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Statistics in Brief:

Participation in Basic Skills Education: 1994-95

March 1997

Contact: Peter Stowe

Authors: Kwang Kim and Mary Collins (Westat, Inc.)

(NCES 97-325) Ordering information

One of the National Education Goals states that, "By the year 2000, every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy..." (National Education Goals Panel 1994). One of several important areas related to this goal is basic education for adults who have interrupted their formal schooling or left school before completing a high school diploma. In the 1995 National Household Education Survey (NHES:95), information was collected about the participation of adults in basic skills education, that is, adult education programs designed to help adults improve their basic reading, writing, and math skills or to prepare them to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent (e.g., certificates obtained through General Educational Development testing, or GED\1.) Information about the participation of adults in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs was collected separately in the NHES:95 survey, and a separate forthcoming report will address issues related to participation in ESL programs.

Basic skills education, for purposes of this report, includes basic reading, writing, and math programs, GED preparation programs, and other high school completion programs. This report presents rates of participation in basic skills education, examines how these rates are associated with the characteristics of adults, describes selected features of participation, and discusses reported barriers to participation. Three participation rates are examined in this report: (1) the basic skills education participation rate, referring to the combined educational activities of basic reading, writing, and math programs, GED preparation programs, and other high school completion programs; (2) the basic reading, writing, and math participation rate; and (3) the GED or other high school completion participation rate. Respondents in the NHES reported their participation based on their understanding of the activities involved, and readers should not assume that the respondents' definitions are the same as those of federal, state, or private programs in basic skills.

The population of interest for this report includes adults who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, those who received a high school credential through GED testing in the previous year, and those age 20 and older who received a high school diploma in the previous year. Those without a high school diploma are traditionally recognized as file population of interest for basic skills education. It is for this reason that persons age I6 and older who received a GED in the previous year and persons age 20 and older who received a high school diploma in the previous year are included in the population of interest; that is, they were without a high school diploma or GED for at least part of the previous year. Adults ages 16 to 19 who received a high school diploma in the previous 12 months are not included in the population of interest because they are presumed to have received a "regular" high school diploma.

Information about participation in the previous 12 months was collected in the NHES:95. Key findings concerning participation in basic skills education are as follows:

Basic skills education

About 1.8 million adults participated in basic skills education during the 12 months prior to the interview. This represents a participation rate of 5.9 percent among the population of interest (described above).

Younger adults were more likely to participate in basic skills education than older adults, and adults ages 55 and older were less likely to participate than those in any younger age group.

About 1.5 million adults received a GED or were age 20 and older and earned a high school diploma in the 12 months prior to the interview. Of these adults, 31 percent participated in basic skills education during the 12-month period covered by the survey and the remaining 69 percent did not.

Two-thirds of participants in basic skills education (66.5 percent) attended for 13 weeks or less in the previous 12 months.

Some 80.3 percent of the participants reported that they spent $100 or less to pay for basic skills education including tuition, books, transportation, child care, and other expenses over the previous 12 months.

Lack of time was cited as the main barrier to participation by 42.4 percent of nonparticipants who were interested in basic skills education and aware of available basic skills classes or activities. Another 20.3 percent reported money or cost as a main barrier.

GED or other high school completion programs

Adults who completed 9th to 12th grade, but had not received a high school diploma or GED, had a higher rate of participation in GED or other high school completion programs (6.7 percent) than adults with fewer years of formal schooling (0.2 percent for those who completed up to 4th grade; 1.6 percent for those who completed 5th to 8th grade).

Employed or unemployed adults had a higher rate of participation in GED or other high school completion programs (14.8 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively) than adults who were not in the labor force (2.0 percent)\2.

The NHES:95 was a random-digit-dialing telephone survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It was conducted in January through April of 1995. In the Adult Education component of the NHES:95, interviews were conducted with adults age 16 and older who were not enrolled in elementary or secondary school at five time of the interviews. A description of the study methodology is presented in five Survey Methodology and Data Reliability, section of this report.

Population of Interest for Basic Skills Education

An important issue in studying the participation of adults in basic skills education is how to define the population of interest (i.e., adults who could potentially benefit from participation in basic skills education). One approach, the one used in this report, includes adults in the population of interest on the basis of educational attainment. Beder (1991) states that this approach has been found to be pragmatic and precise when estimating participation rates in basic skills education nationally. Moreover, under the Adult Education Act of 1966 (as amended by Public Law 100-297), federal funds for adult education are allocated to each state based on the portion of the adult population that lacks a high school diploma.

Three criteria were used in this report to identify the population of interest who might have benefited from participating in basic skills education during the previous 12 months. Of the 190 million adults age 16 years and older in the total population, an estimated 31 million adults (16.5 percent; table 1) met one of the following criteria:

(1) Had not received a high school diploma or its equivalent;

(2) Received a high school credential through GED testing in the previous 12 months; or

(3) Was age 20 or older and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the previous 12 months (as noted previously, those age 16 to 19 who received a high school diploma in the previous 12 months are presumed to have a "regular" high school diploma).

Further information on the population of adults without a high school diploma or equivalent is provided in the section on Survey Methodology and Data Reliability.

Participation Rates and Demographic Characteristics

As shown in table 2, about 5.9 percent of the population of interest (1.8 million adults) participated in basic skills education in 1994-95\3. The rate of participation in GED or other high school completion programs (4.9 percent) was higher than in basic reading, writing, and math programs (2.2 percent). Among the participating adults, about 38 percent took basic reading, writing, and math programs and about 84 percent took GED or other high school completion programs. About 23 percent of the participating adults took part in both basic reading, writing, and math programs and GED or other high school completion programs (not shown'in table)\4.

