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New ProLiteracy Research Brief about Student Recruitment

NEW ProLiteracy Research Brief

Student Recruitment:  A Review of the Research

Carol Clymer, Shannon Frey

Learner recruitment is a particularly important activity because the population of potential adult learners is largely unreached, estimated to be near 90% (Patterson, 2018). This Research Brief describes findings drawn from the research base and highlights key practices and strategies that can be used to recruit ABE learners including recruitment resource guides and toolkits.

Carol Clymer, Co-Director, Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy and the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy Shannon Frey, Guided Study Groups Coordinator, Penn State Learning  Edited by Alisa Belzer, Rutgers University

To review additional ProLiteracy Briefs, go to:

New Practitioner's Guide on Parent Engagement and Leadership

Parent Engagement Leadership Family Literacy

Parent Engagement and Leadership Opportunities:  The benefits for parents, children, and educators
Toso & Grinder (2016)

This Guide discusses incorporating leadership training and opportunities into parent involvement and family literacy programs.  By doing this, parents can have a meaningful voice in social and educational issues, and educators can have a better understanding of the benefits of working with and supporting parent as equal partners in schools and communities.

New Policy Paper - Changing the Course of Family Literacy

family literacy policy Even Start Goodling Institute

Changing the Course of Family Literacy re-examines the importance and value of family literacy programming and offers several policy recommendations to focus attention on the four-component model used in Even Start.  This paper explores the current status of Family literacy and, after gathering information from 47 states, found that 11 states and the District of Columbia funded family literacy programs in 2015-16.  These states and local programs have fostered partnerships and braided funding to preserve and support family literacy programs and services.  This paper poses a rationale and recommendations to support family literacy programs as an essential strategy for assisting low-income families improve their education and employment prospects.

Family Literacy Certificate SCHOLARSHIPS Available!

Penn State Family Literacy Certificate


A limited number of scholarships are available each year for students enrolled in the Family Literacy Certificate. Scholarship recipients will receive a 25% off tuition for the first three courses and 50% off the fourth course, for a total scholarship package of approximately $3500. Scholarship recipients will gain a world-class education at a reduced cost. Applications will be accepted until all scholarships have been awarded.


Eligibility for Scholarship:

  • Must be accepted into the post-baccalaureate Family Literacy Certificate program.
  • Must complete the Certificate (4 courses) within 3 years.
  • Must maintain a B or higher to be eligible for a discount on the next course.

Key features of PSU’s 12-credit Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Family Literacy:

  • Offered online through Penn State’s nationally recognized World Campus.
  • 3-credit postbaccalaureate courses.
  • Helps professionals gain high-quality, research-based knowledge about family literacy.
  • Act 48-approved provider for PA educators; may count toward professional development hours.
  • Use credits toward electives for other World Campus programs, including Master of Education degrees in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education and Curriculum and Instruction.

Family Literacy Certificate Courses:

---  Fall 2019

  • Introduction to Family Literacy (ADTED 456) explores the concept of family literacy and how it contributes to the literacy growth of the parent (caregiver), children, and other family members. The course addresses serving diverse and vulnerable families, models of family literacy, the key components of family literacy (adult, early childhood, and parent education; interactive literacy), the role of case management and family support, professional development and program improvement, and advocacy.
  • Early Literacy Development (ADTED 458) focuses on young children’s language and literacy development, including ways that parents and staff support this development using research related to children’s learning.

-- Spring 2020

--Summer 2019

  • Adult Literacy (ADTED 457) provides practitioners with an overview of adult literacy issues, research, theory, and instructional practices in the context of family literacy and how they pertain to the many roles of parents, workers, and community members.

For information about the Certificate and Scholarship, contact Dr. Beth Grinder McLean at or 717-432-3498 or link to

To learn more about applying for the Certificate, contact World Campus admissions at 800-252-3592.

New Article - Creative Fatherhood Behind Bars: The Read to Your Child Program

Stickel , T., Kaiper-Marquez, A., & Prins , E. (2020). Creative Fatherhood Behind Bars: The Read to Your Child Program. Revista Temas Em Educação29(2).


More than one-half of incarcerated people in the USA are parents of minor children. Family literacy and read-aloud programs not only provide these parents with ways to connect and communicate with their children, but also encourage children’s learning and literacy development through creative means. Research on such programs, however, is scarce. This article presents an analysis of one such family literacy program operating in a rural Pennsylvania prison. Using qualitative data, the authors describe the Read to Your Child/Grandchild (RYCG) program and the experiences of the 11 fathers who participated in the program in fall 2018. The article examines how the program bridges gaps between fathers and children in communication, physical presence, and literacy development; the unique benefits the program’s components afford its participants; and the fathers’ acts of creativity and creation while in a restricted carceral setting

Goodling Evaluates Smithsonian Learning Lab Print & Play Cards

REPORT:  Building Vocabulary in Young Children by Playing Card Games that Use Smithsonian Collections (August, 2018)

The Smithsonian partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy to better understand how new audiences might use digital museum resources, as well as implement the Smithsonian Learning Lab collections in classrooms with young learners. The project’s goal was to “increase language development in young children, especially those living in under-served areas.” To explore this goal, the research focused on the use of downloadable print-and-play cards using the Smithsonian’s extensive digital collections, combined with questions adapted from Harvard’s Project Zero Visible Thinking routines.

