Literacy Notes

A blog for LVWCC news, photos, and stories.

Expected Outcomes

The IL State Library provides a great deal of our regular funding for our adult volunteer literacy program. They suggest 3 outcomes, which lay the foundation for our entire program--which formats our will services take, what kind of information we will collect, and how we will organize and report that information. What are the 3 outcomes our program must achieve?

  • "Increased skills in reading, writing, math and/or English language."
  • "Increased knowledge of civic responsibilities (e.g., voting, using the public library)."
  • "Increased ability of the volunteer tutors to provide effective adult literacy instruction."

These 3 concise statements mean a lot!

  • The fact that they all start with the word "increased" means that we are obligated to show that we are improving our program all the time. We need to show that we did better than last year, every single year.
  • Asking for increased academic skills plus civic responsibilities demonstrates that the state is interested in more than just test scores.
  • Our responsibility to have volunteer tutors provide instruction is underscored by our duty to make sure that it is effective. We can only guage whether something is effective if we track it--we have to count it (quantitative) and we have to evaluate it's worth (qualitative).

So what kinds of activities do we do all year long to meet our outcomes?

  • Pre-testing and post-testing; learners must meet a certain number of hours in one fiscal year to qualify for post-testing. If they don't we need to reexamine tutor/learner matches. We need to show that there was some gain appropriate to the amount of instructional hours that were completed. There are very limited reasons we would continue matches if there are a lot of cancellations on the part of the learner or the tutor. One solution is to meet twice or three times per week to increase the odds of completing enough hours. Another solution is for one learner to have multiple tutors if the tutor can't commit to multiple weekly sessions.
  • Lifeskills Survey; each tutor is required to complete this survey once per fiscal year. Even if they just started meeting, if the survey is due, our tutors need to complete it. We get a vivid snapshot of where the learner is at on a variety of everyday skills.
  • Ongoing tutor training & evaluation of tutor performance; each tutor is required to complete weekly tutor logs with quantitative and qualitative aspects, attend at least one supplemental training per fiscal year, constructively engage with us to evaluate the success of their match(es), and project how much longer they think the match should continue to meet the learner's academic, lifeskills, and personal goals. 

If we do all of these things, we will meet our outcomes and our program will be successful. The one thing we can't do without: tutor flexibility and support. Not only do we need volunteer tutors to give time, but we desperately need them to make meaningful financial contributions to the organization. It sounds like a lot to ask, and tutoring is an extremely rewarding activity when we make good matches, but we ask for more than that. Tutoring is also a huge responsibility. This is what we ask of each tutor:

  • Be patient; making a match with your preferences and a learner's preferences takes time. It can take as long as 6 months.
  • Be cooperative; keep organized and keep your own records. Rely on your own ability to take good notes at each session and report your feedback every week. Keep track of your own tutor log submissions. If something is amiss with your match, we can help, but only if we hear from you on a weekly basis. Please do not only contact us when you are looking for a new learner. It cheats the learner, and it cheats the program.
  • Be supportive; help us recruit new tutors and major gifts. Your relationships help us grow the organization and meet our outcomes. LVWCC shouldn't rely wholly on the state to provide our program funding. Ideally, state funding should be matched in total by a variety of foundation grants, major gifts, and donations.

If you have feedback on how the organization or program is run, please schedule a time to talk with us in person. We want to hear your concerns and we ask that you allow us the time to make productive changes. Some changes are easy and quick, but many systemic challenges require financial investment or human resources that we have to budget for. At times, we are at the mercy of a vendor who happens to be the only entity providing a solution to our programmatic needs. Sometimes, we must wait for vendors to catch up to our specific needs and the expectations of our tutors.

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