Table 2 presents participation rates in basic skills education by selected demographic characteristics. Three variables (i.e., the adult's age, highest grade completed, and labor force status) are discussed in detail in the following sections because they were found in a multiple regression analysis to have a statistically significant association with participation in basic skills education\5. Other variables shown in table 2 (i.e., race and ethnicity and number of minors in the household) are not discussed in this report\6. These data are included in the table as they may be of interest to some readers\7. More detailed information about five three models tested in the regression analysis and the fit of the three models that were tested can be found in the Survey Methodology and Data Reliability section of this report.

Age. Beder (1990) points out that a large portion of adults age 60 and older are among the population of interest for basic skills education, but these older adults perceive little need to participate in these activities. For this reason, participation rates in basic skills education may be expected to diminish as adults grow older. Adults were grouped into four age categories in order to examine participation rates in basic skills education by age (see table 2). For basic reading, writing, and math programs, the observed participation rate of adults in the youngest age group (6.2 percent of 16- to 24-year- olds) was higher than that of adults in the older age groups (0.2 percent of 55 years and older). Similarly, the observed participation rate for GED or other high school completion programs was significantly higher for the youngest group than for the oldest group (20.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively). Less than 1 percent of the adults in the oldest age group, 55 years and older, participated in any basic skills education. These findings about the association between age and participation are consistent with information from the GED Testing Service, which reports that 802,745 adults took the GED test in 1995, with about 62.3 percent of the GED candidates under the age of 25 and the average age being 25.2 years (GED Testing Service 1996). While test taking is not the same as educational program taking, these related phenomena both show more activity among younger adults. Also shown in table 2, adults age 39 and younger were more likely to participate in GED or other high school completion programs than to participate in basic reading, writing, and math programs.

Highest grade completed. Adults who have completed most of their elementary and secondary education are closer to completing a high school education, and therefore would need to invest less time and money to obtain their high school credentials than those who have completed fewer years of schooling. Hence, one might hypothesize that participation rates may be higher for those who have completed a higher grade in school than those with less schooling. On the other hand, it may be hypothesized that those who have completed less schooling may be lacking in basic skills to a greater degree, and therefore may be considered to be more "in need" of additional education. The findings from the NHES:95 are consistent with the first of these hypotheses.

The rate of participation in GED or other high school completion programs was higher among adults who completed 9th to 12th grade (6.7 percent) than among those who completed 8th grade or less (0.2 percent for no formal schooling to 4th grade; 1.6 percent for 5th to 8th grade; table 2). Adults who completed 9th to 12th grade, but did not have a high school diploma or GED, were more likely to participate in GED or other high school completion programs (6.7 percent) than in basic reading, writing, and math programs (2.3 percent). About one-third of adults who received a high school diploma or GED in the previous 12 months reported participating in basic skills education.

Labor force status. Adults who were in the labor force. whether employed or unemployed, were more likely to participate in basic skills education than adults who were not in the labor force (9.6 percent for employed; 15.5 percent for unemployed; 2.6 percent for those not in the labor force). This pattern bolds true for participants in basic reading, writing, and math programs and GED or other high school completion programs. One of several possible interpretations of these findings is that those who are not in the labor force do not see the advantage of participating in these programs to the same extent as those in the labor force. For example, those who are not in the labor force may not realize the return on investment (e.g., wage or salary increase) as much as those in the labor force. As seen in table 2, employed or unemployed adults participated at a higher rate in GED or other high school completion programs than adults who were not in the labor force; this may be because they perceived a GED or high school completion as an advantage in obtaining a job.

Distributions of the characteristics of participating adults in basic skills education (including basic reading, writing, and math programs and GED or other high school completion programs) are shown in table 7.

Features of Participation

Two aspects of participation in basic skills education are included in this report: the number of weeks and hours per week of instruction and personal expenses for participating in basic skills education. These two areas are also related to the selected barriers to participation discussed in the following section: time and money or cost.

Weeks of participation. Two-thirds of basic skills education participants (66.5 percent) reported that they participated for 13 weeks or less in the previous 12 months (table 3). About 18.7 percent of the participants took basic skills education from 14 to 26 weeks in the previous year, and the remainder of the participants (14.8 percent) attended basic skills education for 27 weeks or longer. There was considerable variation in the number of weeks for which adults participated in basic skills education in the previous year -- a range from 1 to 52 weeks, with an average of 10 weeks (not shown in tables). This is the same as the median of 10 weeks reported in a national evaluation study of federally funded adult basic education (ABE;) programs (Development Associates, Inc. 1994). Some of these adults may have begun their participation prior to the start of the 12-month reference period for this study or may have continued after the time of the NHES:95 interview. As a result, the measure of participation during the previous 12 months does not necessarily reflect the entirety of adults' periods of participation.

Hours per week of participation. Two-thirds of the participants (64.1 percent) reported that they took part in basic skills education for 10 hours or less per week in the past 12 months (table 3). About 27.1 percent of the participants took basic skills education from 11 to 20 hours per week, and the remainder of the participants (8.9 percent) attended basic skills education for more than 21 hours per week. On average, the participants spent 15 hours per week in basic skills education (not shown in tables). In an evaluation of ABE programs, Development Associates, Inc. (1994) reported that ABE students receive a median 31 hours of instruction within 12 months of their enrollment. Participants in the NILES, which include those in basic reading, writing, and math programs, those in GED preparation, and those in high school completion programs, report considerably more hours of instruction (a median of 10 weeks and a median of 11 hours per week).

Personal expenses. Federal, state, and local governments, as well as private organizations, have played an important role in funding basic skills education programs. As shown in table 3, about 80.3 percent of the participants in basic skills education reported that they spent $100 or less of their personal resources in order to participate in programs, including paying for tuition, books, transportation, child care, and other expenses over the previous 12 months. About 19.7 percent paid more than $100. The average amount of personal expenses was $289 for participants in basic reading, writing, and math programs only and $171 for participants in GED or other high school completion programs only (not shown in tables). Federal ABE programs are prohibited from charging participants for classes; however, some participants in such programs may have reported personal expenses (e.g., transportation or child care) in the NHES.

