This study sought to determine the self-perceived, functional literacy needs of low-literate Adult Basic Education students. A questionnaire was constructed to allow learners to rate the extent to which they felt they needed to learn 20 functional tasks; data were collected from 160 learners functioning at or below the sixth-grade level, as measured by standardized reading tests. Results of a factor analysis suggest that these functional tasks can be conceived of as three broad categories: everyday reading and writing tasks, math and measurement tasks, and special literacy tasks. Through cluster analysis, distinct subgroups of learners were identified based on their comparative needs to learn these categories of tasks. Analysis of follow-up data further revealed that existing programs are less effective than they could be at helping learners meet their self-perceived literacy needs.
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