Context Education Case Study #2:
A Pre-employment, Job-Related
Basic Skills Program
Scenario A: Carmen Lopez' experience in the
decontextualized Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOINS) training
program of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Carmen Lopez is a 28 year old, single mother with three children to
support. For the last three years she has been living in Manhattan
supported by welfare, including Aid For Dependent Children (AFDC).
Under the JOBS program, M. Lopez sought training, but when her
reading and mathematics skills were assessed using standardized
tests, it was found that she was reading at the 6th grade level and
her mathematics skills were lower, at the 5th grade level.
get info the training program for Office Technology that she wanted,
M. Lopez was advised that she needed both reading and mathematics
skills at the 9th grade level. She was informed about adult basic
education (ABE) programs in the area where she lived. These programs
could help her reach the 9th grade level of skill in reading and
math and then she could enroll in the job training that she wanted
When M. Lopez went to one of the ABE programs offered by a
local community-based organization, she found that she was reading
and doing math out of texts like those she had studied in grade
school. She read general literature, did math computations and word
problems in workbooks, and wrote some personal stories about her
life. When she asked how long it would lake to reach the 9th grade
level of basic skills so she could get into the job training that
she desperately needed, no one could tell her. It would just depend
on her dedication and willingness to work hard at her studies.
she read the literature and "real life" materials, and
performed the numerous math exercises, M. Lopez could not see any
connection between the work she was doing in the ABE class, and the
job-training and work that she wanted and needed to support her and
her Emily. So pretty soon she quit going to the program..
Like Carmen Lopez, many adults apply for job
training that is offered by organizations that are using funds from
the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) or
the Job Oriented Basic Skills (JOBS) program of the U. S. Department
of Health and Human Services. When they apply for this training, the
adults may have their reading and/or mathematics skills tested. If
their skills are lower than the levels needed for job training, they
may be advised to go to a basic skills program to raise their skills
to the needed level.
At the basic skills program, the person may be
assigned general literature materials or "life skills"
materials to study, or they may work on computer-based programs that
teach the basic skills. Generally, the materials they will have to
read or use to study math will not be related to the kind of job that
they wanted to be trained for when they first applied for job
training. Too often, the adult learners cannot understand what the
basic skills training has to do with the job training that was sought.
So they may drop out of the program, if they ever attend in the first