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Running Head: DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Developing a Family Literacy Program: Meeting the Needs of Migrant ELLs


Kiera N. Burnett
Fall 2016

Advisor: Barbara Ward


Department of Teaching and Learning
College of Education
Washington State University

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Advisor Approval
As thesis advisor for Kiera Burnett, I have read this paper and find it satisfactory.

Barbara Ward

Date

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Prcis
The aim of this thesis is to identify and analyze current practices in family literacy
programs in the United States. These programs combine adult education, early childhood
education, parenting education, and interactive literacy as an approach to improving school
preparedness amongst lower socioeconomic status children. Family literacy programs support
guardians in developing the skills to serve as advocates for and supporters in their childs
education.
In addition to studying current practices, this thesis analyzes critical program
modifications to meet the needs of English language learners and migrant workers. I chose this
specific focus because I am from a community with a large population of English language
learners and migrant, agricultural workers. As an educator, I have seen firsthand the effect a
guardians English illiteracy and migrant status can have on the education of their child. Through
examining these program modifications, this thesis aims to develop an equitable approach to
school preparedness.
Finally, this thesis examines culturally responsive teaching, a perspective which enables
educators to view student backgrounds as assets in the classroom and to reshape curriculum
accordingly. Because of my experiences with the multicultural makeup of the schools I hope to
teach in, I approached this thesis already believing that culturally responsive teaching would be a
critical element in a successful family literacy program.
I approached this research by beginning with a review of literature. This helped me
understand what the current practices for family literacy were and what programs had done
previously to be successful or unsuccessful. I also drew from my own learning and experiences

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

in the teacher education program and specifically it my literacy, English language learning, and
diversity coursework. From this information, I developed a set of standards outlining key
curricular areas. These clear learner outcomes helped me to develop a family literacy model that
was effectively designed and academically focused. Ultimately, I synthesized my research to
create a model family literacy program that would meet the needs of my home community. This
culmination of my research allowed me to consolidate my learning in a concrete, applicable
manner.
Throughout my research, I noticed a few reoccurring traits and philosophies embodied by
successful family literacy programs. I found that programs which had the greatest effect on
learners considered learner goals, provided individual education plans, utilized supports for
English language learners, taught socioculturally relevant curriculum, and assessed learning in
real world contexts. These programs utilized community resources available and saw learners as
rich funds of knowledge and valid perspectives. When creating my own program, I applied these
principles and more to build on the knowledge of others.
A continuation of this research would undoubtedly involve the implementation of this
program in the Cashmere community for which it was designed. Following a trial period,
practices would be analyzed for effectiveness and broken systems would be replaced.
Additionally research could study the impact these programs had on involved children in a
longitudinal study. It is critical that the successful trends identified in this framework do not
remain theoretical.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Table of Contents
Title Page .. 1
Advisor Approval ...... 2
Prcis ..... 3
Table of Contents ...... 5
List of Figures and Tables ..... 6
Background and Importance of Family Literacy Programs .. 7
Standards for Learning . 11
Adult Education ... 11
Parenting and Health Education ....... 12
Early Childhood Education .. 13
Interactive Literacy... 13
Cultural Responsiveness and Effective Instruction ..... 13
Cashmere, Washington 19
Program Model 22
Philosophy and Goals .. 23
Curriculum and Assessment. 24
Adult education .... 24
Parenting and health education ........ 27
Early childhood education ... 28
Interactive literacy ... 29
Assessment ... 30

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Conclusion ... 31
References .... 32
Appendix A ...... 36
Appendix B ...... 38
Appendix C ...... 40
Appendix D ...... 42

List of Figures and Tables


Figure 1. Hispanic population in schools ..................................................................................... 21
Figure 2. Students enrolled in migrant program ...... 22

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Developing a Family Literacy Program: Meeting the Needs of Migrant ELLs


