Supporting Literacy Tutors


UPDATE 3/24/2015  See an archived introductory webinar on this Tutor Ready resource.


This effort is part of the ongoing commitment to encourage collaboration between adult education and public libraries, as documented in the OCTAE-IMLS Dear Colleague Letter. 

Volunteer tutors are an important part of the adult literacy solution. Last year alone, ProLiteracy, a national member organization of volunteer literacy providers, reported 99,415 volunteer tutors serving 245,173 learners.

Volunteers work with youth and adult learners one-on-one and in small groups, providing the critical learning elements of personalization, extra practice and feedback, as well as motivational support and guidance.  From English conversation groups to algebra explanations to phonics practice, tutors fulfill a unique role in our nation’s efforts to boost adult literacy.

However, as volunteers, they may not have access to all the professional learning and support that they need or want. Additionally, when training is delivered before tutors and learners are matched, the training may not be contextualized to a learner’s particular strengths, interests, and challenges.

There is a new resource that offers online learning support for literacy tutors called Tutor Ready Learning PlansTutor Ready Four Quadrant

Tutor Ready puts tips and techniques into a just-in-time format organized around the four essential components of reading: alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Within each component, content is presented in a quick index of questions commonly asked by tutors such as, “How can I help my learner perceive the different sounds that make up a word?” Explanations and sample lessons are drawn from a robust body of research, including Teaching Adults to Read and Improving Adult Literacy Instruction. Tutors can jump to an immediately relevant question, or go through the content in a more linear and comprehensive fashion. The tips are enriched by a collection of over 60 video and audio clips of experienced tutors working with adult learners to demonstrate the techniques.

Tutor Ready is freely available and accessible so tutors can log in to their own learning plan anytime or anywhere, and the Plans can be used before, during, and after a tutoring session.

Literacy programs can use Tutor Ready in their pre- and in-service tutor training efforts and as supplemental support for their tutors to use on their own. The Tutor Ready Learning Plans complement freely available online courses that provide more in-depth coverage of the research and instructional practices and award certificates of completion.

Tutor Ready learning plans were created by LINCS’ Region 4 Professional Development Center with the support of the OCTAE, in partnership with the Literacy, Language and Technology Research group at Portland State University. Tutor Ready is built on the Learner Web platform that was created by Portland State University in part with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Tutors and learners in the San Jose and Santa Clara City, CA and Boulder, CO public libraries pilot tested the materials, and the California programs provided videos of the techniques in action. Dissemination partners include the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Library Association Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, and ProLiteracy.


Libraries and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

This article is cross-posted on the UpNext! blog hosted by IMLS and the Department of Labor blog.

Guest authors: Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor

Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, and

Susan Hildreth, Director of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services


Our agencies have long recognized the role of libraries to help meet the workforce training and job search needs of the American public.  At the height of the recession, more than 30 million people reported using library computers for workforce related needs and 3.7 million of them reported finding work.  Today, 96 percent of libraries surveyed offer online job and employment resources and 78 percent offer programs to help people apply for jobs.

In July, the President signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) which strengthens and aligns Federal employment, education, and training servicesOverwhelmingly approved by both the House and the Senate, the legislation is the result of a bipartisan agreement that recognizes the vital role the workforce system plays in providing the services and resources job seekers need to access the kinds of skills training, career information, and education that are required for today’s job market. The Act aligns with and complements the President’s Vision for Job-Driven Workforce Development, as it prepares workers for 21st century jobs and ensures American businesses have skilled workers to be competitive in global economy.

We are pleased that WIOA includes several exciting changes that better align federal resources and call for local community-based partnerships to increase access to services.  WIOA explicitly identifies public libraries as potential partners of the American Job Center network, and acknowledges libraries’ ability to provide an expansive array of job search services. It also recognizes libraries as important providers of federally supported training and employment for adult education and literacy. WIOA instructs state and local workforce development boards to boost “digital literacy skills” at American Job Centers – a task perfectly suited to public libraries!

We are delighted that the role public libraries play in workforce development is being acknowledged. Every day, people in communities across the United States use libraries to access the Web for career development—boosting their skills through online learning, improving their English literacy and digital literacy, and finding work. Public libraries can do even more with better collaboration with state and local workforce boards.

