Our ability to plan, develop, deliver and sustain high quality adult literacy programs depends on our willingness to examine what we do critically: to retain what is effective; to throw out what is ineffective; and to plan and implement changes in areas that we would like to improve or develop. Over the years, through such research and reflection, we have been able to articulate a philosophy of adult literacy learning. Rooted in this philosophy is a set of practices that represent our current understanding of key ingredients that lead to effective programs.
In Britain, educators use the term “good practice” to describe such practices, whereas in North America people are more likely to refer to them as “best practices”. Sometimes people use “best practices” and “quality standards” interchangeably. However, they are different. A “standard” is set up and established by a person or an organization with the authority to do so. It provides a rule for a measure of value or quality. Quality standards often form part of a larger accountability or evaluation framework, and may incorporate best practices into them. Best practices, on the other hand, simply describe practices that support our philosophy of adult education—practices that we know are effective. Collectively, they are an ideal or a goal to work towards.