A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21st Century

Transcript

1 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) A First Look at the Literacy of U.S. Department of Education st Institute of Education Sciences Century America’s Adults in the 21 NCES 2006-470 INSIDE THIS ISSUE Average Prose and Document Literacy Scores Rise for 2 Description of Literacy Levels Blacks and Asians But Decrease Among Hispanics Assessment Design 2 The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) measures the English literacy of 2 Defining Literacy America's adults (people age 16 and older living in households or prisons).The average quantita- 4 Changes in Adult tive literacy scores of adults increased 8 points between 1992 and 2003, though average prose and Literacy document literacy did not differ significantly from 1992 (figure 1). 4 Nonliterate in English Among Blacks, average prose literacy scores increased by 6 points and average document literacy Profile of Adults With 5 Below Basic Prose scores rose by 8 points between 1992 and 2003 (figure 1).The average prose scores of Literacy Asians/Pacific Islanders increased as well, rising 16 points between 1992 and 2003.The average prose literacy scores of Hispanics fell 18 points from 1992 to 2003, while average document lit- Literacy by Gender 6 eracy scores decreased by 14 points. Average prose and document literacy scores among Whites 8 Literacy by did not change significantly. (Differences are discussed in this report only if they were found to Race/Ethnicity be statistically significant at the .05 level. Standard errors for all tables and figures in this report 10 Literacy by Age are available on the NAAL website.) 12 Literacy by Language Spoken Before Starting School Figure 1. Average prose, document, and quantitative literacy scores of adults, by race/ethnicity: 1992 and 2003 Literacy by Educational 14 Attainment Average score Quantitative Prose Document 500 Literacy by Employment 16 297* 300 288 288 287 285 Status 283* 282 281 276 275 275 272 271 271 271* 268 259 255 Population and Sample 18 243* 250 238* 238 238* 237 234 Size, and Data Collection 233 233 230 224* 222 216* Procedures 200 18 Variable Definitions 19 Sample Assessment 150 Questions 0 White To t a l Asian/ To t a l Asian/ Hispanic Black White To t a l Hispanic Black Asian/ Hispanic Black White Future NAAL Reports 28 Pacific Pacific Pacific Islander Islander Islander 1992 2003 28 NAAL on the Web Race/ethnicity * Significantly different from 1992. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or men- tal disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. In 1992, respondents were allowed to id entify only one race. In 2003, respondents were allowed to identify multiple races. In 2003, 2 percent of respondents identified multiple races and are not included in the White , Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander categories in this figure. All adults of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of race. The Asian/Pacific Islander category includes Native Hawaiians. Total includes White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Multiracial/Other. Although not reported separately, American I ndians/Native Alaskans are included. Literacy Survey and 2003 National SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Assessment of Adult Literacy.

2 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Description of Literacy Levels presented in table 1 on the Literacy, NCES has decided to that would permit compar- The National Center for following page.The complete report the assessment results isons with results from the Education Statistics (NCES) BOTA report explaining their by using four literacy levels. 1992 assessment. asked the National Research methodology in setting levels Descriptions of the abilities Council’s Board on Testing is available on the Web at associated with each level and Drawing on recommendations and Assessment (BOTA) to http://books.nap the types of tasks that adults at from BOTA’s Committee on recommend a set of literacy .edu/ each level could complete are Performance Levels for Adult levels for the 2003 assessment . catalo g/11267.html Assessment Design Defining Literacy The assessment defines litera- questions asked orally in either 2003 assessment. Sixty-five of Unlike indirect measures of cy as “using printed and writ- English or Spanish based upon the tasks were taken from the literacy, which rely on self- ten information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, printed materials presented in 1992 survey and 87 were reports of literacy skills or and to develop one’s knowl- English only. Adults who were developed for the 2003 assess- educational attainment, the edge and potential.” Results not screened into the alterna- ment.Tasks from the 1992 assessment measures literacy by are reported on three literacy tive assessment and completed survey were included in the asking respondents to demon- scales (see Sample Assessment the main assessment attempted 2003 assessment to measure strate that they understand the Questions section of the approximately 40 literacy tasks changes in literacy between meaning of information found report): (administered in English only). 1992 and 2003. in texts they are asked to read. t o s s P y c c a a r r P e e y o r e e t L i i L r To compare results between The knowledge and skills 1992 and 2003, the 1992 Asking each respondent to The literacy tasks in the assess- needed to perform prose results were rescaled using the complete all the tasks would ment were drawn from actual tasks (i.e., to search, compre- criteria and methods estab- be too time-consuming, so the texts and documents, which hend, and use information lished for the 2003 assessment. tasks were organized into 13 were either used in their orig- from continuous texts). unique blocks. Respondents inal format or reproduced in e e n n t t L L i i t t e e r r a a c c y D D o o c c u u m m y The assessment also included a were asked to complete an the assessment booklets. Each background questionnaire that assessment booklet that question appeared before the The knowledge and skills was used to collect data about included seven literacy screen- materials needed to answer it, needed to perform document tasks (i.e., to search, compre- the relationship between liter- ing tasks (with questions asked thus encouraging respondents hend, and use information acy and various demographic in either English or Spanish to read with purpose. from noncontinuous texts in and background characteris- but based upon written mate- various formats). tics.The background question- rials presented in English only) Respondents could correctly naire was administered before common to all booklets, fol- answer many assessment ques- e L L i i t t e e r r a a c c y y Q Q u u a a n n t t i i t t a a t t i i v v e the assessment and the ques- lowed by three blocks of tasks. tions by skimming the text or The knowledge and skills tions were asked orally in document for the informa- required to perform quantita- either English or Spanish. Adults who were unable to tion necessary to perform a tive tasks (i.e., to identify and perform computations, either answer a minimum number of given literacy task. All tasks alone or sequentially, using See Population and Sample literacy screening tasks, but were open-ended. numbers embedded in print- Size, and Data Collection who were able to communi- ed materials). Procedures section of this cate in either English or A total of 152 prose, docu- report for more information Spanish, were administered an ment, and quantitative literacy about the assessment. alternative assessment with tasks were included in the 2

