IALSS and the Renewal of the NWT Literacy Strategy Barbara Miron Education, Culture and Employment Government of the Northwest Territories January 29, 2007
Overview • Literacy Challenges in the NWT • NWT Literacy Strategy • NWT Literacy Strategy Renewal • Role of IALSS Data • Policy Implementation
Literacy Challenges in the NWT • NWT population • NWT economy • Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal adult literacy levels • Adult literacy demands
NWT Population • 2005 NWT population was 43,000. • 45% live in the capital city of Yellowknife. • 50% of the population is Aboriginal; 50% is non-Aboriginal. • The NWT has 11 official languages and many diverse cultures.
NWT Economy • Abundant resources in the Northwest Territories support a booming economy. • Three diamond mines operate in the North Slave region. • NWT has huge oil and gas reserves, especially in the MacKenzie Valley and Beaufort Sea. • Skills shortages have impacted the NWT labour market.
Aboriginal/Non-Aboriginal Adult Literacy Levels • NWT adult literacy levels were close to the Canadian average in the 2003 IALSS. • IALSS confirmed the wide discrepancy between NWT Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adult literacy levels in all skill domains, for all age groups, at all levels of educational attainment.
Adult Literacy Needs/Demands • Wherever there are IALSS Level 1 and 2 adults, there is a literacy need. • However, when low literacy adults have no desire to increase their skill levels, there is no literacy demand. • Because of the booming economy, adult literacy needs in the NWT are rapidly becoming adult literacy demands.
NWT Adult Literacy Demands I’m going to tell you a story about my community and every other small Aboriginal community in the Northwest Territories. …The Northwest Territories currently benefits from a booming economy in our back yard. We have three major diamond mines in this territory. We have oil and gas and all the secondary industries that these industries bring with them. …We have more jobs than many parts of Canada. All that looks good on paper…. Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty Northwest Territories Hansard, October 31, 2006.
NWT Adult Literacy Demands …but when I go back to my community, I talk to many of my constituents who, unfortunately, fall within the 69 percent of working age Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories who have literacy challenges and who, as a result…are therefore impacted by other social issues such as equity, power, justice, and their children’s learning and more. Instead of living on the poverty line or filling manual labour positions, these are the people…who could be and should be taking on these high profile management and highly skilled trades positions made available by these industries. Instead…we see southern people…flying over our communities and taking away employment that should be rightfully ours. Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty Northwest Territories Hansard, October 31, 2006.
NWT Adult Literacy Demands • Perfect storm conditions: • Rapid economic growth • Low Aboriginal adult literacy rates • Aboriginal self-government agreements and negotiations. • NWT Aboriginal people are receiving increased control over their lands. • At the same time, they are at risk of being marginalized from economic development because of low literacy levels. • Adult literacy needs have become adult literacy demands.
NWT Literacy Strategy • In July 2000, the NWT Legislative Assembly passed a motion recommending the development of a comprehensive cradle-to-grave Literacy Strategy. • Towards Literacy: A Strategy Framework – 2001-2005 (2001)is the literacy policy document for the Northwest Territories. • A variety of new literacy initiatives have been funded through the NWT Literacy Strategy since 2001.
NWT Literacy Strategy Renewal • The 2001 NWT Literacy Strategy expired in March 2006. • The new NWT Literacy Strategy will be informed by two key data sources: • Literacy Strategy summative evaluation • 2003 IALSS. • The NWT Literacy Strategy summative evaluation, due for completion March 2007, has gathered data from stakeholders and program records.
Role of IALSS Data • 2003 IALSS is baseline data because the NWT did not participate in 1994 IALS. • Prior to IALSS, the best data on adult literacy available to the NWT was self-reported grade levels from censuses. • IALSS data is being cross-referenced with goals, objectives and actions from the 2001 NWT Literacy Strategy. • Recommendations arising from IALSS research will inform the new NWT Literacy Strategy.
School Age Children and Youth IALSS is a survey of adult literacy skills, but there is evidence that parents’ literacy levels have a strong impact on children’s literacy development.