Background and Importance of Family Literacy Programs
In this thesis, the term literacy is used to describe a cultural construct reflecting the
fluent ability to communicate and act within ones culture. There are many types of literacies
reflective of the skills and abilities valued in a particular culture. Furthermore, in the eyes of
some experts, literacy does not simply refer to a set of skills, but to an individuals ability to use
these skills in real-world contexts (Caspe, 2003, p.1). There remains much debate around the
definition of literacy, but in the United States it is often used to describe the fluent way in which
individuals read, write, and speak a language.
Numerous studies have shown that adult illiteracy, the inability to use literacy skills to
function in society, has significant social, health, and economic consequences for individuals as
well as communities (Marcus, 2006, p. 340). Illiteracy results in various economic challenges
such as difficulty finding a job and lower pay (Education, 2015). Within the context of lower
socioeconomic statuses, social issues arise as well. One study, titled Education Statistics,
describes how low literacy skills correlate with incarceration, citing that 56% of all individuals in
jail have very low literacy skills (2015). This correlation is found in other studies as well,
linking literacy with higher earnings and less criminal activity (Holloway, 2004, p. 89). Another
risk of illiteracy is the perpetuation of health issues due to an inability to communicate in the
medical world. This phenomenon is called health illiteracy (Education, 2015). An inability
to read and communicate in the dominant language can result in misuse of medication and
limited access to treatment options. Due to the high risks associated with illiteracy, there is
urgency in determining how this cycle begins and examining the best way to stop it.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Some of the greatest downfalls associated with illiteracy can be prevented during
childhood. The only shield against the risks of illiteracy is education, whether it be formal or
informal. As a child spends many hours with a guardian before reaching school years, these
guardians serve as the first defenders against illiteracy. Urie Brofenbrenners Ecological
Systems Theory states that a childs growth and learning are influenced by the interaction of
elements in his or her environment (Caspe, 2003, p. 5). In the case of emergent literacy, the most
influential elements include socioeconomic status, race, number of siblings, home language, and
the mothers education level (Yarosz & Barnett, 2001). Past research has highlighted a
correlation between illiteracy and poverty (DeBruin-Parecki, Paris, & Siedenburg, 1997);
however, the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)(2003) has released information
showing that this correlation is not a causation. Despite a childs socioeconomic status, there
remains a positive correlation between a childs literacy experiences at home and his or her
reading ability upon entering school (p. 7). This project specifically focuses on raising guardians
education levels as one of the keys to overcoming other challenges influencing a childs literary
abilities. With literate guardians and access to home literary materials, there exists the potential
to bridge the economic gap in education.
Gaining prevalence since their introduction in the 1980s, despite a significant decrease in
the early 2000s due to funding cuts, family literacy programs may be the answer to challenges
faced by students due to a guardians illiteracy (Pierre et al., 2003, p. 29). These programs are
designed to foster a guardians ability to care for a child while serving as his or her first educator
prior to school enrollment (Padak, Sapin & Baycich, 2002, p. 5; Ponzetti & Dulin, 1997, p. 23).
The concept of family literacy programs originated from the idea of combining adult education

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

programs with early childhood education to make the programs more meaningful for the adults
involved. Researchers have identified a major motivator in adult education to be providing better
opportunities for participants children (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997). Successful programs also
incorporate parenting education and opportunities for guardians to spend time with their
children. These two elements allow individual classroom learning to continue in the home
environment.
Todays family literacy programs are designed to target lower income families as well as
English language learners (ELLs) (Pierre et al., 2003, p. 83). The adults participating in these
programs often are categorized as having low education and reading levels or entirely illiterate.
One survey of family literacy programs cited that the majority of participating parents had
completed at least nine years of formal schooling yet only 21% could read at a ninth grade
reading level (Ponzetti & Dulin, 1997, p. 25). For this reason, a large focus of family literacy
programs is educating guardians so they may serve as role models for their students. Another
focus is teaching adults how to engage in literary experiences such as storytelling, reading,
writing, and singing with their children. While adults are participating in educational programs,
their children are often engaged in literary experiences as well. A final, and critical, element of
family literacy programs is parenting education. Among other things, this includes education on
topics such as discipline, human development, and health (Ponzetti & Dulin, 1997, p. 24). These
subjects are often the basis of issues teachers face when they are not properly addressed prior to
a child entering school. Family literacy programs are a multi-faceted approach to bettering
society by combating illiteracy and preparing children for school.

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Beyond the basic four component model identified above, the focuses of family literacy
programs are often greatly influenced by the source of funding. Researchers surveyed seven
hundred programs across the state of Michigan, identifying fifty programs that best fit their
definition of family literacy. While investigating the programs, surveyors noticed significant
differences between programs funded on national and local levels (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997).
Choosing one from each funding source to study in-depth, researchers compared these programs
to an ideal concept of family literacy. These ideals included guardians engaging with children,
programs meeting individual goals of the learners, and curriculum facilitating learning relevant
to real world contexts. While each program claimed success in reaching their goals, the
nationally-funded program was much more structured and driven by standardized testing
whereas the community-based program was less based on educational theory but more
responsive to individual needs. Even though the nationally-funded program required more
testing, taking away from valuable educational time, it had more stable funding. In contrast, the
community-based program struggled to find consistent funding, but had relatively few
restrictions placed on content and assessment. These vastly different programs both fell short of
an ideal family literacy program due to funding restrictions but had unique successes as well.
From an educators perspective, family literacy programs are a strong approach to
increasing school preparedness. Additionally, early involvement in the education system would
help to bridge the gap for many parents who feel uncomfortable interacting with educators. The
focus of this thesis is to examine current approaches to family literacy in the United States, a
country with a rapidly growing English language learner population who often possess limited
literary abilities. Furthermore, it will investigate practices designed specifically for English

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language learners. Learning a second language adds an extra challenge for these guardians and
demands modified program approaches. Ultimately, this thesis will synthesize information to
create a family literacy model that addresses the needs of the authors home community in
Cashmere, Washington. This program could potentially serve as a model for culturally and
socially responsive family literacy programs.
Despite an immense body of research on family literacy programs and best practices,
there is great variation in how these programs are modeled. This lack of clarity creates a
challenge in assessing program efficacy on a state or national level. Family literacy programs
require some level of standardization so that they may be researched and implemented
throughout the country (Ponzetti & Dulin, 1997, p. 23). With as many definitions of success as
there are programs in this country, the need for clear expectations of outcomes is evident. This
thesis outlines critical practices and measurable outcomes based on a review of literature,
demonstrating the greatest social and educational benefits of family literacy programs. The
standards I created in this thesis are broken into four categories: adult education, parenting
education, early childhood education, and interactive literacy. After analyzing the curriculum of
numerous programs, I wrote these standards to address the most critical areas of learning. They
reflect the analysis of other family literacy programs, identification of program shortcomings,
and synthesis of information to have the greatest contribution to the effectiveness of a family
literacy program.
Standards for Learning
Adult Education
AE.1: Complete education at the high school level or obtain a GED.

