Survey of adult literacy

January 1994
Society;Jan/Feb94, Vol. 31 Issue 2, p2
Academic Journal
This article reports on the National Adult Literacy Survey in the U.S. According to the survey 47 percent of adults in the U.S. have such limited literacy skills they can neither use a bus schedule nor write a brief letter about a billing error. The National Adult Literacy Survey also showed that the vast majority of adults do not have the literacy skills necessary to integrate complex information or handle math tasks that require background knowledge. The result also showed that people with limited literacy skills more likely earn less, are out of work and vote less than those with greater skills. The study clearly links literacy skills with economic well-being and full participation in civic life. International Reading Association President Doris Roettger said, adult education programs should be enhanced by increasing the number of professional, full-time teachers, creating better materials, and opening more classrooms to adults who are seeking essential reading skills. Survey results showed that those at opposite ends of the literacy spectrum lived very different lives. Those at level 1 of the quantitative literacy scale earned an average of $230 a week; those at level 5 earned $681. Nearly half the adults in the lowest level on each literacy scale were living in poverty, compared with only 4 to 8 percent of those in the two highest proficiency levels.


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