We thank American Job Centers, the nation’s employment skills training programs, and public libraries for all they do to serve our nation’s job seekers and contribute to the country’s economic vitality.   Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we will deliver better coordinated services so that students and jobseekers acquire the skills needed in a competitive 21st century economy.

See other collaborative efforts:


USDA SNAP Employment and Training Webinar

Join the upcoming webinar: SNAP Employment and Training Pilots – An Information Session on the Request for Applications.

Date & Time: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 3:30-4:30 pm EDT

Overview: On August 25, 2014, USDA announced the availability of $200 million for up to 10 employment and training (E&T) pilot projects within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a robust evaluation.  These pilots give USDA and State partners an opportunity to build on existing SNAP E&T programs and test new strategies to determine the most effective ways to help SNAP recipients gain and retain employment that leads to self-sufficiency.

SNAP helps eligible low-income families put food on the table and supports critical and needed employment skills and job training so that people can become self-sufficient through gainful employment.  The pilot projects offer a chance to connect even more SNAP participants with better work opportunities.

FNS invites State SNAP agencies interested in the E&T pilots to participate in a webinar on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm (EDT).  The purpose of this webinar is to help unpack the priorities, requirements, and expectations outlined in the E&T Pilot Request for Applications (RFA).

To register for this webinar, please visit the following link:

More information about the E&T pilots and a link to the RFA can be found on the E&T Pilot web page:



Federal Agencies to Host Live Stream Dialogue on Career Pathways

On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services will host a National Dialogue on Career Pathways.  Federal agency leaders from each Department will provide opening remarks on the impact of building effective career pathways can have on our nation’s workforce system.  In addition, the Dialogue will highlight strategies and lessons learned from business leaders, state and local practitioners and national policy leaders.   Among the featured speakers will be

  • Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary for Labor’s Employment and Training Administration
  • Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education
  • Mark Greenburg, Acting Assistance Secretary for Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families
  • David L. Casey, Vice President for Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Caremark
  • Maura Banta, Director of Global Citizenship Initiatives at IBM USA

National stakeholders representing business, organized labor, education, workforce and health and human services agencies are encouraged to host events in conjunction with the broadcast.   To help organize the event, a national Viewing Party Guide is now available.  Leading career pathways states and local areas, such as Colorado, Kansas, and Charlotte, NC will be highlighted as well as innovative career pathways practices from organizations like Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, IL and Wider Opportunities for Women.

The National Dialogue will be broadcast via live stream beginning at 9:00 AM EDT and end at 4:00 PM EDT.  Before and during the event, you are encouraged to post questions on Twitter using the hashtag #careerpathways. The federal team will monitor your questions on Twitter and respond to them from the Labor Department Twitter account (@USDOL) during the event.

Sign up now to get email alerts from the new Career Pathways Exchange, a project funded by OCTAE to support states’ work on career pathways.  This email-based information service will connect interested stakeholders with career pathways-related resources, news, and events from a wide network of federal agencies and partner organizations. Members can select to receive email digests on their topics of interest, including: Building Cross-agency Partnerships, Identifying Sector/Engaging Employers, Designing Programs, Identifying Funding Needs, Aligning Policy and Programs, and Measuring System Change and Evaluations.

Suggested Social Media Posts for the National Dialogue:

Pre-event post: Join @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov on 9-23 @ 9:00 AM ET for a live stream plenary on #careerpathways.

Pre-event post: On 9-23 @ 9:00 AM ET, @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov will speak live about job-driven #careerpathways. Don’t miss it!

Day-of post: Join business leaders @cvscaremarkfyi’s David Casey and @IBM’s Maura Banta today via live stream @ National Dialogue! #careerpathways

Day-of post:  America, let’s talk about #careerpathways today!  Share your thoughts with us @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov.  Join the Dialogue.

Celebrate International Literacy Day

September 8 is International Literacy Day! The theme for International Literacy Day 2014 is Literacy and Sustainable Development. From UNESCO’s announcement: “Literacy skills developed from a basic to advanced level throughout life are part of broader competencies required for critical thinking, the sense of responsibility, participatory governance, sustainable consumption and lifestyles, ecological behaviours, biodiversity protection, poverty reduction, and disaster risk reduction.”

View the infographic. Join the online celebration on Twitter with the hashtag #literacyday.