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AE.2: Develop work-related skills in preparation for employment.


AE.2.A: Use computers effectively including use of Microsoft Office programs,
typing skills and basic internet searching.
AE.2.B: Communicate clearly and effectively in a professional setting.
AE.2.C: Utilize organizational skills to complete tasks in a timely manner.
AE.3: Read and write proficiently in English.
Parenting and Health Education*
PHE.1: Demonstrate understanding of and implement cognitive aspects of parenting.
PHE.1.A: Conceptualize human development throughout the lifespan, focusing on
development in preadolescence and adolescence.
PHE.1.B: Identify basic safety practices and assess health issues based on
severity, finding help when necessary.
PHE.1.C: Plan meals to meet nutritional needs of children with special attention
given to risks of obesity and diabetes.
PHE.1.D: Use and teach basic consumer skills like money management and
product comparison.
PHE.2: Demonstrate understanding of and implement affective aspects of parenting.
PHE.2.A: Develop a discipline plan for a child, introduce it, and follow it.
PHE.2.B: Describe ways that a guardian can and should get involved in
academics, extracurriculars, and with friends.
PHE.2.C: Identify signs of abuse and discuss the emotional and behavioral
repercussions of these acts.

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*This list of standards was adopted from Ponzetti & Dulin, 1997, p. 24.
Early Childhood Education
ECE.1: Develop early literacy abilities such as letter names and sounds and familiarity
with a book.*
ECE.2: Grow positive attitudes towards reading and other literary experiences.**
*Children of illiterate adults are less prepared for the school environment and have higher
dropout rates than the United States average. (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997)
**At the emergent literacy level, a childs knowledge about and attitude towards reading is more
critical that reading skills as they are a precursor to literacy (Capse, 2003, p. 2).
Interactive Literacy
IL.1: Demonstrate the ability to engage students in home literacy experiences.
IL.1.A: Facilitate conversations about the story and elements with students.
IL.1.B: Engage students in other home literacy experiences such as singing songs,
telling stories, and reading street signs.
IL.1.C: Read aloud to students.

Cultural Responsiveness and Effective Instruction


Research on current family literacy programs has identified key practices and common
shortcomings affecting the effectiveness of these programs. Analysis of this information allows
for identification of trends and creation of more effective programs.
When designing a family literacy program, one of the most critical aspects, and often the
most forgotten, is the incorporation of learner goals. While programs cannot cater to each

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individuals needs, it is critical that they consider what the adult learner wishes to achieve
through attendance (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997). One example of a commonly overlooked
learning need is the ability to communicate within a school setting. Parent-teacher
communication is critical for student success yet consistently intimidating for less educated
guardians. A desired outcome of program participants may be to learn about and practice this
form of communication so they may communicate with their students teachers (Capse, 2003, p.
6). Family literacy programs have been shown to increase a guardians self-esteem, confidence,
and interest in their students education (Primavera, 2000). Most guardians of any socioeconomic
status have limited time and will be resistant to participate in any program that they do not see as
useful for themselves and their children.
It is critical to recognize while there might be general goals set by the program and group
goals set by participants, each learner is going to require different methods to meet those goals.
One family literacy program, identified by DeBruin-Parecki, Paris, and Siedenburg (1997),
created individual education plans for each student based on their stated goals and preexisting
abilities. Any curriculum used to meet the learning standards previously stated should be easily
adaptable to learning needs. One useful way of accommodating varied learners is through the use
of bilingual texts in instruction (Beck, Stevenson, & Fink, 2015, p. 5). This practice employs
Jerome Bruners scaffolding theory, stating that educators must meet learners at their current
academic and linguistic level and provide them with necessary support and smaller learning steps
to achieve their goals and meet defined standards (Lantolf, Thorne, & Poehner, 2015, p. 214).
Furthermore, using bilingual texts supports literacy development in a learners home language.
Research shows that literacy in a learners first language supports literacy development in a

