Working Papers (

Document Type

Technical Report

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The supply-demand equations for adult literacy instruction in the United States are complicated by (a) changing demands for basic skils in the workplace, (b) an increased in immigrants who have limited command of English, (c) changing federal welfare policies, and (d) limited awareness on the part of those with low reading and writing ability that their skills are not sufficient for everyday literacy needs. This paper reviews critical features of the supply of literacy instruction, drawing on recent state and national surveys of service providers and of technology; data on the demand for literacy instruction; the recent National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS); and studies of adult literacy participation. Attention is given especially to the types of data that are required for modeling of supply and demand. The paper concludes that the supply-demand characteristics in U.S. literacy policy have not been well understood, that supply and demand are often poorly equlibriated, and that recent national studies can provide useful guidance toward providing a better balance between supply and demand.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Published as NCAL Technical Report TR94-10 by the National Center for Adult Literacy (NCAL). NCAL is associated with the International Literacy Institute (ILI), housed within the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.



Date Posted: 25 April 2018