3 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Table 1. Overview of the literacy levels Level and definition Key abilities associated with level Sample tasks typical of level l ra v n i te ra te Adul ts a t t h e Below Basic l e li e n n g e from b e i n g n o tes c o n n a Below Basic i di E e d b low: li es i t abili e h t g n o havi t h s gli n ste e mor e t ha n t h e mo st s impl ete s n d c o nc r a li te ra c y s kill . se ar c hi n g a s hor t,s impl e text t o fi n d ou t wha t a ■ ce pla n ommo t,c hor s n i n io t forma n i e ifiabl ent ily id s a e g n i t a c lo ■ t allow texts prose pa t i ent i s e d o dri n k b e for e a m e di c al test e n ra g Sc es for Below or : Basic ifiabl ■ t a i c n ■ s ig n i n g a form e g lo a s ily id ent e i n forma t io n a n d followi n g wri tten P ro se : 0–209 ,c i n s impl e documents ( e .g. ct har ts or form s io ru nst i ns ) Do c um ent : 0–204 ■ addi n g t h e amou nts o n a ba n k d e po s i t s lip h e impl s rform e o p t m e ■ t g n i s d u n a s r e umb n g n i t a c lo Qua i t a t iv e : 0–234 nt io t (primarily addi ns io t ra e op quantitative e h t en ) wh n c ma e h t ma t i c al i n forma t d familiar n a ete r nc o io ry e v s i n n nec s kill s - i tes a c di Basic r ■ for pro t, hor s n i n io t forma n g i n di n a st r e d n n a s juror e iv ect p s d u et a pamphl n g i n di n fi ■ n g a n adi e ess ary t o p e rform s impl e ex e w e r e se l ecte d for prose ce pla n ommo c texts n pla a t io n of how p e opl ra v n a e ryday li te d c y e jury pool e h t es . ct ivi t i a vi s io n guid e t o fi n d ou t wha t documents e impl s n i n io t forma n g i n di n a st r e d n d u n g a n e ■ u s i n g a te l e ■ r adi or n g es for Basic: Sc e ra a n o s e a im t c ifi ec p program s ar e t 210–264 : se ro P n g e a s ily id ent ifiabl e quantitative i n forma t io n a n d e h t ents g n ompari c ■ v e wo t for ces pri et k c i t ■ lo c a t i Do c um ent : 205–249 o m e p probl ste - h t ne o e, impl s e s e t t g i n i s u en wh s olv i nt Qua t a t iv : 235–289 e n i s s p ec ifi e d or e a s ily i n f e rr e d ari t hm et i c op e ra t io tes a c di n i Intermediate ■ g r e f e r ence ma te rial s t o d ete rmi ne n ess l ense, i te ra e g mod n di n a st r t ul ns o c e d n d u n g a n adi e r ■ ly d necess ary t o p e rform s kill s w s ommo n pla ce prose texts a n ami t ular vi c i t a par n ai nt o c s h food c whi e ll a s s ummarizi n g , maki n g c en e - t g li n gi mod hall c ly te ra a g c au se a n d e d ff ect, ences, n d r e f ete i e impl s rmi n i n n e c y a ct ra t i es . ivi se purpo s hor’ t au e h t g n izi n og ec r for es g n ra e or Sc ■ ifi c c a t io n o n ec p s g a n ifyi ent id lo d ■ lo c a t i n g i n forma t io n i d n a documents ex ompl ense,c a map n : Intermediate t abou io t n g s impl e forma n i e h n t ences r e f n i maki 265–339 : se ro P i n c ifi ec p s g n ri e of ord st o c al t o t e h t g n i t ula c al c ■ g i t t o d u n a n io forma n i quantitative familiar ess g l n i t a c lo ■ t s 250–334 : ent um c Do s t o n s i n wh io t t olv e probl e m offi ce s uppli es from a c a t alog en s h e ari t hm et i c op e ra Qua i t a t iv e : 290–349 nt s p ec rr e d or e a s ily i n f e d e ifi c di n i Proficient tes s kill s a n ■ e adi n g l en g t hy ,c ompl ex, st ra ct prose texts a s w e ll a s r i nts wpoi e g vi n ompari c ■ s orial t di e wo t ab necess ary t o p e rform mor e nt y s ences r e f n i ex ompl c g n d maki n a n io t forma n g i n izi es h c c n gi en hall g d n a ex ompl g a h es izi n g , a n d a n alyzi n g mul t ipl e ■ ■ i nte gra t i n g ,s y nt pi eces of i e, ag e, ur ess blood pr t abou e abl t nte n i et rpr ct ra te c y a li ivi t i es . a c lo n io t forma n i n d phy s y documents a ex ompl c n d i te t ivi ct al a c i n es Proficient : g for ra e or Sc e lo ■ e p st t ompu c ■ n e h t g n ompari c d n g a n i nce t g i n i s d u n a n io t forma i quantitative ct o ra st ab r ou g mor n i t a c c ro 340–500 : se P o mul i ste p probl e m s wh en t h e ari t e t olv s t io t ra e op c of food i te m s hm et i ns 335–500 : ent um c Do m e probl e h t d n d a e rr e f n ily i s a e t o n ompl e ar ex c e mor e ar s Qua e i t a t iv nt : 350–500 NOTE: Although the literacy levels share common names with the NAEP levels, they do not correspond to the NAEP levels. SOURCE: Hauser, R.M, Edley, C.F. Jr., Koenig, J.A., and Elliott, S.W. (Eds.). (2005). Measuring Literacy: Performance Levels for Adults, Interim Report . Washington, DC: National Academies Press; White, S. and Dillow, S. (2005). Key Concepts and Features of (NCES 2006-471). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy 3

4 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Changes in Adult Literacy and 2003 on any of the three The percentage of adults Figure 2. Percentage of adults in each literacy level: 1992 scales.The percentage of (people age 16 and older liv- and 2003 adults with docu- Intermediate ing in households or prisons) Literacy scale and year ment literacy increased by Below Basic with document 15 43 28 14 1992 4 percentage points and the literacy decreased 2 percent- Prose 2003 44 13* 14 29 percentage of adults with age points between 1992 and Intermediate quantitative litera- 2003 and the percentage of 14 15 22 49 1992 Document cy increased by 3 percentage Below Basic quan- adults with 2003 22 53* 13* 12* points.The percentage of titative literacy decreased by 4 26 13 30 32 1992 Proficient prose adults with percentage points (figure 2). Quantitative 2003 33 22* 33* 13 and document literacy The percentage of adults with 70 10 20 0 10203040506070 100 90 80 30 60 50 40 decreased 2 percentage points literacy did not change Basic Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above between 1992 and 2003. significantly between 1992 Proficient Basic Intermediate Below Basic * Significantly different from 1992. NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental dis- Nonliterate in English abilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. unable to complete a mini- An additional component of mum number of simple liter- the adult population (defined acy screening questions.These as people age 16 and older liv- Figure 3. Percentage of adults in selected prose literacy adults also performed in the ing in households or prisons) levels, including adults who could not be tested: Below Basic category in figure is not shown in figure 2. Field 1992 and 2003 2. Questions on the alterna- interviewers determined that 2 Ye a r tive assessment were asked in percent of adults in 2003 and 3 13 83 1992 either English or Spanish, but 3 percent in 1992 could not 13 2 84 2003 all written materials were in be tested because they spoke a Alternative assessment: 3 English only.While some of language other than English or 50 20 70 80 90 100 0 10203040506070 30 40 10 60 Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above these individuals were able to Spanish and were unable to Could not be tested Basic and above Below Basic due to language identify letters, numbers, and communicate in English or simple words and phrases, Spanish.These adults are living in households or prisons. Results do not add to 100 NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older not included in the totals. or mental disabilities are percent; adults who could not be interviewed because of cognitive most were unable to read and included in the population SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 understand connected text in that is the basis for the per- National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. English.These adults are also centages in figure 3, but not in nonliterate in English. the population of adults that is addition to the adults who assessment—account for the basis for figure 2 and the could not be tested because of 5 percent of the population For 2003, these two groups of other figures in this report, a language difficulty (3 per- (11 million). For 1992, the adults who were nonliterate because there is little or no cent in 1992 and 2 percent in corresponding percentage in English—the 2 percent background data on adults 2003), other adults could not could not be estimated. An who could not be tested who could not be tested. be tested because of a cogni- unknown proportion of the because they could not com- tive or mental disability that population in that Below Basic municate in English or In 2003, about 3 percent of precluded conducting the year would have required such Spanish and the 3 percent adults took an alternative interview (1 percent in 1992 an alternative assessment, but who received the alternative assessment because they were and 1 percent in 2003). it was not available then. In 4

