Reading and Writing

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 495–514 | Cite as

Persisters and nonpersisters: Identifying the characteristics of who stays and who leaves from adult literacy interventions

  • Daphne Greenberg
  • Justin C. Wise
  • Jan C. Frijters
  • Robin Morris
  • Laura D. Fredrick
  • Victoria Rodrigo
  • Ryan Hall


Adult literacy programs are characterized by high attrition rates. Rigorous exploration of student persistence in adult reading classes is lacking. This study was an attempt to understand the profiles of adults who completed reading classes compared to a group of adults who made it to the midpoint and a group of adults who did not make it to the midpoint. Students were offered 100 h of instruction. Of the 395 students who attended the first day of class, only 198 completed the program. Results indicated that English language status, age, some reading related skills, class assignment, avoidance of reading, previous adult education experience, and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefit receipt variables significantly predicted persistence. The significance of some of these predictors varied based on analyzing midpoint completion or full completion. To further explore the characteristics of the sample, the most representative participants were selected from the group that did not make it to midpoint and from the group that completed the program. Results indicated that the most representative members of these two groups differed in English language status, gender, age, some reading related skills, and information access.


Adult literacy Persistence Attendance 



Research supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute for Literacy, and the U.S. Department of Education—grant # R01 HD43801-01.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daphne Greenberg
    • 1
  • Justin C. Wise
    • 2
  • Jan C. Frijters
    • 3
  • Robin Morris
    • 1
  • Laura D. Fredrick
    • 1
  • Victoria Rodrigo
    • 1
  • Ryan Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Oglethorpe UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Brock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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