National Assessment of Adult Literacy

Posted by on February 2, 2009

1 in 7 Americans is illiterate, federal study finds

A new federal study finds that an estimated one in seven American adults, approximately 32 million have such low literacy skills that they would be challenged to understand a medication’s side effects listed on a pill bottle. The report is based on the results of a 2003 survey that followed a 1992 survey. During that time, the country added 23 million adults to its population, an estimated 3.6 million of them with very low literacy skills. Some states, such as Mississippi, had drops in the number of functionally illiterate, to 16 percent from 25 percent in 1992.  In several large states, however, such as California, New York, Florida, and Nevada, the number of adults with low skills rose. David Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy, which advocates for adult literacy, says that undiagnosed learning disabilities, immigration, and high school dropouts are probable reasons for the poor literacy numbers.

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