5 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Profile of Adults With Below Basic Prose Literacy another non-English language In 2003, 14 percent of Percentage of adults with selected characteristics in Table 2. before starting school, these American adults (defined as the Below Basic prose literacy level and in the total NAAL population: 2003 individuals account for 8 per- people age 16 and older liv- cent of the population. ing in households or prisons) Total NAAL population Characteristic Below Basic had Below Basic prose litera- Race/ethnicity Adults without a high school cy (figure 2). Examining the 70 37 te Whi k2012 c Bla degree or GED represent 15 characteristics of these adults pa n c s Hi 12 39 i percent of the total NAAL provides a profile of the P / n ia A s r44 e d n la s I c ifi c a population but 55 percent of adults with the lowest prose Gender the adults in the lowest prose literacy performance. Mal e 46 49 literacy level (table 2). Fifty- 51 F e mal e 54 Age two percent of adults in the Hispanics, who represent 12 5 6 16–18 total NAAL population com- percent of the NAAL popula- 9 19–24 11 pleted at least some educa- tion, accounted for 39 per- 28 25 25–39 tion beyond high school, cent of the adults with Below 20 16 40–49 21 20 50–64 compared to 14 percent of Basic prose literacy (table 2). 15 26 65+ adults with Below Basic prose Twenty percent of adults with Language spoken before literacy. prose literacy Below Basic starting school n n E ly 52 81 gli s h o were Black. In contrast, while n E h22 s i d n h a n pa S s gli Forty-six percent of adults 70 percent of the NAAL e gli s h a n d o t h E r la e 24 n n guag with Below Basic prose literacy population is White, 37 per- n pa S h358 s i had one or more disabilities, cent of adults with Below t 95 O h e e r la n guag Educational attainment compared to 30 percent of prose literacy were Basic high e om sc 15 55 hool L ess t ha n / s adults in the NAAL popula- White. y4 GED/high sc 5 e quival enc hool tion (table 2).The percentage te 23 26 hool gradua High sc of adults with multiple dis- Adults age 65 or older repre- hool 4 Vo c a t io n 6 t rad e /bu s i ness sc al/ e g e om oll c e S 411 abilities in the Below Basic sent 15 percent of the NAAL gr e ar d e /2-y 312 ee s ’ A ss o c ia te prose level (21 percent) was population but 26 percent of e te Coll 212 g e gradua significantly higher than the adults in the lowest prose lit- e 111 /d ee gr Gradua te st udi es percentage of adults with eracy level (table 2). Although Disability status n 5 Vi s io e probl m o n ly 7 multiple disabilities in the 35 percent of adults with e H e ari n g probl 5 m o n ly 4 NAAL population (9 per- prose literacy Below Basic t ar i n g di s L n y o n ly 4 3 e abili cent). spoke Spanish or Spanish and h s abili t y o n ly 10 8 O t e r di 21 di abili t i es s 9 ipl t Mul e t i es 54 70 No di s abili NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this table. In 1992, respondents were allowed to identify only one race. In 2003, respondents were allowed to identify multiple races. In 2003, 2 percent of respondents identified multiple races and are not included in the White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander categories in this table. All adults of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of race. The Asian/Pacific Islander catego- ry includes Native Hawaiians. The English and Spanish category includes adults who spoke only English and Spanish, as well as adults who spoke English, Spanish, and another non-English language. The Spanish category includes adults who spoke only Spanish, as well as adults who spoke Spanish and another non-English language. The Other language category includes only adults who did not speak English or Spanish. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 5

6 st Century A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Literacy by Gender quantitative literacy for men 1992 and 2003, while the Between 1992 and 2003, the In 2003, average prose literacy was not significantly different average score for men average prose score for and average document litera- from 1992 (figure 4). dropped by 5 points. women remained at 277, cy were higher for women while the average prose score than for men, while average The distribution of men and In 2003, the average quanti- for men decreased by 4 quantitative literacy was high- women across the literacy lev- tative literacy score for points (figure 4). On the doc- er for men than for women els also changed between 1992 women increased 10 points ument literacy scale, women (figure 4). and 2003 (figures 5, 6, and 7). from 1992, while average gained 4 points between Figure 4. Average prose, document, and quantitative literacy scores of adults, by gender: 1992 and 2003 Average score Quantitative Document Prose 500 300 286 283 279* 277 277 276 274 272* 272* 269 269* 268 250 200 150 0 Men Women Women Men Men Women Gender 2003 1992 * Significantly different from 1992. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 6

7 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century age points higher than the 14 percent in 1992 to 11 centage points, while the per- On the quantitative scale, for percentage of women (figure percent in 2003 (figure 6). centage of women with Below example, the percentage of 7). For the prose and docu- Basic quantitative literacy fell Below men and women with ment scales, there were no Despite the overall gain made by 6 percentage points. Basic literacy decreased significant differences between by women in quantitative lit- between 1992 and 2003 (fig- the percentage of men and eracy, in 2003, the percentage The percentage of women ure 7). For men, the percent- literacy Proficient women with of men with Proficient quanti- with document Below Basic age with Below Basic quantita- (figures 5 and 6). tative literacy was 5 percent- literacy also decreased, from tive literacy declined by 3 per- Figure 6. Percentage of adults in each document literacy Figure 5. Percentage of adults in each prose literacy level, by level, by gender: 1992 and 2003 gender: 1992 and 2003 Gender and year Gender and year 14 21 49 17 27 42 16 15 1992 1992 Men Men 2003 2003 51* 13* 23* 14 13* 15 29 43 14 23 50 13 29 14 13 44 1992 1992 Women Women 2003 2003 11* 13 54* 22 12 29 14 46 20 30 10 20 30 40 40 50 60 50 60 70 70 80 90 100 80 90 100 0 10203040506070 10 0 10203040506070 Percent Below Basic Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above Percent Basic and above Below Basic Basic Proficient Intermediate Basic Intermediate Proficient Below Basic * Significantly different from 1992. * Significantly different from 1992. NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental dis- abilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Figure 7. Percentage of adults in each quantitative literacy level, by gender: 1992 and 2003 Gender and year 17 31 29 24 1992 Men 2003 33* 21* 31* 16 9 28 34 28 1992 Women 2003 22* 35 32* 11* 70 50 10 60 20 80 90 100 0 10203040506070 30 40 Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above Intermediate Basic Proficient Below Basic * Significantly different from 1992. NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental dis- abilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 7