Aspects of Nonparticipation

Interest and knowledge of basic skills education. The vast majority of the population of interest (94.1 percent, or 29 million adults) did not take part in any basic skills education in the 12 months prior to the interview. Nonparticipants in basic skills education (except adults who received a high school diploma from foreign countries within the previous year) were asked about whether they had an interest, in taking any programs and, if so, whether they knew of any programs they could have taken. As shown in table 4, about 4.6 million adults (15.9 percent of the 29 million nonparticipating adults) reported that they were interested in participating in basic skills education and about 1.6 million adults (34.6 percent of the 4.6 million interested nonparticipants) knew of classes or programs they could take to improve their basic skills. These findings are congruent with the literature stating that nonparticipants are often not interested in taking any programs or that they are unaware of any programs they could take (Cross 1981; Darkenwald and Merriam 1982).

Main barriers to participation. Those nonparticipating adults who stated that they had an interest and knew of programs or classes they could have taken were asked about barriers to participation\8. As shown in table 5, time was reported as the main barrier by 42.4 percent of this subset of the nonparticipating adults, a higher percentage than for money or cost. Money or cost was identified as the main barrier by one-fifth of the nonparticipants.

Because the standard errors associated with these estimates are large (due to the small sample sizes), only fairly large differences are statistically significant. For example, no significant differences were observed between adults in different age groups with regard to the reported main barrier to participation. Labor force status, however, was associated with the main barrier to participation. Employed adults were more likely to report time as the main barrier to participation than adults who were not in the labor force. On the other hand, adults who were not in the labor force cited other barriers (including child care and transportation) more often than adults who were employed.

Summary

About 1.8 million adults (5.9 percent of the population of interest) were engaged in basic skills education in the 12-month period prior to the NHES:95 interview. The population of interest includes adults age 16 and older and not enrolled in elementary or secondary school who (1) did not have high school diploma or its equivalent; (2) received a high school equivalency certificate in the previous year through GED testing in the 12 months prior to the interview; or (3) were age 20 or older and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the 12-month period prior to the interviews.

Participation in basic skills education was more common among younger than older adults and those who obtained a high school completion credential in the previous 12 months than those who did not. Adults who completed 9th to 12th grade (but did not have a high school diploma or GED) were more likely to have participated in GED or other high school completion programs than adults with fewer years of formal schooling. Similarly, adults in the labor force participated in GED or other high school completion programs more than adults who were not in the labor force.

About two-thirds of the participants took part in basic skills education for 3 months or less in the previous 12 months. About four-fifths of the participants reported that they used $100 or less of their personal resources to participate in basic skills education.

The vast majority of nonparticipating adults in the population of interest reported that they were not interested in taking basic skills education. About one-third of those who had an interest reported they knew of programs or classes they could have taken. Nonparticipating adults who had an interest in participating and knew of classes to take were asked about barriers to participation; they were more likely to report time as their main barrier to participation than money or cost.

Survey Methodology and Data Reliability

The 1995 National Household Education Survey is a telephone survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's (NCES). Data collection took place from January through April of 1995. The sample is nationally representative of all civilian, noninstitutionalized persons in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The sample was selected using random-digit-dialing methods and included persons living in households with telephones. The data were' collected using computer-assisted telephone interviewing technology. This section provides a brief description of the study methodology; further details appear in the National Houxehold Education Survey of 1995: Adult Education Data File User's Manual (Collins et al. 1996).

The Adult Education component of the NHES:95, which is the basis of this report, sampled civilian adults who were age 16 and older and not enrolled in elementary or secondary school at the time of the interview. A set of screening questions was administered to an adult member of the household to collect the information required for sampling household members for interviews. Adults who did not receive a high school diploma or its equivalent and who had participated in an educational activity in the previous 12 months were sampled at higher rates than other adults. In general, one adult was selected per household. However, up to two adults were eligible to be sampled in households in which any adult was classified as an adult education participant without a high school diploma or its equivalent. Weighting procedures were used to adjust for differences in probabilities of selection.

In the adult education interview, information was collected about educational attainment, participation in a wide range of education activities in the previous 12 months, and labor force participation. The only person who could respond to the adult education interview was the sampled adult him/herself; multiple attempts were made to complete interviews with persons not available at the time of selection. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish. A total of 19,722 adult education interviews were completed in the NHES:95.

While this report focuses on the participation of adults ill basic skills education and barriers to participation, other uses of the NHES:95 data include specifics of participation in five additional types of adult education activities -- English as a Second Language, credential programs, apprenticeship, work-related courses, and personal development courses -- including the role of employers as providers and sponsors of educational activities and the reasons adults participate.

Logistic regression analysis. The adult characteristics presented in tables 2 and 7 were subjected to a logistic regression analysis in order to identify whether the adult characteristics were each significantly related to participation in basic skills education when other variables of interest were included in the regression model (table 6). The item asking whether a high school credential received in the previous year was acquired through GED testing was omitted from the regression model, since this variable is a correlate of participation and a potential outcome measure and not an adult characteristic. The procedure used for this analysis was WESLOG, a software program using a replication method to take into account the complex sample design. A main effects model was used for this procedure, because the intent was to identify variables significantly associated with participation.

The results of the regression analysis indicate that four variables were significantly associated with participation in basic skills education at the 95 percent confidence level. These variables include age, highest grade completed, labor force status, and black race. The other variables included in the models (i.e., Hispanic origin and whether or not there were minor children in the household) were not found to be significantly related to participation in basic skills education. The parameter estimates and t value for the adult characteristics are shown in table 6.

