America’s Least Literate Adults
The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a study about America’s least literate adults.
* Seven million adults, or about 3% of the adult population, could not complete even the most basic literacy tasks in the main assessment and were given the supplemental assessment.
* Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the nonliterate in English group had a high school diploma or GED. Among them, more than half (representing roughly 600,000 adults) had earned their high school degree in the US.
* For those for whom Spanish is a first language, a delay in learning English is associated with low basic reading skills. Those who learned English before age 11 had basic reading scores similar to average native English speakers (97 words read correctly per minute); however, for those who learned English after age 21, average scores were 35 points (or about one-third) lower. Due to the correlational nature of these data, it is impossible to make causal attributions, i.e., to say that a delay in learning English causes low basic reading skills.
* Adults who took the main literary assessment were able to read, on average, 98 words correctly per minute (wpm), in comparison to 34 wpm by those in the supplemental assessment.
(Source: National Center for Education Statistics. “Basic Reading Skills and the Literacy of the America’s Least Literate Adults: Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) Supplemental Studies.” http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2009481)