Federally funded adult education programs help individuals over the age of 16 who are not currently enrolled in school, lack a high school credential, and/or do not possess the literacy, numeracy, or English language skills necessary to function effectively in society, to obtain those skills and appropriate credentials. According to the OECD’s 2013 international assessment of adults in twenty-four countries, the United States has a larger population of low-skilled adults than most developed countries. Over 36 million Americans—one in six—have low literacy skills, and one in three has low numeracy skills. The National Commission on Adult Literacy found that an additional 60 million Americans lack the credentials and skills necessary to succeed in postsecondary education, limiting their ability to secure good jobs that pay family sustaining wages. Most federal spending on adult education is provided through the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.

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