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Adult Education and Literacy Activities

Defining adult education and associated terms.

29 USC §3272. Definitions

The term "adult education and literacy activities" means programs, activities, and services that include:

  • Adult education
  • Literacy
  • Workplace adult education and literacy activities
  • Family literacy activities
  • English language acquisition activities
  • Integrated English literacy and civics education
  • Workforce preparation activities
  • Integrated education and training

Adult Education

The term ''adult education'' means academic instruction and education services below the postsecondary level that increase an individual's ability to: (A) read, write, and speak in English and perform mathematics or other activities necessary for the attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent; (B) transition to postsecondary education and training; and (C) obtain employment.


The term "literacy" means an individual's ability to read, write, and speak in English, compute, and solve problems, at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual, and in society.

Workplace Adult Education and Literacy Activities

The term "workplace adult education and literacy activities" means adult education and literacy activities offered by an eligible provider in collaboration with an employer or employee organization at a workplace or an off-site location that is designed to improve the productivity of the workforce.

Family Literacy Activities

The term "family literacy activities" means activities that are of sufficient intensity and quality, to make sustainable improvements in the economic prospects for a family and that better enable parents or family members to support their children's learning needs, and that integrate all of the following activities:

  1. Parent or family adult education and literacy activities that lead to readiness for postsecondary education or training, career advancement, and economic self-sufficiency.
  2. Interactive literacy activities between parents or family members and their children.
  3. Training for parents or family members regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children.
  4. An age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.

English Language Acquisition Program

The term "English language acquisition program" means a program of instruction:

  1. designed to help eligible individuals who are English language learners achieve competence in reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension of the English language; and
  2. that leads to:
    1. attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent; and
    2. transition to postsecondary education and training; or
    3. employment.

Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE)

The term "integrated English literacy and civics education" means education services provided to English language learners who are adults, including professionals with degrees and credentials in their native countries, that enables such adults to achieve competency in the English language and acquire the basic and more advanced skills needed to function effectively as parents, workers, and citizens in the United States.

Such services shall include instruction in literacy and English language acquisition and instruction on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and civic participation, and may include workforce training.

Workforce Preparation Activities

The term "workforce preparation activities" means activities, programs, or services designed to help an individual acquire a combination of basic academic skills, critical thinking skills, digital literacy skills, and self-management skills, including competencies in utilizing resources, using information, working with others, understanding systems, and obtaining skills necessary for a successful transition into and completion of postsecondary education or training, or employment.

Integrated Education and Training (IET)

IET is a service approach that provides adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement (§463.35).

An IET program must include the following three components: 1) adult education and literacy activities; 2) workforce preparation activities; and 3) workforce training (§463.36). In addition, as part of a career pathway (§463.37), the design of an IET program should support the local and state workforce development board plans as required under WIOA.


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