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Thirty-four million adults function at below basic literacy levels, meaning they are unable to complete simple literacy tasks such as filling out a job application, fill out a deposit slip or read a prescription label. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2003)

“The U.S. is the only country among 20 OECD free-market countries where the current generation is less well educated than the previous one.” (National Commission on Adult Literacy, 2008)

“Approximately one in eight children in the United States never graduates from high school. Based on calculations per school day (180 days of seven hours each), one high school student drops out every nine seconds.” (Lehr, Johnson, Bremer, Cosia & Thompson, 2004)

“Every year, one in three young adults — more than 1.2 million people — drop out of high school.” (National Commission on Adult Literacy, 2008)

Writing is a skill in particular demand in business and higher education, yet only 41 percent of white students, 16 percent of black students, 18 percent of Hispanic students and 15 percent of low-income students reached proficiency on the 2007 National Assessment of Education Progress. (Salahu-Din, D., Persky, H., & Miller, J. (2008))


According to Tough Choices or Tough Times, the report by the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce: Over the past 30 years, one country after another has surpassed us in the proportion of their entering workforce with the equivalent of a high school diploma, and many more are on the verge of doing so. Thirty years ago, the United States could lay claim to having 30 percent of the world’s population of college students. Today that proportion has fallen to 14 percent and is continuing to fall. (National Center on Education and the Economy, 2007)

“National surveys of our adult population indicate that large numbers of our nation’s adults, 16 years of age and older, do not demonstrate sufficient literacy and numeracy skills needed to fully participate in an increasingly competitive work environment.” (Kirsch, Braun, Yamamoto, & Sum, 2007)

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that “adults 18 and older with a master’s, professional or doctoral degree earned an average of $79,946, while those with less than a high school diploma earned about $19,915.” Adults with a “bachelor’s degree earned an average of $54,689 in 2005, while those with a high school diploma earned $29,448.” (Census Bureau, 2007)


In 2001, low functional literacy resulted in an estimated $32 to $58 billion in additional health care costs. (Center for Health Care Strategies, 2007)

“Reading fluency is a more powerful variable than education for examining the association between socioeconomic status and health.” (Baker, Wolf, Thompson, Gazmararian & Huang, 2007)

“A study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine shows that older people with inadequate health literacy had a 50 percent higher mortality rate during a five-year period than people with adequate reading skills. Inadequate or low health literacy is defined as the inability to read and comprehend basic health-related materials such as prescription bottles, appointment slips, and hospital forms… Low health literacy was the top predictor of mortality after smoking, also surpassing income and years of education, the study showed. Most of the difference in mortality among people with inadequate literacy was due to higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease.” (Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, 2007)


“One in every 100 U.S. adults 16 and older is in prison or jail in America (about 2.3 million in 2006). About 43 percent do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, and 56 percent have very low literacy skills.” (National Commission on Adult Literacy, 2008)


“If daily reading begins in infancy, by the time the child is 5 years old, he or she has been fed roughly 900 hours of brain food! Reduce that experience to just 30 minutes a week, and the child’s hungry mind loses 770 hours of nursery rhymes, fairy tales and stories. A kindergarten student who has not been read to could enter school with less than 60 hours of literacy nutrition. No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those lost hours of mental nourishment.” (USDOE, 1999)


“Hispanic students now make up one in five public school students, but these students as well as other minority students are disproportionately clustered in high poverty schools. More individuals of all races are enrolling in college, and more bachelor’s degrees have been awarded than in the past. However, gaps in achievement and high school and college graduation rates between white and minority students continue.” (NCES, 2008)

“More than a quarter of Hispanic students (28 percent) live in poverty, compared with 16 percent of non-Hispanic students.” (Frey & Gonzales, 2008)

“Roughly one-fourth of the nation’s kindergartners are Hispanic, evidence of an accelerating trend that now will see minority children become the majority by 2023.” (Yen, 2009)

As of July 1, 2007, Hispanics constituted 15 percent of the nation’s total population, and it is projected that as of July 1, 2050, Hispanics will constitute 30 percent of the nation’s population. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008)

“About 2 million immigrants come to the U.S. each year seeking jobs and better lives — the promise of America. About 50 percent of them have low literacy levels and lack high school education and English language skills, severely limiting their access to jobs and job training, college and citizenship.” (National Commission on Adult Literacy, 2008)

Nationwide, 70 percent of adults with the lowest literacy skills are unemployed or work in part-time jobs. (Kirsch, Jungeblut, Jenkins, & Kolstad, 1993)