8 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Literacy by Race/Ethnicity Below Basic Hispanics with prose literacy increased 9 lit- Below Basic The percentage of Whites, Islanders with quantitative literacy was 50 percentage points between Blacks, and Asians/Pacific eracy decreased between percent in both 1992 and 1992 and 2003, while the 1992 and 2003 on the prose, 2003 (figure 10). percentage with Below Basic document, and quantitative NAAL Population, document literacy increased 8 scales (figures 8, 9, and 10). 1992 and 2003 Although the percentage of percentage points (figures 8 Among Hispanics, the per- Below Basic Hispanics with and 9). The percentage of centage with Below Basic Table 3. Percentage of adults, by race/ethnicity: 1992 and 2003 Race/ethnicity 2003 1992 Figure 8. Percentage of adults in each prose literacy level, White 77 70* by race/ethnicity: 1992 and 2003 11 12 Black Hispanic 8 12* Race/ethnicity Asian/Pacific Islander 2 4* and year * Significantly different from 1992. 1992 18 25 9 48 White NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of 2003 25 7* 17 51* rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older. Adults who could not be inter- 30 41 27 2 1992 viewed due to language spoken or cognitive or Black mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 per- 2003 31* 43 24* 2 cent in 1992) are excluded from this table. In 1992, respondents were allowed to identify only one 1992 5 33 35 28 race. In 2003, respondents were allowed to identify Hispanic multiple races. In 2003, 2 percent of respondents 2003 23* 4* 44* 30* identified multiple races and are not included in the White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander cate- 25 9 36 30 1992 Asian/ gories in this table. All adults of Hispanic origin are Pacific Islander classified as Hispanic, regardless of race. The 2003 14* 32 42 12 Asian/Pacific Islander category includes Native Hawaiians. 80 50 60 70 30 90 100 0 10203040506070 10 40 20 Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Below Basic Basic Proficient Intermediate Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. * Significantly different from 1992. The percentage of Whites dults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. A ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental decreased between 1992 e excluded from this figure. In 1992, respondents were disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) ar allowed to identify only one race. In 2003, respondents were allowed to identify multiple races. In 2003, 2 percent and 2003, while the per- of respondents identified multiple races and are not included in the White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander cate- centage of Hispanics and gories in this figure. All adults of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of race. The Asian/Pacific Islander category includes Native Hawaiians. Asians/Pacific Islanders SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 increased.The percentage National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. of Hispanics rose 4 per- centage points and the percentage of Asians/ Pacific Islanders increased 2 percentage points.The percentage of Blacks did not differ significantly between 1992 and 2003. 8

9 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century literacy (figure 8). On all literacy was signifi- Proficient tative literacy (figures 8, 9, document literacy increased three scales, Hispanics were cantly higher than the and 10). between 1992 and 2003, the more likely than Blacks to percentage of Blacks and percentage of Hispanics with have Proficient literacy (figures Hispanics (figures 8, 9, and For prose, document, and document litera- Below Basic 8, 9, and 10). 10). A higher percentage of quantitative literacy in 2003, cy was lower than the per- Whites than Asians/Pacific the percentage of Whites and centage of Hispanics with prose Proficient Islanders had Asians/Pacific Islanders with Below Basic prose or quanti- Figure 9. Percentage of adults in each document literacy Figure 10. Percentage of adults in each quantitative literacy level, by race/ethnicity: 1992 and 2003 level, by race/ethnicity: 1992 and 2003 Race/ethnicity Race/ethnicity and year and year 1992 1992 53 18 10 19 32 34 15 19 White White 2003 2003 17 39* 32 13* 15* 58* 19 8* 33 1 2 34 30 31 57 12 1992 1992 Black Black 2003 2003 40* 47* 35 24* 36* 2 15* 2 1992 1992 28 50 3 16 31 29 38 5 Hispanic Hispanic 2003 2003 36* 26* 33* 5 50 4 17 29 19 29 28 10 12 31 23 48 1992 1992 Asian/ Asian/ Pacific Islander Pacific Islander 2003 2003 19* 11* 12 34 22 35 13 54 10 30 40 50 60 70 80 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 90 0 10203040506070 100 0 10203040506070 30 20 10 20 Percent Below Basic Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above Percent Basic and above Below Basic Proficient Intermediate Basic Below Basic Intermediate Basic Proficient * Significantly different from 1992. * Significantly different from 1992. NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. A dults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding . Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. In 1992, respondents were disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) ar e excluded from this figure. In 1992, respondents were allowed to identify only one race. In 2003, respondents were allowed to identify multiple races. In 2003, 2 percent allowed to identify only one race. In 2003, respondents were allowed to identify multiple races. In 2003, 2 percent of respondents identified multiple races and are not included in the White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander cate- of respondents identified multiple races and are not included in the White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander cate- gories in this figure. All adults of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of race. The Asian/Pacific gories in this figure. All adults of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of race. The Asian/Pacific Islander category includes Native Hawaiians. Islander category includes Native Hawaiians. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 9

10 st Century A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Literacy by Age document, and quantitative Although the average literacy groups of adults, the percent- The average prose, document, literacy in 2003 (figures 11, of adults age 65 and older literacy Below Basic age with and quantitative literacy of 12, and 13; quantitative levels increased between 1992 and fell across the literacy scales adults in the oldest age groups not shown). Among adults 2003, adults in this age group (figures 12 and 13; results for (50 to 64 and 65 and older) age 65 and older, 23 percent had the lowest average litera- the quantitative scale are not increased between 1992 and Below Basic had prose literacy, cy in 2003 and accounted for shown here but are available 2003 (figure 11). For the same 27 percent had Below Basic the largest percentage of on the NAAL website). document literacy, and prose, Below Basic adults with NAAL Population, 1992 and 2003 Percentage of Table 4. adults, by age Average prose, document, and quantitative literacy scores of adults, by age: Figure 11. groups: 1992 and 1992 and 2003 2003 2003 Age 1992 Average score Prose Document Quantitative 500 16–18 6 6 11* 13 19–24 293 292 292* 289* 300 288 286 284 282 280 279 278* 25–39 28* 33 270* 270 270 289 267 286 283* 282 282* 20* 17 40–49 257* 277 277 277* 276 272 269 248* 268 267 264 16 50–64 21* 250 258 235* 65+ 15 15 235 235 221 * Significantly different from 1992. 200 NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. 150 Adults who could not be interviewed due to lan- guage spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 0 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are exclud- 16–18 19–24 25–39 40–49 50–64 65+ 65+ 16–18 19–24 25–39 40–49 50–64 16–18 19–24 25–39 40–49 50–64 65+ ed from this table. Age SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of 1992 2003 Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and * Significantly different from 1992. 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. due to language spoken or cognitive or men- NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed tal disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. The aging of America’s Literacy Survey and 2003 National SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Assessment of Adult Literacy. adults is reflected in the increase in the percentage of adults between the ages of 40 and 49 and between the ages of 50 and 64. While the percentage of adults in these age groups rose between 1992 and 2003, the percentage of adults between the ages of 19 and 24 and between 25 and 39 decreased. 10