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second language (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004, p. 12). Accommodations such as these allow
the learner to be successful and to control the progression of their learning.
Curriculum not only needs to be designed in a way that it may be adapted to learner
needs, it must also be designed to engage relevant issues in a learners life. Beck, Stevenson, and
Fink (2015) coined the term socioculturally relevant pedagogy (p. 59) to explain this practice.
They found that children of migrant workers preferred reading fictional books about field work
and impermanence and writing about these topics as well (p. 59-61). This finding demonstrated
how learners are better able to connect with topics which relate to their own lives and are even
more motivated to learn when their cultures and experiences are represented (Banks, 2001, p.
243). Instead of writing fictional stories about the circus, learners may connect better with
writing an expository on the difficulties of migrancy. Educators must stray from typical school
activities and engage students through social issues affecting their lives (Capse, 2003, p. 3).
When learning is personal, there is far greater motivation to engage in it. Connecting to the
learners life is one of many ways this thesis aims to examine and employ culturally responsive
teaching, a practice that acknowledges learners home cultures and celebrates multiculturalism
An important clarification in the development of a family literacy program is the
distinction between education and school. The learning occurring in these programs must not
only equate to success in a school setting, but also be applicable in the learners everyday life.
The adult education and interactive literacy portions of a program should not mimic school, but
focus on furthering literacy practices used in everyday life (Capse, 2003, p. 6). In addition to
school-type curriculum, school-type instructional methods may also fall short amongst these
learners. The traditional school model has failed a majority of these adult learners and may seem

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unfriendly and intimidating. By creating a collaborative and problem-solving based environment,


adult students are able to engage in a more authentic learning experience, one they will likely see
modeled in real-world adult conversations (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997).
The final key factor in designing curriculum is the approach educators take towards their
students. With a more traditional school mindset, it is easy to view incoming learners as deficient
and underachieving. Instead of taking this deficit-driven approach, research urges educators to
instead view each learners cultural background and abilities as funds of knowledge
(DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997). This perspective simply means that every learner brings some
type of unique knowledge and background to the table which can and should be built upon and
shape instruction (Gonzlez, Moll, & Amanti, 2006, p. ix). As there is great variety in culturally
relevant knowledge, this again is an example of culturally responsive pedagogies. Programs must
not approach families as though they are deficient and need help; rather they should begin with
an understanding of the abilities upon which they can improve within a literacy context.
Following the design and implementation of curriculum with all the considerations that
entails, learning must be assessed in some manner and results must be used to shape future
instruction. A common difficulty faced by many family literacy programs is the stipulation of
standardized testing upon which the funding is dependent. As funding sources can be temporary
and vary year to year, required assessments may also change (Shanahan, Mulhern, &
Rodriguez-Brown, 1995, p. 592). Educators constantly learning how to interpret a new form of
assessment erodes precious educational time (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997). Another issue with
these assessments is their inability to assess individual growth in a non-standard way. Test
designers do not know the learners they are testing nor their unique abilities and needs

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(Elish-Piper, 2010, p. 192). Regardless of the less than effective assessment strategies mandated,
program developers must find a way to use assessment data, taking into consideration learner
abilities, so that the testing process does not amount to a waste of time. There is valuable
information to be found in these assessments.
The process of assessing student learning should not be limited to one standardized test,
however, and requires close attention. One issue with more traditional paper-pencil tests is that
these learners are not accustomed to the school environment. Instead, research points to the use
of authentic assessment, evaluating student learning with a real-world context (O'Malley &
Pierce, 1996, p. 27). In this way, students move from theoretical demonstration of knowledge
and are able to show understanding in concrete, practical applications. Another form of
assessment that tends to recognize less-traditional student growth is the use of portfolios.
Portfolios allow educators and students to track growth over time through the collection of work
samples. This collection lends itself to identifying the more subtle indicators of improvement.
The final key to effective assessment in educational settings is the use of qualitative feedback.
Research has found the use of a number grade can in fact distract students from learning as they
become preoccupied with grades (Beck et al., 2015, p. 60). In summary, the most effective
assessment practices are not just a box to check but a tool to assist program designers shape
future learning experiences.
Curriculum and assessment form a major chunk of the program design process, but there
are numerous logistical elements as well that shape a students ability to learn. One such element
is the individuals serving as educators and helpers for the program. Whether the majority of these
individuals are paid or volunteer and the availability of support services varies greatly by

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program. However, regardless of funding, there are a few considerations to make and resources
to tap into. Staff members and volunteers should be able to relate to students. This facet of
culturally responsive teaching includes being aware of the students cultures and receptive to the
differences this may entail. Researchers also argue that adults should be taught by members of
the community to which they belong (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997). Students learn better when
they feel that the individuals teaching them understand their background and context.
Additionally, from an economic perspective, it is critical to use all available resources. This is
especially true for rural programs which often lack access to social service agencies (Ponzetti &
Dulin, 1997, p. 24). By tapping into community assets, programs can expose adult students to the
variety of resources available and reduce the program funding needed.
Logistical issues are faced not only by the program, but also by the participants. There
are numerous obstacles that affect a familys ability to participate in literacy programs, such as
lack of transportation, the expense of childcare, time, and migrancy. It is the programs
responsibility to develop methods of reducing these barriers to ensure more consistent and
prolonged attendance of families (DeBruin-Parecki et al., 1997). Another issue arises in the
referral process. If adults do not have preexisting channels of communication with the program,
it is unlikely they will find it in the first place. These are all hurdles that must be addressed in
developing a successful program.
The above pages describe general considerations for the development and
implementation of a culturally-responsive, effective family literacy program. While the topics
addressed reflect some of the most important considerations, equally important is understanding
the community in which a program is situated. The culmination of my thesis is synthesizing the

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research I have done in order to design the most effective program in my home community. By
describing this community and the factors that might influence the success of a family literacy
program, I can be more thorough in my design process. By combining general methodology and
standards with a knowledge of the community, this program can better meet the needs of the
learners it serves.

