Literacy Action

“GAIN is a very accurate assessment. It’s just one test and a much easier process to manage.”

Taking Action Against Illiteracy

According to census data, nearly 20% of Atlanta’s adult population – over 800,000 people – is functionally illiterate. Functional illiterate individuals have some math, reading and writing ability, but lack the skills needed to deal with common, everyday tasks such as understanding directions, balancing a checkbook and operating a computer. Compounding the issue, illiteracy is an inter-generational problem. Children of illiterate parents commonly have poor school achievement and drop out before graduating high school.

Literacy Action, founded in 1968, works to improve the lives of Atlanta area adults and their families by providing GED prep, math and English classes, as well as training in financial literacy, computer skills, and life and work skills development. They average between 600-700 low income students each year, a number that is on the rise as evidenced by the nearly 1000 students served in 2010.

Paige Pushkin, the Director of Operations for Literacy Action, explains that their retention rates are also increasing, up to 85% from 50% now that the center has changed their curriculum to a semester-based schedule.

Another recent change for Literacy Action is their switch to the Wonderlic General Assessment of Instructional Needs (GAIN)® basic skills test.

“We liked the simplicity of GAIN,” says Paige, explaining why they switched. “We don’t have to give a locator and sift through books anymore.”

Prior to replacing their old testing method with GAIN, the assessment process for incoming students stretched across two days and required manual tracking of test scores in a spreadsheet. Now, Literacy Action staff is able to look up scores in seconds online.

“We love that the scoring is done online! It’s an incredible timesaver to be able to use the computer for everything instead of doing it manually,” Paige explains.

The GAIN report is used by Literacy Action to help place students in the correct classes when they enter the program, and also to ensure they continue moving up levels as their education progresses.

“The report is very specific – it doesn’t waste anyone’s time. Our students are taking time out of their busy lives to reach a goal and we want to help them learn in the most effective way we can. GAIN helps us do that very well.”

Paige expects to see the efficiency of instruction increase as teachers maximize what they’re able to do for each student. She is also looking forward to the ability to report educational outcomes more easily through the state integration GAIN offers to all programs using LACES software.

GAIN has already made a positive impact on the lives of the students at Literacy Action, and Paige does not hesitate to share their stories with her peers in the adult education industry.

“GAIN is a very accurate assessment. It’s just one test and a much easier process to manage.”