In logistic regression models, some researchers evaluate the fit of the model by using a statistic that indicates how much the set of predictor variables influences the goodness of fit Chi-square statistic. One such measure is R2LA which is almost equal to the proportional reduction in the Chi-square statistic or the log-likelihood due to the inclusion of the predictor variables. It would be exactly equal to this reduction except for some adjustments for the number of predictor variables in the model. Thus, a value near 0 indicates the predictors have little impact on the value of the log-likelihood but a value near 1 suggests the predictors have a large impact.

This statistic is somewhat analogous to the ordinary R2 for linear regression models; however, in linear models the R2 measures the exact reduction in variation due to the predictor variables. In fact, R2 is defined exactly as a ratio of variances. No such measure exists for logistic models. More information on the interpretation of the R2LA statistic is given by Menard (1995).

Three main-effects logistic regression models were examined to help guide this analysis: one for predicting the probability of being a participant in basic skills education, another for being a participant in basic reading, writing, and math programs, and the third for being a participant in GED or other high school completion programs. Each model included the following predictor variables: labor force status, age, indicator variable for being black, an indicator variable for being Hispanic, whether minor children were in the household, and highest grade completed. For the three models, the R2LA statistics were 0.215, 0.117, and 0.239, respectively. The four predictor variables found to be statistically significant in any of three logistic models were age, labor force status, highest grade completed, and black race. In this report, however, the discussion in the text focuses on the three predictor variables, including age, labor force status, and highest grade completed.

Population of adults without a high school diploma. The NHES estimate of the number of adults in the United States who do not have a high school diploma is considerably lower than the estimate from the 1990 decennial census. Similarly, the estimate from the Current Population Survey (cPs) of 1994 (the population totals used in weighting the NHES) is also lower than the estimate from the decennial census. While factors such as the passage of time and mortality may have some impact on these estimates, the more important differences have to do with population coverage and the specific questions used to identify the population of interest for basic skills.

The decennial census represents the entire population of the United States, whereas the NHES and the CPS are household-based surveys. Therefore, the census estimates include many persons, such as those who are in prisons or other institutions, in addition to persons in households. The census estimate of the total number of persons 16 and older in the U.S. population who are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma is 42.7 million. Using the NHES and CPS questions on highest grade or year of school completed, the estimated numbers of persons age 16 and older and not in elementary or secondary school who do not have a diploma are 36.4 million (NHES:95) and 35.8 million (1994 cPS).

For purposes of identifying the population of interest for this report, additional questions from the NHES:95 were used. A followup question to the item on highest grade or year of school completed asked specifically if the person had a high school diploma or equivalent, another question asked whether the diploma or equivalent had been received in the previous 12 months, and a third question asked whether the credential had been obtained through GED testing. These items were used to arrive at the final population of interest for this report, an estimated 31 million adults.

Data reliability. Estimates produced using data from the NHES:95 are subject to two types of error, sampling errors and nonsampling errors. Nonsampling errors are errors made in the collection and processing of data. Sampling errors occur because the data are collected from a sample rather than a census of the population.

Nonsampling errors. Nonsampling error is the term used to describe variations in the estimates that may be caused by population coverage limitations and data collection, processing, and reporting procedures. The sources of nonsampling errors are typically problems like unit and item nonresponse, the differences in respondents' interpretations of the meaning of the questions, response differences related to the particular time the survey was conducted, and mistakes in data preparation.

In general, it is difficult to identify and estimate either the amount of nonsampling error or the bias caused by this error. This is particularly problematic inrandom-digit-dialing surveys because so little is known about the sampled telephone numbers and households (Groves et al. 1988). Since nonresponse is an important source of nonsampling error in the NHES:95, an NCES Working Paper (Brick and Broene forthcoming) was prepared to address this issue. The results of this research uncovered no large response biases, however, as noted, the analysis is limited because so little is known about nonresponding households.

In the NHES:95, efforts were made to prevent nonsampling errors from occurring and to compensate for them where possible. For instance, during the survey design phase, focus groups and cognitive laboratory interviews were conducted for the purpose of assessing respondent knowledge of the topics, comprehension of questions and terms, and the sensitivity of items. For a discussion of the use of cognitive laboratory research in the NHES in general, see Nolin and Chandler (1996). The design phase also included a multiphase field test in which about 550 adult education interviews were conducted. A special effort was made to include adults with relatively low educational attainment (in a "seeded" field test sample) in order to test questions pertaining to basic skills education.

An important source of nonsampling error for a telephone survey is the failure to include persons who do not live in households with telephones. About 95 percent of all adults age 16 and older live in households with telephones. Noncoverage is associated with socioeconomic status, such that persons with lower education and/or lower income levels are more likely to live in nontelephone households. Estimation procedures were used to help reduce the bias in the estimates associated with excluding the 5 percent of adults who do not live in telephone households. See Brick (1996) for additional information on population coverage and adjustment procedures.

Response rates.. In the NHES:95, a set of screening questions (Screeners) were completed with 45,465 households, with a response rate of 73.3 percent. Of the 23,969 adults sampled for tile Adult Education component, 80 percent (19,722) completed the interview. Thus, the overall response rate for the adult education interview is 58.6 percent (the product of the Screener response rate and the adult education interview completion rate). As noted above, nonresponse analysis conducted for the NHES:95 uncovered no large biases, but this analysis is limited by the fact that little is known about nonresponding households in RDD surveys.

For the adult education interview, item nonresponse (the failure to complete some items in an otherwise completed interview) was very low for most items. The item response rates for all variables in this report are higher than 92 percent; most are over 95 percent.

Sampling errors. The sample of telephone households selected for the NHES:95 is just one of many possible samples that could have been selected. Therefore, estimates produced from the NHES:95 sample may differ from estimates that would have been produced from other samples. This type of variability is called sampling error because it arises from using a sample of households with telephones, rather than all households with telephones.

