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Facts

  • Fourteen percent of the employed population have low literacy skills;
  • 23 percent have low numeracy skills, and 62 percent have low digital problem solving skills (USDOE).
  • 1 out of every 6 adults in the U.S. lack basic reading skills – that means 36 million people can't read a job application, understand basic written instructions, or read the Internet (COABE, 2017).
  • 2 out of every 6 adults in the U.S. cannot handle basic numbers, like working a cash register or understanding a transit schedule (COABE, 2017).
  • There are 36 million adults in the United States with limited English, reading, or math skills (COABE, 2017).
  • Adult education serves adults aged 16 and above who are not in school, who lack basic reading and math skills, and who do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent (COABE, 2017).
  • Education levels have more impact on lifetime earnings than any other demographic factor, including race, gender, or ethnic origin (COABE, 2017).
  • Individuals who participate in adult-education and literacy programs have higher future earnings as a result of participating, and their income premiums are larger with more intensive participation (U.S. Department of Education, 2014).
  • Children whose parents are involved with them in family literacy activities score 10 points higher on standardized reading tests (Sénéchal, 2006).
  • Nearly 23 million of the country's foreign born have limited English proficiency (LEP).
  • More than ten million LEP residents – roughly 32 percent of low-educated adults in the U.S. – lack a high school diploma or its equivalent (McHugh, & Moraski, 2015)
  • Almost half of all children and young adults live in low-income households that are below 200 percent of the poverty line (CLASP, 2015)
  • Adults who get a high school equivalency earn, on average, $10,000 a year more, breaking cycles of poverty and illiteracy (COABE, 2017).
  • The GED® test was created in 1942 as U.S. military veterans returned home after service in World War II, since many of them had left high school prior to graduation (GED Testing).
  • Functional illiteracy is defined as having math, reading, or language skills below a 4th grade level. At this level, people may struggle to read a bus schedule, medicine bottle or job application (Seeds of Literacy).
  • Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently (NCES, 2000).
  • Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves (ProLiteracy, 2016)
  • Every year, one in six young adults—more than 1.2 million—drop out of high school (ProLiteracy, 2016).

For more information, visit these Directory affiliate websites:

OECD: http://www.oecd.org/skills/

COABE: https://www.coabe.org/fact-sheets/

ProLiteracy: https://proliteracy.org/Resources/Adult-Literacy-Facts