Cashmere, Washington
When I was fourteen I began learning Spanish at my high school in Cashmere,
Washington. I started working in restaurants as a waitress and used my Spanish frequently
speaking with more affluent members of the Hispanic community. As my proficiency increased, I
began understand conversations of Hispanic families all around me. Living in an orchard, I
would wake up in the morning to the soft hum of conversation from workers who had already
been out in the orchards for many hours. I later worked at a bilingual summer school for
children of migrant workers. For many young children, summer school served as a form of
daycare and a source of at least one meal. Riding the school bus as a translator, I began to
connect with this population. I saw their work and their struggles. The parents I met were trying
to do so much for their children with so few resources. I decided to become an educator in part
so I can serve this population, providing the supports they need and learning from their rich
culture of community. I am designing this program to be implemented in the Cashmere
community so that these people no longer remain an unreached population in my community but
rather one whose children have the opportunities their peers do through the support of their
parents.

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Located in central Washington near Wenatchee, Cashmere, is a rural agricultural


community with a large Hispanic population relative to the entire state of Washington. While a
portion of these Hispanic individuals are second or even third generation residents of Cashmere,
many are new to the city, state, and even country. Due to the immigrant status of their parents,
many members of the second generation face poverty themselves (van Hook, Brown, & Kwenda,
2004, p. 649). Research shows that a large number of adults in the United States do not have
high enough literacy abilities to thrive in the workforce and in society as a whole. Furthermore, it
shows that a disproportionate number of these adults belong to racial minorities with lower
socioeconomic statuses (Kirsch, Braun, Yamamoto, & Sum, 2007, p. 3). In many ways, this
describes the Cashmere community.
A large influence on this population is migrancy. Migrancy is described as any individual
who moves around for seasonal work (See Appendix D). Research has begun to identify the
effect this way of life can have on students. Due to the impermanence of their personal
situations, students struggle to connect in school and often fail to merge their world with the
school world. Children of migrant workers experience a four times higher dropout rate than their
non-migrant peers due to the pressures of working and their inability to relate to the classroom
setting (Beck et al., 2015, p. 59). While family literacy programs are only one part of the puzzle
to solving migrancy-related problems, they are critical in developing employable adults and
reinforcing the importance of education. Any family literacy program model developed for the
Cashmere community must address common issues in implementation of these programs,
incorporate all of the learning standards in the four learning areas, and consider the influence of
migrancy on this population.

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Migrancy can be a major setback in family literacy programs due to participant attrition;
however, the migrant designation may also be an enormous asset. State funds are allocated to
migrant education programs in an attempt to minimize the negative effects of migrancy on
students. The state designates a variety of solutions these funds may be used for, including
Parental involvement, Family home visiting, Preschool programs, Health programs, and
Instructional training, all of which are elements of a family literacy program. As Cashmere has
a migrant program enrollment three to four times greater than Washington state as a whole, these
funds are proportionally greater and could be crucial in funding a family literacy program. The
Hispanic population is also significantly larger in Cashmere than Washington state as a whole
and, with many of these students being ELLs, the need for support programs is clear (Office of
Superintendent of Public Instruction [OSPI], 2016). These two demographic considerations set
the stage for a successful family literacy program in Cashmere.

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Program Model
The program I develop for the Cashmere community meets the learning standards
specified while adhering to the best practice guidelines outlined above. Program coordinators
and developers can achieve this in their own process using the principles of backwards design.
This involves identifying desired outcomes then developing an approach to obtain them
(Wiggins & MacTighe, 2006). By planning curriculum and program structure with the endpoint
in mind, developers are able to ensure that learning and activities are in fact beneficial and
constructive. After researching programs and developing standards to ensure specific learning
remains the focus of the program, I utilized the principles of backwards design to create the
following outline.

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Program Philosophy and Goals


There are four main goals for this program, each of which is attached to a curricular area.
Through adult education, this program aims to educate participants in the English language and
job-related skills so that they may work effectively in society. Through parenting and health
education, participants will learn how to advocate for their students health and education while
utilizing effective parenting skills and enhancing their own healthy lifestyles. The early
childhood education aspect of this program is designed to prepare children for a school
environment and develop positive attitudes toward education. Finally, the interactive literacy
component is designed to facilitate and encourage the relationship of a guardian as the childs
first educator and enhance the transfer of cultural traditions. In these four areas, the program has
developed clear goals that reflect the standards of learning outlined.
This program is intended to meet the standards previously outlined; however, it is more
important to ensure that the learners themselves are represented in the educational process. For
that reason, upon entry to the program participants will fill out the Learner Goals survey (see
Appendix A). The survey has both an English and Spanish version as these are the main
languages spoken by ELLs in the Cashmere community. This multilingual approach implements
principles of universal design for learning so that information can be gathered with minimal
barriers for the learners (Acrey, 2005, p. 23). In this survey, participants will be asked to
designate whether the learning area (as outlined in the standards) is extremely important,
somewhat important, or not at all important to them. The questions I created in this survey
directly connect to a learning standard so that the information gained can be easily utilized in

