In this course we will consider why statistics have replaced human stories about literacy and what stories the numbers leave out. Substantial research shows that low literacy corresponds to poverty and poor health, and that improving literacy may not change a person’s income but it will improve their self-confidence and self-esteem. Current literacy policies across industrialized countries do not address those issues. Instead, they focus on literacy for employment, using statistics from IALS and IALLS to justify the policies. In this course we will explore how statistics are used to link literacy and employment, how the statistical story came to dominate other ways of talking about literacy, where those statistics come from, and what they leave out. In Part 2 of this course [to be offered later] we will consider international research about how literacy connects to other social issues, and discuss how this information might help us find new ways to raise awareness about adult literacy.