The standard error is a measure of the variability due to sampling when estimating a statistic; standard errors for estimates presented in this report were computed using a jackknife replication method. Standard errors can be used as a measure of tile precision expected from a particular sample. The probability that a population parameter obtained from a complete census count would differ from tile sample estimate by less than 1 standard error is about 68 percent. The chance that the difference would be less than 1.65 standard errors is about 90 percent, and that the difference would be less than 1.96 standard errors is about 95 percent.

Standard errors for the estimates are presented in the tables. These standard errors can be used to produce confidence intervals. For example, an estimated 5.9 percent of adults participated in basic skills education in the previous 12 months, and this figure has an estimated standard error of 0.49. Therefore, the estimated 95 percent confidence interval for this statistic is approximately 4.9 to 6.9 percent (5.9 + 1.96 (.49)). That is, in 95 out of 100 samples from the same population, the population parameter should fall within the confidence intervals so constructed.

The tests of significance used in this analysis are based on Chi-squared tests for bivariate relationships and Student's t statistics for the comparison of individual estimates. The Rao-Scott Chi-squared test was used to take into account the complex sample design. As the number of comparisons at the same significance level increases, it becomes more likely that at least one of the estimated differences will be significant merely by chance, that is, it will be erroneously identified as different from zero. Even when there is no statistical difference between the means or percentages being compared, there is a 5 percent chance of getting a significant t value from sampling error alone. As the number of comparisons increases, the chance of making this type of error also increases. A Bonferroni adjustment was used to correct Student's t tests for multiple comparisons. This method adjusts the significance level for the total number of comparisons made with a particular classification variable. All the differences cited in this report are significant at the 0.05 level of significance after a Bonferroni adjustment.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the following people who reviewed this report and provided helpful critique and suggestions: Katho, n Chandler, Mike Cohen, Jim Houser, Steven Kaufman, Daniel Kasprzyk, Andrew Kolstad, and Marilyn McMillen, NCES; Ron Purgsley, Jim Parker, and Carroll Towey, U.S. Department of Education; Janet Baldwin, American Council on Education; Hal Beder, Rutgers University; and Elizabeth Hayes, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Endnotes

1/General Educational Development, or GED, actually refers to a test through which adults may obtain a high school equivalency certificate. In common use, however, this equivalency certificate itself is often referred to as a "GED," and programs offered to those preparing to take the test are often called "GED preparation programs."

2/Includes adults who are neither working nor actively looking for work (e.g., retirees, homemakers, students, the ill, and disabled adults) (Cohany, Polivka, and Rothgeb 1994).

3/In the field test of the NHES:95 Adult Education component, a small number of adults who had obtained high school diplomas in foreign countries reported that they had taken basic skills or GED preparation programs h~ the United States. This is not an indication that all persons with foreign high school diplomas could substantially benefit from basic skills education. Rather, anecdotal information from respondents indicates that some employers or educational institutions may require an academic credential received in this country. Of the 197,400 (standard error = 50,982) adults who received high school diplomas from a foreign country but did not have college or university degrees, an estimated 46,374 (standard error = 21,855) adults reported that they participated in basic skills education in the 12 months prior to the interview. The criteria for inclusion in the population of interest for this report were applied without regard to the country in which the respondent's education took place. Therefore, if the respondent received a high school diploma or high school equivalency in another countrv in the 12 months prior to the interview, and met other criteria (i.e., age) for the population of interest, they are included in this report.

4/Standard errors for the estimates not appearing in tables are 38 percent, s.e. = 3.74; 84 percent, s.e. = 2.75; 23 percent, s.e. = 3.39.

5/The regression analysis used a subsample of 2,526 cases (93.5 percent of the total sample of the population of interest) for whom the highest actual grade completed was reported in the interview.

6/The variable for black race was significantly associated with participation in GED or other high school completion programs, but the bivariate relationship of race and participation in basic skills education' is not discussed in this report.

7/These variables have been widely used in studies focusing on basic skills education to present the profiles of the population of interest. Examples of the studies include American Council on Education and Educational Testing Service (1995); Anderson and Darkenwald (1979); Kirsch et al. (1993); and Development Associates, Inc. (1993).

8/Two studies, a reinterview study and a response bias study, were undertaken as part of a set of activities to assess data quality in the NHES:95. The analyses of these studies identified some of the barriers items as having relatively high response variability and response bias. While the sample sizes for these data quality studies were small, the findings suggest that the responses to the barriers items may not be very reliable. Readers who are interested in additional information on the reinterview study and the bias study may wish to review two NCES Working Papers: The 1995 National Household Education Survey: Reinterview Results for the Adult Education Component (Working Paper 96-14); and Estimation of Response Bias in the NHES: 95 Adztit Education Survey (Working Paper 96-13).

References

American Council on Education and Educational Testing Service. (1995). The Literacy Proficiencies of GED Examinees. Washington, DC.

Anderson, R.E, and Darkenwald, G.G. (1979). Participation and Persistence in American Adult Education. New York: College Entrance Examination Board.

Beder, H. (1990). Reasons for nonparticipation in adult basic education. Adult Education Quarterly, (40), 207-218.

Beder, H. (1991). Adult Literacy: Issues for Policy and Practice. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company.

Brick, J.M. (1996). Undercoverage Bias in Estimation of Characteristics of Adults and O- to 2-Year-Olds in the 1995 National Household Education Survey. NCES Working Paper 96-29. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, .

Brick, J.M., and Broene, P. (forthcoming). Unit and Item Response Rates, Weighting, and Imputation Procedures in the 1995 National Household Education Survey. NCES Working Paper. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, .

Brick, J.M., Kim, K., Nolin, M.J, and Collins, M.A. (1996). Estimation of Response Bias in the NHES: 95 Adult Education Survey. NCES Working Paper 96-13. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, .