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determining the time and depth given to each topic while still covering all curricular areas. In
this way, the schedule of the program will be dependent on learner interests.
In addition to evaluating predetermined curricular areas based on importance, participants
will be asked to identify additional goals or areas of study that interest them. These goals will be
addressed through an individual education plan. Following the survey, students will meet
individually with an educator to determine what their individual goals will be, how they will
work towards those goals, and what their desired outcome would be (see Appendix B). In each
class session, students would be given independent work time pursue these personal goals. Staff
would be available during this time to provide support to these individualized endeavors. If
multiple participants had similar goals, small group work or collaboration may result, much like
what would occur in a real world setting. Every learner is unique in the way he or she learners
and the motivation he or she has for doing so. By creating individual goals and providing
students with the time, space, and supports to pursue them, this program recognizes these
differences and is more responsive to learners.
Curriculum and Assessment
Adult education. While some family literacy programs follow an outside curriculum,
this program aims to shape curriculum around learner needs and interests, as described above.
For this reason, the areas of work skills (AE.2), high school completion (AE.1), and English
proficiency (AE.3) will be weighted as determined by the students. Overall, the curriculum and
instruction in this program would break from a traditional school model and transform into an
environment that more closely resembles real-world adult learning communities. This will be
achieved differently in each area of study.

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25

Arguably the most critical of the three areas of adult education is English language
proficiency. Without this, participants are limited in employability as well as school completion.
To build an adult learning community within this curricular area, instruction will be largely
collaborative and discussion based. Not only does this match real-world learning, it also allows
students to practice communication skills in English (AE.3). For written English communication,
students will not be limited to worksheets and other isolated forms of practice. Instead, they will
be asked to practice reading and writing in real-world contexts such as filling out a job
application, reading the newspaper, or comparing product descriptions. The aim of this practice
is to ensure that instruction is socially relevant, meaning that the learning done within the
program is directly relatable to the participants daily lives. Following the model of another
successful family literacy program, English language instruction will also serve as a scaffold for
other areas of adult and parenting education (Shanahan et al., 1995, p. 589-590). Educators can
use this time to introduce vocabulary, grammar, and language functions necessary for engaging
in learning (Rigalla, 2012, p. 222). These practices are practical and allow students to build
communication skills useful to them.
In addition to facilitating the development of social language as detailed above, this
program will also build learners academic language. While this meaning of this term is disputed,
here it refers to the vocabulary, grammar, and language functions required to participate in
academic discourse. Although language learners can develop social language relatively quickly,
typically within 1-2 years, developing proficiency in academic language can take as long as
seven years (Egbert & Ernst-Slavit, 2010, p. 6). While it is likely that students will not reach full
proficiency in academic language before leaving the program, the development of this language

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

26

will be supported throughout the program. One way of doing this is by bringing in student work
and homework containing academic language. By doing this, guardians will have the opportunity
to learn academic language that will in turn allow them to help their children with homework.
This practices is socially relevant and allows for more authentic learning.
Instruction for GED test preparation (AE.1) is more difficult to teach authentically.
However, in breaking with a traditional school model, students will share a role in the instruction
process. Not only does this approach promote engagement and encourage ownership over their
learning, it allows students to share their own knowledge. As discussed previously, each student
enters in with their own background and funds of knowledge that should be utilized and built
upon. If one student has an advanced understanding of geometry, they will collaborate with an
instructor to develop a lesson for the whole class. Building upon learner knowledge allows
students to feel as though they have something important to contribute to the classroom and
engages principles of culturally responsive teaching.
The final portion of adult education is job preparedness skills, including computer
(AE.2.A), organizational (AE.2.C), and communication skills (AE.2.B). These skills are
designed to prepare participants for success in the workplace and to make them more
employable. Instructors will again build upon the pre-existing participant knowledge to
determine what students know and what they need to learn. One way to break from the school
model, and to make the teaching demographic more consistent with that of students, is to engage
the community in instruction. This program will pair with outside sources such as libraries and
local employers to teach these skills. Many libraries have free computer access and often times a
librarian specifically tasked at assisting with computer usage (in the absence of such librarian, a

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

27

computer-savvy community volunteer would work as well). Local employers would also be
beneficial instructors as they know specifically what skills are desirable in the hiring process.
Additionally, this allows participants to make connections with these employers. By engaging
the community in this process, this program is able to increase program outreach while reducing
the number of instructors needed and, therefore, program cost.
The instructional methods used in the adult education portion of this program are
especially important because the majority of participants targeted through this program are
English language learners. Non-native English speakers need certain supports in order to aid
understanding. For example, the use of photographs and other realia will contextualize language
use, making it easier to comprehend than an abstract concept (Egbert, & Ernst-Slavit, 2010, p.
14; Herrell & Jordan, 2008, p. 23-26). Other supports can include gesturing, verbal and written
representations, and the use of bilingual supports when possible. By using many of the same
ELL teaching strategies that would be useful with younger students, teachers can support adult
student learning and build confidence in learners.
Parenting and health education. Once again, in parenting and health education it is
critical to use resources available by engaging the community. For many of the health-related
topics covered (PHE.1.A, PHE.1.B, PHE.1.C, PHE.2.C), guest lecturers could be pulled from the
local hospital, doctors offices, community health organizations, as well as local colleges,
engaging students studying within health-related fields (with proper oversight). This would allow
students to learn from qualified instructors while increasing awareness of the resources available
to them. Trained instructors also ensures the quality of instruction and the validity of information
being shared.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

