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Sondra Stein Papers

A description of her papers at Syracuse University

The adult education holdings are collectively known as the
Alexander N. Charters Library of Resources for Educators of Adults.

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 30 Oct 2007

Biographical History

Sondra Stein received her BA (Honors) in 1968 from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and her MA (1970) and PhD (1976), both in English, from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She was an assistant professor at New Hampshire College's School of Human Services (1978-1980). In 1980 she founded the Women's Educational and Vocational Enrichment (WEAVE) program in Roxbury, Massachusetts, a model adult literacy and job readiness program for low-income minority women, and served as its director for four years.

Stein worked for six years for Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, first in the Office of Training and Employment (1985-1987), where she led the development of a statewide workplace education initiative, and then as Deputy Director and later Director of the governor's Commonwealth Literacy Campaign (1987-1991). As the governor's primary liaison on adult literacy and workforce development, she worked closely with the National Governors' Association (NGA) and with other states to establish literacy initiatives.

In 1991 Stein took a position with the NGA's State Literacy Exchange (SLE). As consultant to NGA's Director of Employment and Social Services, she assisted in development of overall strategy for the SLE, preparation of policy papers, planning and delivery of Regional Seminars, and provision of technical assistance to state leaders on key issues and on establishment of interagency work groups.

From 1993-2004, as Senior Research Associate at the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), Stein was responsible for researching and defining key initiatives in support of federal adult education and training policy. Among other duties, she worked with the National Education Goals Panel to develop and implement an approach to defining and measuring progress in adult literacy and lifelong learning, both within states and across the nation, and with the NGA and eleven states to develop and pilot a new approach to accountability based on the attainment of real-world outcomes and continuous program improvement.

At the same time (1996-2004), Stein served as National Director of NIFL's Equipped for the Future (EFF) program, a standards-based collaborative adult literacy system reform initiative. During her tenure as Director, she participated in the development of EFF standards; orchestrated the establishment of a National Training Center and National Center for Field Research at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (both focused on EFF training and implementation), and wrote or managed the writing of all major EFF publications.

In 2004 Stein became Director of the National Work Readiness Credential Project, a public-private partnership to develop a National Work Readiness assessment and credentials for entry-level workers, based on the EFF standards.

Stein has also undertaken a number of smaller projects, including directing and managing a national project for the Association for Commuunity Based Education (1992), acting as Senior Consultant for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Literacy Initiative (1991), and developing the Massachusett's Department of Labor's Industrial Services Program for displaced worker retraining (1985). For thirteen years she was a trainer for Building Multicultural Organizations, a team that trains public and private sector staff on combating individual and institutional racism.

Stein is the author of numerous papers, articles and other publications, both in her own right and as director of the EFF program. Among the recognitions she has received, Literacy Volunteers of America awarded her its National Literacy Leadership Award (1997), and she was a finalist in the Ford Foundation's Innovations in American Goverment Program (1999).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Sondra Stein Papers contains material on the following general topics, most relating to the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) either directly or indirectly. The descriptions and topical divisions below are drawn largely from information provided by the donor.

The majority of the material in the collection relates to NIFL's Equipped for the Future (EFF) project, a national standards-based educational improvement initiative for adult basic education and English language learning. EFF was an outgrowth of NIFL's work with the National Education Goals Panel (see below). Several books have been written on EFF because of its significance to the field of adult education.The complete history of EFF's policy and program development is covered.

National Institute of Literacy (NIFL) includes documents and correspondence concerning the development of NIFL, first Board retreat, development of early initiatives, as well as later materials related to the actions of the Board during 2002-2004 in refocusing NIFL on reading. This series also contains material on NIFL's Initiative on Performance Measurement, Reporting and Improvement Systems. From 1993-1996 NIFL and NGA ran complementary interagency initiatives on building statewide accountability systems that integrated adult literacy. These materials address this early work on accountability.

Also included in this series is material relating to NIFL's work with the National Education Goals Panel (NEGP). The NEGP, established in 1990 by the President and Governors and codified into Law in 1994, assisted the states in defining and measuring national education goals; the NIFL Board worked closely with the NEGP to determine how best to fulfill their Congressional mandate to measure national progress on adult literacy. These materials address early technical work of the NEGP and joint work conducted by NIFL, NEGP and NGA during 1992 and 1993.

Adult education legislation and policy primarily concerns efforts related to securing passage of the National Literacy Act of 1991, including the Jumpstart materials; and to defining policy, regulations, and implementation strategies, including materials developed by the National Governors Association State Literacy Exchange and the Association of Community Based Education (ACBE).

Miscellaneous consists of one box which may be either EFF or adult education legislation and policy, and a box of oversize items from various boxes.

Arrangement of the Collection

The materials have been moved from the original shipping containers into standard archival cartons, but the collection has not been processed and remains in the original order as received. The original boxes were considerably larger than the archival cartons; to enable researchers to locate the contents of an original box in its entirety, both original and new box numbers are given in the inventory and the beginning of each original box is flagged in the material itself. During reboxing, a few oversize items had to be relocated (see Box 33); where possible, their original location is flagged in the collection.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has a number of collections related to adult education, both of individuals and organizations. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Stein, Sondra Gayle.

Corporate Bodies

Association for Community Based Education.
National Institute for Literacy (U.S.)


Adult education -- United States.
Equipped for the Future (Program)
Literacy -- Government policy -- United States.
Literacy -- Standards -- United States.
Literacy -- Study and teaching -- United States.
Literacy programs -- United States.
Workplace literacy -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Drafts (documents)
Manuals (instructional materials)
Minutes (administrative records)
Notes (documents)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Sondra Stein Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Sondra Stein, 2007.

Table of Contents

Equipped for the Future (EFF)

National Institute for Literacy (NIFL)

Adult education legislation and policy