Brick, J.M., Wernimont, J., and Montes, M. (1996). The 1995 National Household Education Survey: Reinterview Results for the Adult Education Component. NCES Working Paper 96-14. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, .

Cohany, S.R., Polivka, A.E., and Rothgeb, J.M. (1994). Revisions in the Current Population Survey Effective January 1994. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Collins,A.M., Brick, J.M., Kim, K., Gilmore, S., and Stowe, P. (1996). National Household Education Survey of 1995: Adult Education Data File User's Manual. NCES Publication No. 96-826. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, .

Cross, K.P. (1981). Adults as Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Darkenwald, G.G., and Merriam, S.B. (1982). Adult Education: Foundations of Practice. Harper & Row.

Development Associates, Inc. (1993). National Evaluation of Adult Education Programs: Profiles of Client Characteristics. Arlington, VA.

Development Associates, Inc. (1994). National Evaluation of Adult Education Programs: Patterns and Predictors of Client Attendance. Arlington, VA.

GED Testing Service. (1996). Who took the GED? The GED 1995 Statistical Report. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.

Groves.R.M., Biemer, P.P., Lyberg, L.E., Massey, J.T., Nicholls, W.L., and Waksberg, J. (Eds.). (1988). Telephone Survey Methodology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Kirsch,I.S., Jungeblut, A., Jenkins, L., and Kolstad, A. (1993). Adult Literacy in America: A First Look at the Results at the National Adult Literacy Survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, .

Menard, S. (1995). Applied Logistic Regression Analysis. Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, 07-106. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

National Education Goals Panel. (1994). The National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners. Washington, DC.

Nolin, M.J., and Chandler, K. (1996). Use of Cognitive Laboratories and Recorded Interviews in the National Household Education Survey. NCES Publication No. 96-332. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 1.--Number and percent of adults\1, by criteria for inclusion in the population of interest
          for basic skills education\2: 1994-95
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------        
		        Criteria                        Number           s.e.	      
		                                    (in thousands)  (in thousands)  Percent  s.e.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total adults                                           189,576	         153         100.0   0.00
Adults who did not receive a high school
  diploma or its equivalent                             29,727	         643          15.7    .34
	
Adults who were 16 to 19 years old and
  received a high school credential through
  GED in the past 12 months                                213            43            .1    .02
	
Adults who were 20 years or older and
  received a high school diploma or its
  equivalent in the past 12 months                       1,288	         129            .7    .07
	
Adults who are not included in the population
  of interest                                          158,347           666          83.5    .33
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
l/Includes civilian, noninstitutionalized adults, age 16 or older, who were not enrolled in
elementary or secondary school at the time of the interview.
2/Three criteria were used: (1) did not have a high school diploma or its equivalent; (2)
received a high school credential through GED testing in the last 12 months; or (3) was age 20 or
older and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the last 12 months.
NOTE: s.e. is standard error. Because of rounding, details may not add to totals.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, , National
Household Education Survey (NHES), spring 1995.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 2.--Percent of adults\1 who participated in basic skills education, by adults' characteristics: 1994-95
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
	                                                                     Type of basic skills education
	                                                                              participation\2
                                                                          ------------------------------------------
		                 Estimated population                           Basic reading,    GED or other high
	Adult characteristic         of interest       Basic skills education  writing, and math  school completion
                                  (in thousands)                                   programs	      programs
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Number   s.e.	      Percent     s.e.         Percent     s.e.      Percent   s.e.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                            31,229   617            5.9       .49           2.2        .25        4.9      .43
Age
  16 to 24 years                  3,573   224           23.1      2.55           6.2	   1.20       20.3     2.41
  25 to 39 years                  6,878   381            9.1      1.18           3.6        .67        8.1     1.13
  40 to 54 years                  6,019   298            5.4       .93           3.2        .80        3.9      .73
  55 years and older             14,758   514             .4       .16            .2        .14         .2      .08
Race and ethnicity
  White, non-Hispanic            18,227   545	         4.6       .56	         1.5	    .29        3.9      .49
  Black, non-Hispanic             5,305   228            7.9      1.39	         3.0	    .64        7.2     1.33
  Hispanic                        6,127   189	         7.5      1.20	         3.2	    .81        5.9     1.08
  Other races, non-Hispanic       1,570   153	         7.6      2.49	         3.5	   1.22        6.2     2.32
Highest grade level\3
  No formal schooling to
  4th grade                       2,528   209	         1.7      1.23	         1.6	   1.23         .2      .10
  5th to 8th grade               10,396   424	         2.3       .47	         1.2	    .40        1.6      .40
  9th to 12th grade, but no
    high school diploma or GED   16,872   468	         7.5       .64	         2.3	    .29        6.7      .63
Received a high school
diploma or GED in the past year
  Yes                             1,501   129	        31.0      4.49	        11.9	   2.80       26.7     4.22
  No                             29,727   643	         4.6       .40	         1.7	    .22        3.8      .37
  Labor force status
  Employed, in labor force       10,643   443	         9.6       .95	         3.7	    .50        8.1      .80
  Unemployed, in labor force      2,177   207	        15.5      2.93	         5.2       1.07       14.8     2.91
  Not in labor force             18,409   560	         2.6       .44           1.0	    .33        2.0      .33
Minor children in household
  None                           19,141   583	         3.0       .35	         1.1	    .19        2.4      .34
  One child                       4,907   323	         9.9      1.41	         3.9	    .71        8.6     1.17
  Two or more children            7,181   481	        10.7      1.28	         4.0	    .87        9.2     1.23
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
l/Includes civilian, noninstitutionalized adults, age 16 or older, who were not enrolled in elementary or
secondary, school at the time of the interview and who met one of the following criteria: (1) did not have a
high school diploma or its equivalent, (2) received a high school credential through GED testing in the last 12
months, or (3) was age 20 or older and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the last 12 months.
2/About 23 percent of the participating adults took part in both basic reading, writing, and math programs and
GED or other high school completion programs.
3/Excluded from the "highest grade level" are those who reported that they obtained a high school diploma or
GED in the last 12 months. but did not report their highest grade level prior to receiving their high school
diploma or GED, or those who reported that they had a vocational diploma, an associate's degree, or some
college, but did not receive a high school diploma or GED. Among the population of interest for this report,
there are about 1,432,162 adults (5 percent of the population of interest) who did not report their highest
grade level; about 10 percent of them (148,199 adults) are 16 to 19 years old and 90 percent of them (1,283,963
adults) are age 20 and older.
NOTE: s.e. is standard error. Because of rounding, details may not add to totals. This table contains row
percentages of participation rates in basic skills education. For example, 5.9 percent of 31,229,000 adults
reported that they have participated in basic skills education in the 12 months prior to the interview.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, , National Household Education
Survey (NHES), spring 1995.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 3.--Number and percent of adults* who participated in basic skills education, by length and cost of
          participation: 1994-95
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
	                                               Adults who participated in basic skills education
                                                    ------------------------------------------------------
        Length and cost of participation       Number           s.e.	    Percent   s.e.
                                           (in thousands)  (in thousands)	
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------	
Total                                           1,827           147	     100.0     --
Number of weeks of participation
 1 to 13 weeks                                  1,215           123	     66.5     3.26
 14 to 26 weeks                                   342            55	     18.7     3.01 
 27 to 52 weeks                                   270            52	     14.8     2.55
	
