The United States is currently facing a literacy dilemma. This critical state of literacy in America isn’t new, but it majorly impacts our children, our society, and our economy. Despite that comprehensive national literacy studies are not conducted on a yearly basis, the National Commission of Adult Literacy releases occasional reports such as the report from June 2018, which pinpoints several factors that contribute to the troubled state of our literacy rates. Read on to learn more about current literacy rates in America, what contributes to them, and how we can improve the state of literacy in America.
The report states that 1 in 3 people in America drop out of high school. The report also states that 1 in 4 American families qualifies as low-income with parents who lack skills and education that can improve their economic status. Thus, the younger generations remain in a cycle of poverty. The study also revealed that the increase of immigration and the language barriers that come with it highly contribute to lower literacy levels in America. Further, the Center for Immigration Studies states that 41 percent of immigrant adults score at or below the lowest level of English literacy, and 28 percent of said immigrants have not completed high school – further placing a limit on higher education and language acquisition and employment, as well as increasing probability of poverty.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released a study in 2013, which contained data gathered from the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The study questioned proficiency in adult literacy, problem solving, and numeracy. The study revealed that people born in America, after 1980, scored lower than 15 of the 22 participating countries. Sadly, Americans between 15 and 65 years of age scored below the international average in all three previous mentioned categories. Additional studies confirm poor literacy rates in America and the perpetuation of poverty and poor socio-economic status.
As school administrators and educators there are steps we can take to improve literacy rates in America. For example, we can promote language acquisition, adult learning, and job training programs for immigrant parents to help improve their literacy and work-related skills; in turn, they can gain access to opportunities that can lead to a higher socio-economic status. This will help them improve the lives of their children, and our students. We can encourage parents to read to and with their children to help the youth gain a passion for reading, thus improving their literacy skills.