Recap: OCTAE & OSERS Joint Blog on WIOA

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) thank all the contributors who submitted comments on the implementation of WIOA Title II and Title IV. We received 277 comments by the closing on August 29, 2014. See all the comments here.

This thoughtful feedback will be reviewed by the Offices and considered as we prepare the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on proposed regulations.

Please watch for the next opportunity to submit comments in January 2015 when the NPRM is released in the Federal Register.

WIOA Webinar: An Overview of Adult Education and Literacy

Join a webinar, The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): An Overview of Adult Education and Literacy, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE).  This webinar will provide a broad overview of the legislation, key dates for implementation, and useful information on resources and materials for adult education and literacy partners and stakeholders. The event will also feature a panel of representatives from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Labor.

Date: Thursday, August 28, 2014

Time: 2:30pm – 4:00pm ET

The webinar will stream live from this link on the EdStream site and will be recorded. No registration or call-in phone number is necessary.

Please distribute this opportunity broadly with program staff, and representatives of local education agencies, researchers, business and industry, and other stakeholders.

Send questions in advance about WIOA implementation to

For other WIOA updates and resources, please visit OCTAE’s resource page at

Call for Research Papers Using PIAAC Data

EXTENDED CALL! New deadline for papers announced.

OCTAE is collaborating with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, specifically the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child and Human Development (NICHD) and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), to sponsor a call for research papers on the relationship of education and skills to public health for adults and their families, particularly for those most at risk for poor educational, economic, and health outcomes. This collaboration reflects a shared commitment to increasing the evidence base for the work that these agencies perform and to making that evidence freely available for all.

The theme of the call is: Improving the Lives of Adults and Families: Identifying Individual and Systems-level Factors Relating Education, Health, Civic Engagement, and Economic Well-being. This effort leverages and extends the recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on U.S. Health in International Perspective as well as the recently released Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) cross-national, population-representative dataset, the Survey of Adult Skills, part of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), to hone in on issues specific to the U.S. and allow for rich international comparisons.

Note that the U.S. PIAAC Background Questionnaire includes questions on health status, health insurance coverage, sources of information about health issues, and preventive health practices (based on age and gender). Online learning modules for the PIAAC dataset are available.

OCTAE, NICHD, and OBSSR plan to cover the publication fees associated with a select number of initial publications for this Collection. Authors interested in applying for financial consideration by these groups should submit a preliminary draft paper for funding consideration by September 15, 2015 to

PLOS icon, a stylized atom as a planet

PLOS icon

See the full Call for Papers on the Public Library of Science (PLOS) blog site. PLOS is a peer-reviewed, highly competitive, open source journal that publishes online, freely-available articles related to science, medicine, and health. The Collection is essentially an open-ended special issue where related articles can be easily grouped. The Collection will stay open for additional articles past the initial deadline for consideration.

Upskilling in Order to be Ready to Work

Providing access to foundation skills for the 24 million working Americans who have low skills is acknowledged as a cornerstone in the Vice President’s Ready to Work report, issued on July 22, 2014. Jeffery Zients, Director of the National Economic Council, and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, co-authored a blog highlighting the importance of on ramps, career pathways, and on the job training for this population. The article is posted on the White House site and ED’s Homeroom site.

The recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act along with the executive actions in the Vice President’s report include significant changes and lay the foundation for the transformation of adult learning in our country.

Please see the article and share it through your networks to raise awareness and urgency of the importance of ensuring all Americans are ready to work.

President Obama Signs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Into Law

On July 22, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law. The signing ceremony was a showcase for the importance of national workforce education and development to economic recovery. It included the release of Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity, a federal-wide effort to ensure “that federally funded training programs are singularly focused on getting more Americans ready to work with marketable skills.”

WIOA will become effective on July 1, 2015, the first full program year (PY) after its enactment.  However, the act includes several provisions that become effective on other dates.  For example, Governors must submit Unified State Plans pertaining to workforce investment programs, adult education and vocational rehabilitation to the Secretary of Labor on March 1, 2016. In addition, the WIA performance accountability section remains in effect for PY 2015, with the new WIOA performance accountability provisions taking effect at the start of PY 2016 on July 1, 2016.

Following the signing, both the departments of Labor and Education announced WIOA implementation resources and outreach efforts to their stakeholders. Bookmark the OCTAE WIOA Reauthorization website of resources for information on the act and links to the resource websites of the department of Labor and vocational rehabilitation.