Research Paper Gail Goodman

Spanish Language Learning Experiences Project
Gail Goodman (Affiliate in Psychology), Susan Hobbs and graduate researcher Jonni Johnson (Psychology)

The number of adults in the U. S. with learning problems range from 3-15% of the general population, and of those with learning problems, approximately 48% are out of the workforce or unemployed (National Institute for Literacy, 1999). Identifying and assessing these individuals is critical so that pre- and postemployment services can be tailored to their learning needs. To this end, Research Affiliate Gail Goodman and the Center for Public Policy Research (CPPR) at UC Davis, is developing a short screening measure for Spanish-speaking adult applicants for the Welfare-to-Work program to determine those at risk for learning problems. The entire project is expected to last approximately three years.


It is estimated that 25-40% of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participants have learning problems (Gerry & Shively, 1999; Vera, 2006). Moreover, national studies indicate that individuals who are not able to support themselves through work may be at a higher risk of having a learning disability, making it difficult for them to progress into a career path that would allow them to be independent of TANF financial assistance (Hercik, 2000). It is critical that these individuals be identified and assessed as soon as possible so that pre- and postemployment services can be tailored to their learning needs. To accomplish these service delivery goals, some states are improving or developing learning disability screening and assessment procedures (NGA Center, 1998).

There is a great need, however, for the development of screening and assessment procedures for non-English speaking individuals. In California, for instance, approximately 51% of all persons served by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) are Hispanic. However, screening measures for Spanish-speaking adults in California with learning problems are not available. It is thus critical that a screening measure be developed to identify Spanish-speaking adults for learning problems. CPPR is pilot testing and refining the development of an appropriate screening measure for Spanish-speaking adults in California.