28

The other areas of parenting and health education, consumer skills (PHE.1.D), discipline
(PHE.2.A), and involvement (PHE.2.B), could be taught effectively utilizing a variety of
instructors. For the involvement lesson, it may be useful to have participants share their own
obstacles and challenges in school involvement so the instruction becomes more of a problem
solving collaboration. The lesson on discipline would follow a similar format of discussion and
collaboration. Participants would receive feedback on the problems they face and then be asked
to create a plan that meets their needs. Finally, for consumer skills, participants would be
informed about various product comparison strategies and shown frameworks for introducing
budgeting to children. This may involve weekly allowances or required savings. Regardless of
how each of the standards is met, it is critical that they are presented in a collaborative,
interactive format where participants may share ideas and receive feedback from peers and the
instructor.
Early childhood education. This portion of a family literacy program has two main
functions. First, it serves as a child care center while adults are engaging in their own learning.
Secondly, it introduces students to literacy experiences, presenting reading and literacy in a
positive light through songs and other fun activities. A major precursor to a childs literary
success is simply how he or she feels about reading (Capse, 2003, p. 2). Therefore, introducing it
in a positive light allows students to successfully engage with their parents and to enter school
with confidence in their abilities (ECE.2) (Padak & Rasinski, 2003, p. 2). Another portion of the
instruction will include the introduction to more concrete literary abilities such as identifying
letter names and sounds (ECE.1) to prepare students for reading experiences in kindergarten. In
this area of the program, volunteers will be pulled from students in the local colleges early

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

29

childhood education program so they may gain experience and the children may have trained
educators. This portion of the program will intentionally resemble a school setting in order to
prepare children for this environment.
Interactive literacy. This is the most critical portion of the program in designating it as a
family literacy program as it harnesses the individual learning done by both guardians and
children and brings them together in a meaningful way. Upon entry to the program, participants
will fill out a survey detailing literacy activities already present in their homes (see Appendix C).
In most situations, guardians are engaging in some of these experiences but fail to recognize their
importance or designation as literary activities. One article eloquently stated, [within a family
literacy program] some educators began to question the appropriateness of imposing a
mainstream model of literacy on families that were clearly not in the mainstream of American
society, (Elish-Piper, 2010, p. 185). By discovering these rich preexisting practices, such as
storytelling, singing, or even just having conversations, instructors may build upon them (Caspe,
2003, p. 4). Guardians enter the program as experts on their child, a position that must be
respected in this program. This culturally responsive practice brings into the program an element
of multiculturalism and a celebration of the learners background. Beyond encouraging these
practices, interactive literacy will have guardians practice reading aloud to students (IL.1.C) in
whatever language they can and having conversations with children about the material they are
reading (IL.1.A). To facilitate this read aloud and conversation, it may be necessary to acquire
books in the guardians native language. To do this, this program will again partner with the
local library and explore grant options for these resources. Reading time allows guardians to
serve as the educators for their children while demonstrating to them the importance of reading.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

30

Assessment. In each of the areas designated above, it is critical to assess learning in order
to monitor student progress towards learning goals. This assessment is particularly important for
the adult education portion as these learners use the assessment information to monitor their own
progress. Instructors must take special caution in this area as it is easy for learners to feel that
their success is determined by a grade. The majority of the learning activities adults engage in
should be met with qualitative feedback on their growth and understanding. The result of this
feedback would best serve participants as a tool to refocus learning rather than an emphasis on
numerical success. Another critical assessment method that will be utilized in this program is
authentic assessment through the use of portfolios. Portfolios allow learners to track their growth
over time rather than measuring understanding at one moment in time. Using these assessment
strategies monitors progress over time but keeps student focus on what is important, learning.
Outreach and Social Supports
Numerous constraints exist that may limit an individuals ability to participate in the
program. The solution to these constraints varies by program location as well as demographic;
therefore, the following are recommendations based on the Cashmere communitys particular
needs. The demographic in Cashmere is largely Hispanic, comprising nearly forty percent of the
school enrollment in the 2015-16 school year, and as a result has created a close community and
support system (OSPI, 2016). To draw in participants, this program will hold open houses in
which instructors and participants are encouraged to bring family and friends. In this way,
knowledge of the program will spread in the community in which the need is greatest. In order to
negate transportation issues, classes could be held in a major area such as the local library. These
public spaces are often already built into the public transportation system and, therefore, easy to

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

31

reach. To assist adults needing childcare for older children, the program could be extended to
encompass school-age children in leveled classrooms. Instruction in each room would be age
appropriate and volunteers would again be drawn from local early childhood education
programs. Finally, in response to the constraint of migrancy and limited participation as a result,
this program includes a heavy focus on job-related skills with the hopes this would result in more
regular employment. As more needs and constraints arise, it will be the staffs job to think
creatively in developing solutions to maintain enrollment.

