Educational services funded by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) are divided into three distinct programs: 1) Adult Basic Education (ABE) that target adults at very low literacy levels; 2) Adult Secondary Education (ASE) for adults whose literacy skills are at the high school level and/or are seeking a high school credential; and 3) English Language (EL) classes for adults who lack proficiency in English.

In program year 2011-12, AEFLA programs enrolled 1.7 million participants, with 48% in ABE programs, 40% in EL programs and 12% in ASE. The characteristics of program participants vary by the type of program, with ASE programs serving younger (under 25) students while participants in EL programs tend to be older. To be eligible for an AEFLA-funded program, participants must be at least 16 years old, cannot be enrolled in secondary school, and must lack basic educational skills necessary to function effectively in society or a high school diploma or its equivalent, or be unable to speak, read, or write English.

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