11 st Century A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 (figures 12 and 13; quantita- 2003 across the literacy scales decreased for adults ages 40 Below Basic 34 percent had tive data not shown). The (figure 11). to 49, while the average quantitative literacy. percentage of adults age 65 quantitative literacy of adults Proficient and older with liter- Among adults ages 50 to 64, ages 25 to 39 increased. Average prose literacy scores acy did not change on any of Proficient the percentage with Average literacy for adults in for adults in the 25 to 39 and the three scales between 1992 prose, document, and quanti- the 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 40 to 49 age groups fell from and 2003. tative literacy increased age groups was not signifi- 1992 to 2003 (figure 11). between 1992 and 2003 cantly different in 1992 and Average document literacy Percentage of adults in each prose literacy level, Percentage of adults in each document literacy Figure 13. Figure 12. by age: 1992 and 2003 level, by age: 1992 and 2003 Age and year Age and year 1992 10 35 49 6 1992 10 57 24 10 16–18 16–18 2003 11 5 48 37 2003 24 11 9 56 1992 29 49 13 10 1992 7 15 19 58 19–24 19–24 2003 12 48 29 11 2003 13 9 20 58 1992 10 20 24 46 1992 21 9 18 53 25–39 25–39 2003 25 18 12* 45 2003 8 17* 56* 19 45 23 9 23 1992 1992 10 18 52 20 40–49 40–49 11 15* 47 27* 2003 2003 10 20* 54 15* 16 11 31 43 1992 1992 9 17 27 48 50–64 50–64 15* 44 27* 13* 2003 2003 23* 12* 12* 54* 27 33 3 37 1992 1992 2 29 31 38 65+ 65+ 34* 4 23* 38 2003 2003 38* 27* 33 3 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 10203040506070 100 80 70 10 20 30 40 50 60 90 100 0 10203040506070 Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above Basic Intermediate Proficient Below Basic Proficient Intermediate Basic Below Basic * Significantly different from 1992. * Significantly different from 1992. . Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. A dults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 11

12 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Literacy by Language Spoken Before Starting School Fewer adults who spoke and document literacy of Scores for adults who spoke NAAL Population, English only or English and adults who spoke English Spanish or Spanish and anoth- a non-Spanish language before starting school (English er non-English language 1992 and 2003 before starting school had only, English and Spanish, before starting school dropped Below Basic prose, document, English and other language) 17 points from 1992 to 2003 Percentage of Table 5. and quantitative literacy in did not change significantly for prose and document liter- adults, by 2003 than in 1992 (figures between 1992 and 2003, acy but did not change signif- language spoken before starting 15 and 16; results for the although their average quanti- icantly for quantitative literacy school: 1992 and quantitative scale are not tative literacy increased. (figure 14).The average prose 2003 Language spoken 2003 1992 before starting school 86 81* English only 2 2 English and Spanish Figure 14. Average prose, document, and quantitative literacy scores of adults, by English and other language 4 3 language spoken before starting school: 1992 and 2003 5 8* Spanish 5 4 Other language Average score Quantitative Document Prose * Significantly different from 1992. 500 NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of 300 289* 289* rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of 283 282 280 278 276 275 age and older living in households or prisons. 273 271 270* 268 262 261* Adults who could not be interviewed due to lan- 260 259 257* 255 253 249 247 guage spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 246 250 241 239 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are exclud- ed from this table. The English and Spanish catego- 216 212 211 ry includes adults who spoke only English and 205 199* 200 Spanish, as well as adults who spoke English, 188* Spanish, and another non-English language. The Spanish category includes adults who spoke only Spanish, as well as adults who spoke Spanish and 150 another non-English language. The Other language category includes only adults who did not speak 0 English or Spanish. English English English Other Spanish English English English English English Spanish Other English Spanish Other language language only and and only and other and other and other language only and SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of language language Spanish Spanish language Spanish Education Sciences, National Center for Education Language spoken before starting school Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 1992 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. * Significantly different from 1992. due to language spoken or cognitive or men- NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed The language background des adults who spoke only English and Spanish, as tal disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. The English and Spanish category inclu of America’s adults well as adults who spoke English, Spanish, and another non-English language. The Spanish category includes adults who spoke only S panish, as well as adults who spoke Spanish and another non-English language. The Other language category includes only adults who did not speak English or Spanish. changed between 1992 Literacy Survey and 2003 National SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult and 2003.The percentage Assessment of Adult Literacy. of adults who spoke English before starting school decreased, while the percentage of adults who spoke Spanish or Spanish and another non-English language before starting school increased. 12

13 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century eracy, 49 percent had Below English-language-only and 1992 and 2003 (figures 15 shown here but are available document literacy, and Basic the English and other lan- and 16). on the NAAL website). Below Basic 62 percent had guage groups. Among adults who spoke quantitative literacy (figures Average document literacy in Spanish or Spanish and 15 and 16; quantitative data In 2003, among adults who 2003 was highest for the another non-English lan- not shown). spoke Spanish or Spanish and English-language-only group guage before starting school, another non-English language (figure 14). Prose and quanti- Below the percentage with before starting school, 61 per- tative literacy did not differ Basic prose and document lit- cent had Below Basic prose lit- significantly between the eracy increased between Figure 15. Percentage of adults in each prose literacy level, Figure 16. Percentage of adults in each document literacy by language spoken before starting school: level, by language spoken before starting school: 1992 and 2003 1992 and 2003 Language spoken Language spoken before starting school before starting school and year and year 12 16 21 51 16 11 27 46 1992 1992 English only English only 2003 2003 56* 21 9* 13* 9* 27 49* 15 1992 1992 7 30 45 18 4 19 38 39 English and English and Spanish Spanish 2003 2003 12 29 54* 5 14 38 42 6 English and English and 11 24 19 46 43 13 30 15 1992 1992 other other 10* 57* 8 25 7* 33 51* 9 2003 2003 language language 27 41 30 2 30 16 2 52 1992 1992 Spanish Spanish 49* 3 23 25* 1* 13* 25* 61* 2003 2003 26 29 39 7 32 35 5 29 1992 1992 Other Other language language 24 46* 10* 20* 26 7 34 33 2003 2003 60 80 70 40 30 50 90 100 0 10203040506070 20 10 10 70 60 50 40 30 20 80 100 0 10203040506070 90 Percent Below Basic Percent Below Basic Percent Basic and above Percent Basic and above Below Basic Basic Intermediate Proficient Below Basic Proficient Basic Intermediate * Significantly different from 1992. * Significantly different from 1992. . Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- dults are defined as people 16 years of age and older liv- NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. A NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental ing in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. The English and Spanish catego- disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. The English and Spanish catego- ry includes adults who spoke only English and Spanish, as well as adults who spoke English, Spanish, and another ry includes adults who spoke only English and Spanish, as well as adults who spoke English, Spanish, and another non-English language. The Spanish category includes adults who spoke only Spanish, as well as adults who spoke non-English language. The Spanish category includes adults who spoke only Spanish, as well as adults who spoke Spanish and another non-English language. The Other language category includes only adults who did not speak Spanish and another non-English language. The Other language category includes only adults who did not speak English or Spanish. English or Spanish. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 13

