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Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition underway in WWPS

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published April 12, 2019

 Warren Woods Public Schools Adult and Community Education is promoting adult literacy by participating in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition now through Aug. 31.

Warren Woods Public Schools Adult and Community Education is promoting adult literacy by participating in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition now through Aug. 31.

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WARREN — Through a team effort, Warren Woods Public Schools Adult and Community Education is doing its part to promote literacy in adults.

WWPS adult education program educators are part of the Southeast Michigan Region 10 Adult Learners team participating in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition.

The competition, in partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, allows the participating districts to provide free applications, or apps. At this time, the team has received a little over $20,000 to help the district promote the Learning Upgrade literacy app.

The competition is designed to encourage adult learners to strengthen their reading and math skills by using the Learning Upgrade app. The first step to enrolling a student is to download the Learning Upgrade app on a smartphone or tablet, or self-enroll using a web browser. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Android Google Play Store. All learners need to do is self-enroll using the four-digit XPRIZE Communities Competition team code, which for Region 10 is 5577.

Each time somebody uses the app between now and Aug. 31, the Southeast Michigan Region 10 Adult Learners team receives one credit. Participants must use the app at least three times on three separate days for Region 10 to earn credit.

According to the Learning Upgrade website at web.learnin, only lessons completed on Android smartphones will count for the XPRIZE Communities Competition; however, the app is also available to learners with iOS (Apple) devices as well. Apple iOS activity will not count as activity for the XPRIZE Communities Competition team.

The app provides basic literacy in English and math. The app also can be used to prepare for the GED and the HiSET tests toward high school completion. The Learning Upgrade app is designed to reach adult learners who aren’t able to enroll in adult education classes at this time.

“The goal is to get literacy tools in as many hands as possible,” Warren Woods Adult and Community Education Coordinator Kristen Allen said. “We want (people) to have the tool to build their lives and (enhance) job opportunities. Although iPhones may not count for our competition, we still want to encourage users to download and use the Learning Upgrade app on their iPhones. No matter what happens in the competition, our goal is always to advance adult literacy in English and math.”

The app is intended for adults to use as well as English Language Learners students, but anyone can utilize it. ELL students are learning the English language in addition to their native language or any other languages they may speak. Users of the app can enter a test to see at which level to start or use a level to test themselves.

There are different lessons on the Learning Upgrade app, and those who use the programs have the opportunity to earn bronze, silver or gold stars for each lesson to ultimately receive a completion certificate. Allen said the programs will not track the individual skills of those who participate in order to protect their privacy.

According to British A. Robinson, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, lack of opportunity, not lack of motivation, is what most prevents adults from improving their literacy skills.

“Low literacy is a silent crisis in this country — one that needs more attention, more voices, more resources and more ideas. That’s why we’re leveraging the power of technology to reach adult learners where they are — giving them more opportunities to learn where they live, work, pray and play,” Robinson said in a prepared statement. “The Communities Competition is a critical step in our ongoing efforts to improve outcomes by broadening the reach and deepening the impact of adult literacy learning resources.”

Southeast Michigan Region 10 Adult Learners team members are from throughout the region and include several school systems, including St. Clair Shores Adult and Community Education and the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency.

Prizes will be awarded to the teams that have the highest number of uses on the app. The top three prizes are $350,000 for the top tier, $100,000 for the second tier and $50,000 for the third tier. Should the Region 10 team receive any of the monetary prizes, Allen said the plan is to help provide extra support in adult education in the Region 10 districts.

“Adult education programs can always use more funding and more options not offered through a traditional funding source,” Allen said.

There are 46 teams nationwide entered in the Communities Competition, which continues until Aug. 31. The grand prize winners will be announced in the fall.

For more information on local adult education programs, visit