ERIC Number: ED258146
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Feb
Reference Count: 0
What Is Literacy in the United States? Reading Competencies and Practices. Technical Report #5.
Guthrie, John T.; Kirsch, Irwin S.
Growing scientific literature provides a perspective of literacy that is at variance with traditional points of view, which see literacy as a unitary, dichotomous, psychological capability that is learned with the appropriate educational opportunity. However, an individual is not easily categorized as literate or illiterate. While the goal is to ensure that every adult will be able to understand all printed materials likely to be encountered in everyday life, it is unreasonable to suppose that there is one measure of a unitary competency that can be partitioned into two levels to divide literates from illiterates. Attempts of this sort ignore the pluralism of the social and occupational conditions in which people live, the diversity of uses for reading, and the variability of demands for literacy within the United States. A better question is, "Do people exhibit activities and competencies that satisfy the demands for literacy in their social contexts?" The answer to this question requires (1) a description of the demands for literacy within defined social situations, (2) the competencies needed to meet these demands, and (3) the activities or practices of literacy. These sets of information may be juxtaposed to observe the degree of correspondence between the profile of demands and the profile of activities for literacy in a person or group. This correspondence provides a basis for determining the nature and extent of literacy. (EL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Army Research Inst. for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Alexandria, VA.
Authoring Institution: International Reading Association, Newark, DE.