14 st Century A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Literacy by Educational Attainment adults who did not complete for adults with educational exception of adults who were Average prose literacy high school; these adults also attainment less than some still in high school or com- decreased for all levels of edu- accounted for the largest college.There were no signif- pleted a GED (table 7). cational attainment between group with Below Basic prose, icant differences in average Average document literacy 1992 and 2003, with the document, and quantitative lit- quantitative literacy between also decreased among adults eracy (tables 7 and 8). On the 1992 and 2003 for any edu- who completed education NAAL Population, quantitative scale, for example, cational attainment level. above a vocational, trade, or 1992 and 2003 over 60 percent of adults business school. Differences in without a high school degree In 2003, literacy was lowest document literacy in 1992 had Below Basic literacy. across the three scales for and 2003 were not significant Percentage of Table 6. adults, by educational Average prose, document, and quantitative literacy scores Table 7. attainment: 1992 of adults, by educational attainment: 1992 and 2003 and 2003 Literacy scale and Educational attainment 1992 2003 educational attainment 2003 1992 3* 4 Still in high school Prose 15* 21 Less than/some high school sc St ill i n high hool 268 262 high sc hool e 216 207* om L ess t ha n / s 4 5* GED/high school equivalency hool quival 265 y GED/high sc enc e 260 26* High school graduate 27 268 te 262* hool gradua High sc Vocational/trade/ 5 business school 6 t al/ n io t a c Vo 268* 278 ness i s /bu hool e rad sc Some college 9 11* 292 c oll e g om 287* S e e Associate’s/2-year degree 11 12* ee ar d e /2-y s ’ gr te ia c o ss A e 298* 306 College graduate 10 12* Coll te 325 314* e g gradua e 11* 9 Graduate studies/degree 327* gr ee 340 es udi st e te Gradua /d Document * Significantly different from 1992. n 265 St ill i 270 high sc hool NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of ha 208 211 s L ess t hool n / om e high sc rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. e GED/high sc hool 257 quival enc y 259 Adults who could not be interviewed due to lan- 261 te High sc hool gradua 258 guage spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 hool a 267 sc 273 Vo c t io n al/ t rad e /bu s i ness percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are exclud- ed from this table. 280* S om e c oll e g e 288 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of A 291* ss o c ia te ’ s /2-y e ar d e gr ee 301 Education Sciences, National Center for Education 317 303* Coll e g e gradua te Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and ee gr e /d es udi te st 311* 328 Gradua 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Quantitative St ill i n high sc hool 263 261 The educational attain- 211 209 L ess t ha n / s om e high sc hool ment of America’s adults y GED/high sc hool e quival enc 265 265 269 High sc hool gradua te 267 increased between 1992 hool sc e 279 280 Vo c a t io n al/ t rad ness /bu s i and 2003.The percentage oll om e c S e g e 295 294 of adults with less than a te A ss o c ia ar d ’ s /2-y e 305 e gr ee 305 Coll e g e gradua te 324 323 high school degree or 332 Gradua te st udi es /d e gr ee 336 GED/Equivalency * Significantly different from 1992. decreased by 6 percentage NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed points, while more adults due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this tab le. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National completed an associate’s Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. degree or more education. 14

15 st Century A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 fell 10 percentage points and document literacy (table who stopped their education In 2003, prose, document, and between 1992 and 2003. 8). On the prose scale, the after graduating high school. quantitative literacy rose with percentage of college gradu- successive levels of educational The distribution of adults literacy Proficient ates with The declining performance of attainment beginning with across the four literacy levels decreased from 40 percent in adults with higher education- the completion of high school on the quantitative scale did 1992 to 31 percent in 2003. al attainment was reflected in (table 7). Average prose, docu- not change significantly For adults who took graduate the decrease between 1992 ment, and quantitative literacy between 1992 and 2003 classes or completed a gradu- and 2003 in the percentage of for adults who completed a within any of the educational ate degree, the percentage adults with postsecondary GED was not significantly attainment categories. Proficient with prose literacy degrees with prose Proficient different from that of adults Table 8. Percentage of adults in each prose, document, and quantitative literacy level, by educational attainment: 1992 and 2003 Intermediate Below Basic Basic Proficient Literacy scale and 1992 2003 1992 2003 1992 educational attainment 2003 2003 1992 Prose sc 14 36 37 47 45 6 4 ill i St n hool high 11 / ha e high sc hool 45 50* 38 33* 17 16 1 1 t s om ess L n y9 10 45 46 43 3 3 42 enc quival hool sc GED/high e 37 39 48 44* 5 4 High sc hool gradua te 11 13 al/ t rad e /bu s i ness sc hool 9 10 29 36* 53 49 9 5* Vo c t a io n 59 e e 4 5 23 25 59 g 14 11 oll c om S e te ’ s /2-y e ar d e gr ee 2 4* 16 20* 58 56 23 19 ss o c ia A gradua 2 3 10 14* 49 53 40 31* Coll e g e te 48 es gr ee 1 1 6 10* 43 e 51 41* st udi Gradua te /d Document hool 10 13 24 24 57 54 9 9 St ill i n high sc n / s om e high sc hool 44 45 32 29* 23 25 1 2 L ha ess t 3 enc 13 31 30 58 53 y9 4 quival e hool GED/high sc 12 13 28 29 54 52 6 5 High sc hool gradua te io 60 al/ t rad e /bu s i ness sc hool 8 9 22 26 t 59 10 7 Vo c a n c e g e 4 5 15 19* 67 65 14 10 oll om S e te c /2-y e ar d e gr ee 3 3 12 15 60 66* 25 16* o ss s ’ ia A 37 2 9 11 52 62* 2 25* gradua e te e Coll g es /d e gr ee 1 1 5 9* Gradua 59* 45 31* te st udi 48 Quantitative hool 31 31 37 38 27 25 6 5 high St ill i n sc 25 n ha om e high sc hool 65 64 / 25 9 10 1 1 t ess L s quival enc y25 26 46 43 26 28 3 3 GED/high sc hool e 26 hool gradua 41 42 29 29 5 5 High sc te 24 io a t rad e /bu s i ness sc hool 18 18 39 41 35 35 8 6 c al/ n t Vo 42 oll g e 11 10 34 36 e 43 13 11 c e S om ia te ’ s /2-y e ar d e gr ee 8 ss 29 30 45 45 18 18 o c 7 A gradua te 5 4 21 22 44 43 31 31 g Coll e e udi 2 /d e gr ee st 3 15 18 43 43 39 36 es Gradua te * Significantly different from 1992. ds or prisons. Adults who could not be inter- are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in househol NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults viewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from t his table. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 15

