January 18, 2022

New Data Summary: “Adult Literacy in the United States”

From the National Center for Eduction Statistics:

White and Hispanic adults make up the largest percentage of U.S. adults with low levels of English literacy, according to the most recent results of a survey on adult skills.

The National Center for Education Statistics released a new Data Point report today July 2, 2019, entitled “Adult Literacy in the United States.”

This Data Point summarizes what data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) show about adult literacy in the United States.

The findings include the following:

  • Forty-three million U.S adults possess low English literacy skills.
  • U.S.-born adults make up 66 percent of adults with low levels of English literacy skills in the United States.
  • Non-U.S.-born adults comprise 34 percent of the population with low literacy skills.
  • White and Hispanic adults make 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively, of U.S. adults with low levels of English literacy.

PIAAC is a large-scale international study of working-age adults (ages 16–65) that assesses adult skills in three domains (literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving) and collects information on adults’ education, work experience, and other background characteristics. In the United States, when the study was conducted in 2011–12 and 2013–14, respondents were first asked questions about their background, with an option to be interviewed in English or Spanish, followed by a skills assessment in English. Because the skills assessment was conducted only in English, all U.S. PIAAC literacy results are for English literacy.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.