Read our Blog about COVID exposing the need for Family Literacy

Faculty at the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy wrote a blog published in the July 24, 2020 Ed Tech World Education Newsletter --

COVID-19 Exposes the Need for
Family Literacy Programming

This blog outlines how COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of family literacy programs for our most vulnerable families. It also indicates how some programs have adapted to remote instruction.

New Research Brief!

Research Brief #10

Incarcerated fathers' experiences in the Read to Your Child/Grandchild
Program:  Supporting children's literacy, learning, and education

Esther Prins, Tabitha Stickel, and Anna Kaiper

October 2019

As stated in the Brief: 

This study used qualitative data to analyze how 11 fathers in a rural Pennsylvania prison were involved in their children's literacy, learning, and education before and during incarceration and through the Read to Your Child/Grandchild (RYGG) program. Before RYCG, most fathers took steps such as reading to children, teaching reading and math, attending parent-teacher conferences, helping with homework, and singing and rhyming—and then sought to continue supporting their children’s learning from within prison. Fathers used RYCG materials to emphasize the importance of education, literacies, and numeracies, while also creating personalized scrapbooks and letters that cultivated their children’s literacy abilities and cognitive, educational, and socio-emotional development.

Go to the Research & Publications Tab for more information.

News Report - Family Literacy Month: Avoiding the "Coronavirus Slide"

 News Report - Family Literacy Month: Avoiding the "Coronavirus Slide"

The Center for Literacy recently (November 12, 2020) was part of a nationwide NBC news report, "Family Literacy Month: Avoiding the Coronavirus Slide".  The Center for Literacy is one of our William Penn Foundation Family Literacy Initiative grantees.  The Goodling Institute is providing technical assistance to and conducting the evaluation of the Family Literacy Initiative grantees.

The NBC report features the Center for Literacy's ESL (English as a Second Language) program students, Lamia, and her daughter, Lyna (age 9), and their instructor Mary Wilson.

Along with the Center for Literacy, the Goodling Institute is proud of our learners - and instructors!!

Excerpts from the NBC news report:
The COVID-19 pandemic may be negatively impacting the reading skills of children, especially young readers at a critical time: kindergarten through second grade.
Lyna, 9, and mother often read together. More so now that they've joined the Family Literacy Program at Philadelphia's Center for Literacy.
"Reading is the basis," says mom Lamia. "When you know how to read, you will use it, I will use it all of their life."
Experts say reading to and with your children is crucial.
"This helps build habits and routines that enhance children's ability to read, as well as supports their literacy development," explains Mary Wilson of the Center for Literacy.
A 2017 study found less than 40 percent of 4th graders were reading at a "proficient level" and the pandemic is threatening to further lower that rate.

Check Out Family Literacy and ABE Certificates!

Earn Online Certificates through Penn State's
College of Education (World Campus)

Build your knowledge to support learning and literacy for children,
families, and adults in a changing world!

Family Literacy Certificate           &              Adult Basic Education Certificate

  • Offered online through Penn State's World Campus
  • Approved Act 48 provider for Pennsylvania educators
  • Learn high-quality, research-based knowledge about family literacy (e.g., parent involvement, adult literacy, and early literacy) and ABE (e.g., numeracy and literacy, distance learning, and administration).


Contact:  Dr. Beth McLean at or 717-432-3498

Link to the websites!!! 

Family Literacy Course Offering Spring 2021
~ ADTED 459:  Interactive Literacy and Parent Engagement:  Supporting Academic Success

Adult Basic Education Course Offerings Spring 2021
~ ADTED 460:  Introduction to Adult Education (required)
~ ADTED 560:  Teaching Reading to College Students and Adults (required)
~ ADTED 470:  Introduction to Distance Education (elective)
~ ADTED 505:  The Teaching of Adults (elective)
~ ADTED 506:  Program Planning in Adult Education (elective)
~ ADTED 531:  Course Design & Development in Distance Education (electives)
~ ADTED 542:  Perspectives on Adult Learning Theory (elective)
~ LDT 415A:    Systematic Instructional Development (elective)

Student Testimonial: The readings, research, and collaborative dialogue enabled me to achieve a
critical understanding of the field of literacy.