Conclusion
The above model addresses both the standards for family literacy programs and best
practices for culturally responsive teaching. The integration of these elements within the context
of family literacy allows for more effective and socially relevant instruction. It is important to
recognize that this framework is tailored to a specific community and adaptations must be made
to suit other environments. To allow for this adaptation, the above model is not intended to be a
day-by-day plan, but rather a framework for development and implementation within ones
constraints. By following this model, and giving thought to the considerations it describes,
developers can create a program that is beneficial to students and impactful in communities.
When designed well, these programs have the power to bridge gaps in education and break down
social barriers. Family literacy programs welcome diverse perspectives and cultures into an
educational environment emphasizing multiculturalism among young learners. When all adults
feel they have a critical role in their childs education and the tools to fulfill this role, children
will enter the classroom more prepared and able to learn.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

32

References
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MA: Harvard Family Research Project.
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DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

36

Appendix A
Learner Goals Survey
Please rate the following areas of study based on how important they are to you.
Very
Important

Somewhat
Important

Not Very
Important

Adult Education
Completing high school/ getting a GED
Developing professional job skills
Learn to read and write better in English
Parenting and Health Education
Learn about human development
First aid/ knowing about health issues
Nutrition, obesity and diabetes
Consumer skills ( teaching money skills)
Creating a discipline plan
Getting involved in your childs schooling
Signs and effects of abuse
Please describe any other learning goals you may have either for yourself or about parenting.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

37

Apeo de Metas
Valora los siguientes sujetos de importancia personal.
Muy
Importante

Media
Importante

Poco
Importante

Educacin de Adultos
Terminar con escuela secundaria
Desarrollar habilidades profesionales
Aprender a leer y escribir en ingls
Educacin de Salud y Ser Padre
Aprender sobre el desarrollo humano
Problemas de salud/ auxilio primero
Nutricin, obesidad y diabetes
Habilidades de consumidor/ administrar dinero
Crear plan de disciplina
Involucrarse en la escuela de su hijo
Signos y efectos de abuso
Describe otras metas escolsticas que tengas para tu propio mismo o su habilidad de ser padre.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Appendix B
Individual Education Plan
What are some personal learning goals you have during this program?

Why are these goals important to you?

How do you plan to reach this goal?

How can we help you reach this goal?

38

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Plan Individual para la Educacin


Cules son algunas metas personales que tengas para su aprendizaje?

Porque son importantes estas metas?

Cmo vas a realizar estas metas?

Cmo podemos ayudarte realizarlas?

39

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

40

Appendix C (Kim, 2007, p. 33)


Literacy at Home
1. How often do you explicitly teach your child Spanish? (words or grammar)
never

1-2 per month

once a week

2-4 per week

5+ per week

101-200

more than 200

2. About how many childrens books are in your home?


less than 10

10-50

51-100

3. How often do your family members read books, newspapers, and magazines?
never

1-2 per month

once a week

2-4 per week

5+ per week

4. How often do your family members read books, newspapers, and magazines with your
child?
never

1-2 per month

once a week

2-4 per week

5+ per week

2-4 per week

5+ per week

2-4 per week

5+ per week

5. How often do family members read books to your child?


never

1-2 per month

once a week

6. How often does your child read at home on his/her own?


never

1-2 per month

once a week

7. About how many books (including picture books) does your child read in a week?
none

1-2 books

5 books

10 books

15+ books

2-4 per week

5+ per week

8. How often do you or a family member sing to your child?


never

1-2 per month

once a week

9. How often do you or a family member tell stories to your child?


never

1-2 per month

once a week

2-4 per week

5+ per week

2-4 per week

5+ per week

10. How often do you help your child with homework?


never

1-2 per month

once a week

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

41

El Alfabetismo en la Casa
1. Con cul frecuencia le enseas espaol a su hijo? (palabras o gramtica)
nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

101-200

ms que 200

2. Cuntos libros de nios tienes en su casa?


menos que 10

10-50

51-100

3. Con cul frecuencia leyen miembros de tu familia? (libros, peridicos, o revistas)


nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

4. Con cul frecuencia leyen miembros de tu familia con su hijo? (libros, peridicos, o
revistas)
nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

5. Con cul frecuencia le leyen miembros de tu familia libros a su hijo?


nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

6. Con cul frecuencia lee tu hijo independientemente?


nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

7. Cuntos libros (incluyendo los con fotos) lee tu hijo en una semana?
ningn

1-2 libros

5 libros

10 libros

15+ libros

8. Con cul frecuencia le cantan t o miembros de tu familia a tu hijo?


nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

9. Con cul frecuencia le cuentan historias t o miembros de tu familia a tu hijo?


nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

10. Con cul frecuencia le ayudan con tarea t o miembros de tu familia a tu hijo?
nunca

1-2 de mes

semanal

2-4 de semana

5+ de semana

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Appendix D

42

DEVELOPING A FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

43