the measurements used in adult education and literacy to assess what learners know initially (prior knowledge), what they have learned (progress), and whether they have achieved their goals. In addition, pre- and post-tests are often a requirement of the funding agency.