School Age Children and Youth Literacy • The NWT has a high number of IALSS Level 1 and 2 adults, especially amongst the Aboriginal population. • IALSS data on the impact of parental literacy levels and attitudes towards reading indicates that many NWT school children have home environments, which do not promote literacy skills development.
NWT Literacy Strategy –School Age Children and Youth • Increase opportunities for literacy development in the K-12 system. • Ensure appropriate and achievable standards for the assessment of K-12 literacy development are set, progress measured, and results reported. • Involve District Education Authorities/Divisional Education Councils in the promotion and support of community based K-12 literacy initiatives. • Ensure that students who leave senior secondary school have the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to participate in post-secondary education, training, or the workforce. • Improve transferability of courses between high school and adult basic education, training programs and the workplace.
NWT Literacy Strategy – School Age Children and Youth • None of the 2001 NWT Literacy Strategy objectives designed to increase literacy levels in school age children and youth address the issues of parental literacy levels or home environments. • Recommendation for new Literacy Strategy: • To increase literacy levels of school age children and youth, it is essential to include NWT Literacy Strategy objectives, which encourage parental involvement in schooling and foster home environments that promote literacy.
Workplace Literacy IALSS reveals that a significant percentage of NWT Level 1 and 2 adults are in the workplace, so effective workplace literacy programs are crucial to increasing adult skill levels.
Workplace Literacy 2001 NWT Literacy Strategy actions designed to increase adult literacy skills in the workplace: • Develop workplace literacy programs with employers. • Coordinate and share resources among programs. • Recognize and reward innovative and effective workplace literacy programs.
Workplace Literacy • IALSS draws attention to the issue of skills losses: Skills are like muscles that need to be exercised in order to be developed and maintained. • Of particular concern is the low workplace reading, writing and numeracy engagement rates of NWT Level 1 and 2 adults.
Workplace Literacy • Continuing to deliver workplace literacy programs that only address skills deficiencies is akin to pouring water into a leaky bucket. • Recommendation for new Literacy Strategy: • To deliver effective workplace literacy programs, it is essential to include a component, which educates employers about skills losses and encourages them to provide employees with opportunities to use their skills in the workplace.
Adult Literacy and Basic Education Curriculum • NWT Literacy Strategy actions pertaining to the Adult Literacy and Basic Education (ALBE) curriculum: • Implement the adult literacy and basic education curricula. • Develop instructional material to support the standardized curricula for adult educators. • IALSS has impacted ALBE curriculum revision and support activities.
Numeracy and ALBE Math • Content of ALBE Math curriculum corresponds quite closely to IALSS numeracy categories. • Problem is with complexity of ALBE Math courses and low completion rates.
ALBE Math Interventions • Despiralize ALBE Math curriculum to make it more accessible to learners. • Develop new Math resource materials and evaluation tools. • Deliver ALBE Math professional development for adult educators. • Increase emphasis on problem solving and real-life applications.
Problem Solving • The cognitive processes that are activated in the course of problem solving are diverse and complex, and they are likely to be activated in a non-linear manner. Among these processes, the following components may be identified: • Searching for information, and structuring and integrating it into a mental representation of the problem (“situational model”). • Reasoning, based on the situational model. • Planning actions and other solution steps. • Executing and evaluating solution steps. • Continuous processing of external information and feedback. • Recommendation for the new Literacy Strategy: • To facilitate the development of problem solving skills in NWT adults, higher order thinking skills, such as synthesis and evaluation, should be overtly written into the learning outcomes of all ALBE curriculum subjects.
Policy Implementation • A new NWT Literacy Strategy will be completed in the fall of 2007. • Increasing literacy demands have put pressure on the GNWT to produce the most effective Literacy Strategy possible.
Policy Implementation • IALSS data has provided the GNWT with a new lens with which to view literacy initiatives. • New literacy initiatives arising from IALSS recommendations will be implemented as part of the new NWT Literacy Strategy.