16 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Literacy by Employment Status cent were not in the labor time increased 6 percentage percent were employed full The ability to complete dif- force and 6 percent were points between 1992 and time (figure 17; results for the ferent literacy tasks may influ- unemployed. 2003, and the percentage document and quantitative ence employability, so it is with document Below Basic scales are not shown here but useful to look at the distribu- Sixty-four percent of adults literacy who were employed are available on the NAAL tion of adults by literacy lev- prose literacy with Proficient full time increased 5 percent- website). els across the four categories and 54 percent of adults with age points (figure 17; docu- of employment. Among adults prose literacy Intermediate ment and quantitative results The percentage of adults Below Basic prose litera- with were employed full time not shown). For adults with with Below Basic prose litera- cy, 51 percent were not in the (figure 17). Eighteen percent prose literacy, 38 per- Basic cy who were employed full labor force in 2003, while 35 Figure 17. Percentage of adults in each employment NAAL Population, category, by prose literacy level: 1992 and 2003 1992 and 2003 100 90 80 Table 9. Percentage of 70 adults, by 60 employment Percent 50 employed status: 1992 and 66 64 54 54 40 2003 44 42 30 35* Employment status 1992 2003 29 20 49 50 Full time 10 15 14 14 14 12 12 10 8 Par t time 13 13 0 5 5 5 6 6 6 3 3 Unemployed 5 5 10 17 18 32 Not in labor force 33 26 27 20 38 40 NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of 30 51* Percent not 57 rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of employed 40 age or older living in households. Adults who could 50 not be interviewed due to language spoken or cog- nitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 60 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this table. 70 1992 1992 1992 1992 2003 2003 2003 2003 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Basic Proficient Intermediate Below Basic Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and Literacy level and year 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Unemployed Part time Full time Not in labor force The employment status of * Significantly different from 1992. America’s adults did not dults are defined as people 16 years of age or older living NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.A change significantly in households. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. between 1992 and 2003. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 Over 60 percent of all National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. adults were employed either full or part time. 16

17 st Century A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 tive literacy was highest for time and those not in the Among adults employed full Proficient prose of adults with adults employed full time labor force. time, average prose and docu- literacy and 27 percent of (figure 18). Literacy was low- ment literacy scores decreased adults with Intermediate prose est across the three scales for In 2003, average prose and by 5 points between 1992 literacy were not in the labor adults who were not in the document literacy was high- and 2003, while average force; 3 percent of adults with labor force. est among adults employed quantitative scores rose by prose literacy and 5 Proficient full or part time (the differ- 4 points (figure 18). Average percent of adults with ences between these groups quantitative literacy also prose literacy Intermediate were not statistically signifi- increased between 1992 and were unemployed. cant), and average quantita- 2003 for adults employed part Figure 18. Average prose, document, and quantitative literacy scores of adults, by employment status: 1992 and 2003 Average score Quantitative Document Prose 500 296* 292 300 290 287* 286 285* 285 281* 281 281 279 277 270 269 265 263 261 261 261* 255 252 250* 247 244 250 200 150 0 Full time Not in Not in Not in Part time Unemployed Full time Full time Part time Unemployed Part time Unemployed labor force labor force labor force 1992 2003 Employment status * Significantly different from 1992. uage spoken or cognitive or mental disabili- NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age or older living in households. Adults who could not be interviewed due to lang ties (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure. Literacy Survey and 2003 National SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Assessment of Adult Literacy. 17

18 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Population and Sample Size, and Data Collection Procedures changes in literacy levels from ment were presented in in prisons in 2003. The 2003 assessment was 1992 to 2003, but result in English only. In 2003, the administered to a nationally the ability of the 2003 assess- corresponding tasks were pre- Data collection for the representative sample of ment to provide more accu- sented in either English or household sample was con- 19,714 adults ages 16 and rate data about the English Spanish, although the materi- ducted between May 2003 older residing in households literacy levels of adults. als to be read were presented and February 2004 and for or prisons. only in English. As a result, the prison sample between The final household sample fewer adults had to be March 2004 and July 2004. A smaller number of respon- response rate was 62 percent excluded due to the language The household and prison dents (1,173) were selected and the final prison sample of the interview. samples were combined to for the prison sample and response rate was 88 percent. create a national sample rep- were interviewed in the facil- NCES statistical standards A second change was resentative of the 222,400,000 ities where they were incar- require a nonresponse bias designed to make the assess- American adults in house- cerated. Sampled adults resid- analysis when the unit ment more like the demands holds or prisons. ing in households, but tem- response rate for a sample is of everyday life. In 1992, porarily in jail—where the less than 85 percent.The respondents were not allowed Administration procedures for median stay is about two nonresponse bias analysis of to use a calculator for most the 2003 assessment were weeks—would have been the household sample revealed quantitative literacy questions. changed to provide more interviewed at some other differences in the background In 2003, respondents had accurate data about English time during the ten month characteristics of respondents access to a calculator. literacy levels of adults. One period of data collection. who participated in the assess- Allowing respondents to use change was designed to ment compared to those who calculators is consistent with increase the number of The household sample is rep- refused. Detailed information the assessment's functional Spanish speaking adults who resentative of the 221,020,000 about the nonresponse bias definition of literacy. Both of could participate in the study. adults in households, while analysis is available on the these changes require some In 1992, the easy literacy tasks the prison sample is represen- NAAL website. caution in interpreting the at the beginning of the assess- tative of the 1,380,000 adults A nonresponse bias adjust- Variable Definitions ment was performed to 65 and older. Age groups were cent of respondents identified Definitions of all population reduce the bias due to selected to correspond to the multiple races. Due to small sam- groups presented in this report respondent refusal.The key life stages of many adults ple sizes, the Multiracial and are available on the NAAL web- adjustment corrected for the (though not all adults enter the Other categories were combined. site. Literacy results for adults initial nonresponse bias, stages at the ages specified): Results for Multiracial/Other and who indicated they were resulting in negligible bias for American Indian/Alaska Native American Indian/Alaska Native ompletion of C 16 to 18: ■ the household sample.The adults, as well as results by or Multiracial/Other are not secondary education Hispanic origin, will be included reported separately but are adjustment procedures are C ollege or job ■ 19 to 24: in future NAAL reports. included in the total population discussed in detail in the training literacy estimates. forthcoming 2003 NAAL All respondents were asked to 25 to 39: Early career ■ report their birth dates, and this omparisons between 1992 and C Technical Report.The analy- 40 to 49: Mid career ■ information was used to calcu- 2003 for multiracial adults are not ses presented in this report late their age. Age groups possible because respondents 50 to 64: Late career ■ are based on data from the reported are 16 to 18, 19 to 24, were allowed to identify only one corrected household sample ■ 65 and older: Retirement 25 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 64, and race in 1992. In 2003, about 2 per- and the prison sample. 18