Number of hours per week of participation
 1 to 10 hours                                  1,170           110	     64.1     3.21
 11 to 20 hours                                   495            78	     27.1     3.33
 21 hours or more                                 162            32	      8.9     1.81
	
Personal expenses
 $100 or less                                   1,467           139	     80.3     2.70
 More than $100                                   360            50	     19.7     2.70
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Includes civilian, noninstitutionalized adults, age 16 or older, who were not enrolled in elementary or
secondary, school at the time of the interview and who met one of the following criteria: (1) did not
have a high school diploma or its cquivalenk (2) received a high school credential through GED testing in
the last 12 months, or (3) was age 20 or older and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in
the last 12 months.
NOTE: s.e. is standard error. Because of rounding, details may not add to totals.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, . National Household
Education Survey (NHES), spring 1995.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 4.--Number and percent of nonparticipating adults\l who were interested in and knew of basic skills
          education: 1994-95
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
	                                  Adults who did not participate in basic skills education\2
                                   -----------------------------------------------------------------------
	Interest and knowledge            Number           s.e.       
	                              (in thousands)  (in thousands)  Percent   s.e
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                                   29,250             651         100.0	--
 
Interested in taking basic skills
education
 Yes                                     4,637             309          15.9   1.04
 No                                     24,614             658          84.1   1.04
Knew of classes they could have
taken\3
 Yes                                     1,603             156          34.6   2.85
 No                                      3,034             258          65.4   2.85
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
l/Includes civilian, noninstitutionalized adults, age 16 or older, who were not enrolled in elementary or
secondary school at the time of the interview and who met one of the following criteria: (1) did not have
a high school diploma or its equivalent, (2) received a high school credential through GED testing in the
last 12 months, or (3) was age 20 or older and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the
last 12 months.
2/Excludes adults who did not participate in basic skills education and received a high school diploma
from foreign countries in the past 12 months (about 151,000 adults).
3/This question was asked of only nonparticipating adults who were interested in participating in basic
skills education.
NOTE: s.e. is standard error. Because of rounding, details may not add to totals.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, , National Household
Education Survey (NHES), spring 1995.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 5.--Number and percent of nonparticipating adults\1 who reported main barriers to participation in basic
          skills education, by adults' characteristics: 1994-95
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
	                     	  Number of adults\2 who	
	                   	  were asked about main      Main barries to participation in basic skils education   
	Adult characteristic	barriers to participation   --------------------------------------------------------
	                             (in thousands)              Time      Money or cost  Other barriers\3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                                     
                                 Number         s.e.    Percent   s.e.    Percent   s.e.   Percent    s.e.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------	
Total                             1,559         154       42.4     4.79	    20.3     4.27    37.2     6.25
	
Age 
 16 to 24 years                     416          83       39.7    10.42     20.1     5.75    40.2     10.68
 25 to 39 years                     704         106       37.1     6.48	    24.6     7.16    38.3      8.94
 40 to 54 years                     314          84       54.3    10.99	    16.3     7.13    29.4     11.55
 55 years and older                 --           --        --       --       --       --      --       --                
    