19 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Sample Assessment Questions Respondents who participated in the 2003 assessment were asked to complete prose, document, and quantitative literacy tasks of varying levels of difficulty. The sample questions on the following pages illustrate the types of tasks used to measure the literacy of America's adults. These questions were originally developed for the 1992 survey and were reused in 2003. Consistent with the design of the assessment, each sample question appears before the text or doc- ument needed to answer the question. The percentage of respondents who answered the question correctly is reported, as well as the percentage of correct responses for each of the four literacy assessment levels. More information about the sample assessment questions can be found on the Web at ttp://nc es .ed v/naal . .go h 19

20 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Prose Literacy Question Refer to the article on the next page to answer the following question. According to the brochure, why is it difficult for people to know if they have high blood pressure? _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ Correct answer Any statement such as the following: Symptoms are not usually present High blood pressure is silent Percentage of adults who answered the question correctly, 2003 Intermediate Proficient All Adults Below Basic Basic 96 100 70 11 74 due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from these data. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Asses sment of Adult Literacy. 20

21 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Reduced from original copy 21

22 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Prose Literacy Question Refer to the article on the next page to answer the following question. What is the purpose of the Se Habla Español expo? _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ Correct answer Any statement such as the following: To enable people to better serve and sell to the Hispanic community To improve marketing strategies to the Hispanic community To enable people to establish contacts to serve the Hispanic community Percentage of adults who answered the question correctly, 2003 All Adults Basic Intermediate Proficient Below Basic 60 # 3 16 16 # Rounds to zero. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from these data. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Asses sment of Adult Literacy. 22

23 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Reduced from original copy 23

24 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Document Literacy Question Seventy-eight percent of what specific group agree that their school does a good job of encouraging parental involvement in educational areas? ______________________________________________________________________________________ Reduced from original copy Correct answer Junior high teachers Percentage of adults who answered the question correctly, 2003 All Adults Basic Below Basic Intermediate Proficient 36 47 4 # 98 # Rounds to zero. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from these data. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Asses sment of Adult Literacy. 24

25 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Quantitative Literacy Question Suppose that you had your oil tank filled with 140.0 gallons of oil, as indicated on the bill, and you wanted to take advantage of the five cents ($.05) per gallon deduction. 1. Figure out how much the deduction would be if you paid the bill within 10 days. Enter the amount of the deduction on the bill in the space provided. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Reduced from original copy Correct answer $7.00 Percentage of adults who answered the question correctly, 2003 All Adults Below Basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 52 1 92 100 40 NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from these data. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Asses sment of Adult Literacy. 25

26 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Document & Quantitative Literacy Questions This is an example of a task that was scored in three separate parts and treated as three separate questions. The first two questions were included on the document scale and the third question was included on the quantitative scale. Refer to the form on the next page to answer the following question. Use the following information to fill in the receipt for certified mail.Then fill in the "TOTAL Postage and Fees" line. You are sending a package to Doris Carter. ● Her address is 19 Main Street, Augusta, GA 30901. ● ● The postage for the package is $1.86. The fee for certified mail is $0.75. ● Correct answer Question 1 (Document): Enters name and address correctly. No penalty for misspelling. Percentage of adults who answered the question correctly, 2003 All Adults Below Basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 65 8 548697 due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from these data. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed sment of Adult Literacy. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Asses Correct answer Question 2 (Document): Enters $1.86 and $0.75 on the postage and certified fees lines respectively. Percentage of adults who answered the question correctly, 2003 Proficient All Adults Below Basic Basic Intermediate 76 13 73 96 100 due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from these data. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed sment of Adult Literacy. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Asses Correct answer Question 3 (Quantitative): Either of the following: Correctly totals postage and fees: $2.61 Correctly totals incorrect fees entered on form Percentage of adults who answered the question correctly, 2003 All Adults Below Basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 33 88 96 99 78 due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from these data. NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Asses sment of Adult Literacy. 26

27 st A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21 Century Reduced from original copy 27

28 Future NAAL Reports NAAL on the Web: h ttp://nc es .ed .go v/naal In addition to providing estimates of the literacy of The National Assessment of Adult Literacy website provides easy access to: America’s adults, the 2003 ■ Overview of the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy assessment collected extensive ■ Results from the 2003 and 1992 literacy assessments, including previously information about characteris- published reports tics of the adult population and literacy activities among adults. ■ Technical information about the 2003 assessment, including definitions of report- Future NAAL reports will cover ing groups, sampling and data collection, and methods for estimating a variety of topics, including: literacy scores ■ Literacy in workplace, family, ■ Prose, document, and quantitative literacy estimates (means and percentage in and community settings, each literacy level) and standard errors for the population groups summarized in including the use of tech- this report nology and health literacy ■ Downloadable fact sheets on the components and new features of the 2003 ■ Fluency and basic reading assessment skills, including the literacy ■ Searchable questions tool featuring released items from the 2003 and 1992 of America’s least literate assessments adults Webcast presentations on the 2003 assessment ■ Literacy of incarcerated ■ Major government, national, and international adult literacy websites ■ adults ■ Public-use data files to facilitate secondary analysis. ■ Technical issues associated with the assessment and Visit the NAAL website to learn more about upcoming reports, news, and events. instructions for using the data file Analysis of different dimen- ■ This report was prepared by Mark Kutner, Elizabeth Greenberg, and Justin Baer at the American Institutes sions of literacy . v .go [email protected] ES, at sheida.whit C for Research. For further information, contact Sheida White, NAAL Project Officer, N U.S. Department of Education ED Pubs U.S. POSTAGE PAID 8242-B Sandy Court U.S. DEPARTMENT Jessup, MD 20794-1398 OF EDUCATION PERMIT NO. G-17 Official Business Penalty for Private Use, $300

Related documents