Labor force stat
 Employed, in labor force           900         131       64.8     4.73	    16.4     4.12    18.8      5.06
 Unemployed, in labor force         --           --        --       --       --      --      --         --
 Not in labor force                 434          87        8.0     4.09     21.8    10.57    70.1     10.95
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1/lncludcs civilian, noninstitutionalized adults, age 16 or older, who were not enrolled in elementary or
secondary. school at the time of the interview, who did not participate in basic skills education, and who met
one of the following criteria: (I) did not have a high school diploma or its equivalent, (2) received a high
school credential through GED testing in the last 12 months, or (3) was age 20 or older and received a high
school diploma or its equivalent in the last 12 months.
2/Questions about main barriers to participation in basic skills education were asked only of nonparticipating
adults who were interested in, knew of any basic skills education they could have taken, and reported that at
least one of the primary, barriers (i.e., time, money or cost, child care, transportation, or other barrier) was
a major or minor obstacle. Among nonparticipating adults, about 44,000 adults who reported that time, money or
cost, child care, transportation, or other barriers were not an obstacle were excluded.
3/includes child care (16 percent) and transportation (10 percent), as well as "other" barriers volunteered by
respondents (12 percent). Some of these other barriers include family obligations, caring for sick or elderly
family members, being elderly, work responsibilities, and health-rdated reasons. Adults who were not in the labor
force more often reported other barriers as their main barrier when compared to those who were employed. This may
reflect that those not in the labor force may be older. on average, or may bear significant family
responsibilities.
--Unweighted number of cases is less than 30.
NOTE: s.c. is standard error. Because of rounding, percents may not add to 100.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, . National Household Education
Survey (NHES), spring 1995.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 6.--Logistic regression analyses* of adult characteristics and participation in basic skills
          education, basic reading, writing, and math programs, and GED or other high school completion programs:
          1994-95
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
		                 Participation in basic skills	  Participation in basic 	Participation in GED or
		                          education             reading, writing, and math	high school completion
	Parameter                                                      programs             	programs
                             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Parameter             t              Parameter      t         Parameter       t
                             estimate                             estimate                 estimate
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Age                            -.08             -11.10              -.05       -5.55         -.09       -10.48
Highest grade completed         .06          	  1.01               .01         .05          .13         2.90
Employment status
 (employed vs. not employed)   -.28           	 -2.31              -.27       -1.35         -.32        -2.72
Black                           .49               2.03               .60        1.71          .57         2.12                
Minor children in household     .23         	  1.03               .51        1.54          .29         1.36
Hispanic origin                -.16               -.64              -.05        -.14         -.10         -.36
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*The regression analysis used in the highest grade completed as reported by the respondents. That is, respondents
who reported actual highest grade regardless of whether they had already received a high school diploma or GED
were included in the regression analysis. Some respondents, when asked their highest grade, reported the highest
"regular" school grade they completed and then reported in the next item that they had a diploma or equivalent.
Some adults in the population of interest reported at the "highest grade" question that they had a high school
diploma or equivalent and therefore were not asked to report the highest grade completed. These adults were
excluded from the regression analysis.
NOTE: The critical t value at the 95 percent confidence level is 1.96.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, , National Household Education
Survey (NHES), spring 1995.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 7.--Percent of adults\1 participating in basic skills education, by adults' characteristics: 1994-95
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
	                                                                  Type of basic skills education
	                                                                         participation\2
                                                                            ------------------------------------------
                               Estimated population		                 Basic reading,	 GED or other high
      Adult characteristic         of interest       Basic skills education  writing, and math  school completio
                                  (in thousands)	                          programs           programs
                              --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
	                        Number    s.e.	     Percent	   s.e.   Percent     s.e.   	Percent      s.e.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                         31,229      617	      100.0        0.0     100.0      0.0        100.0       0.0
Age
 16 to 24 years                3,573      224	       45.1        3.58     31.9      5.55	  46.9       4.21
 25 to 39 years                6,878      381          34.4        3.43     35.5      5.48        36.1       3.79
 40 to 54 years                6,019      298	       17.7        2.68     28.0      5.79        15.2       2.80
 55 years and older           14,758      514           2.8        1.25      4.6      2.98         1.8        .75
Race and ethnicity
 White, non-Hispanic          18,227      545          45.5        3.67     40.5      5.88        45.6       4.27
 Black, non-Hispanic           5,305      228	       23.0        3.20     23.0      4.70        24.9       3.50
 Hispanic                      6,127      189          25.0        3.69     28.6      5.73        23.3       4.07
 Other races, non-Hispanic     1,570      153	        6.6        2.10	     7.9      2.74         6.3       2.30
Highest grade level\3
 No formal schooling to
  4th grade                    2,528      209	        2.8        2.02      7.4      5.46          .3        .20
 5th to 8th grade             10,396      424	       15.3        2.66     23.0      6.15        13.0       2.89
 9th to 12th grade, but
  no high school diploma
  or GED                      16,872      468	       81.9        3.15     69.6      7.66        86.7       2.90
Received a high school
diploma or GED in the
past year
 Yes                           1,501      129	       74.5        2.91     74.4      5.03        74.0       3.63
 No                           29,727      643	       25.5        2.91     25.6      5.03        26.0       3.63
Labor force status
 Employed, in labor force     10,643      443	       55.7        3.56     56.4      6.30        55.8       3.76
 Unemployed, in labor force    2,177      207          18.5        3.00     16.2      3.10        20.9       3.37
 Not in labor force           18,409      560	       25.8        3.42     27.4      6.71        23.4       3.25
Minor children in household
 None                         19,141      583	       31.6        3.39     30.8      5.67        29.7       3.56
 One child                     4,907      323	       26.6        3.00     27.5      4.40        27.3       3.51
 Two or more children          7,181      481	       41.9        3.75     41.7      6.63        43.0       4.66
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1/Includes civilian, noninstitutionalized adults, age 16 or older, who were not enrolled in elementary or secondary
school at the time of the interview and who met one of the following criteria: (1) did not have a high school
diploma or its equivalent, (2) received a high school credential through GED testing in the last 12 months, or (3)
was age 20 or older and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the last 12 months.
2/About 23 percent of the participating adults took part in both basic reading, writing, and math programs and GED
or other high school completion programs.
3/Excluded from the "highest grade level" are those who reported that they obtained a high school diploma or GED in
the last 12 months, but did not report their highest grade level prior to receiving their high school diploma or
GED, or those who reported that they had a vocational diploma, an associate's degree, or some college, but did not
receive a high school diploma or GED. Among the population of interest for this report, there are about 1,432,162
adults (5 percent of the population of interest) who did not report their highest grade level; about 10 percent of
them (148,199 adults) are 16 to 19 years old and 90 percent of them (1,283,963 adults) are age 20 and older.
NOTE: s.e. is standard error. Because of rounding, details may not add to totals.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, , National Household Education Survey
(NHES), spring 1995.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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