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Shocking Facts: 23 Statistics on Illiteracy in America
1. How many people in the U.S. are illiterate?
Approximately 32 million adults in America are considered to be illiterate; about 14% of the entire adult population cannot read.
2. How does that compare to the rest of the world?
On a global scale, illiteracy affects 774 million adults aged 15 or older. Among developed nations, the U.S. ranks 16th for adult reading skills.

3. How many adults only read at the lowest proficiency level?
Between 40 and 44 million adults, or roughly 20 to 23% of adults in the U.S., are limited to reading at the basic or below basic proficiency levels.

5. How many adults read at or below a fifth-grade level?
Reading material becomes more complex for students around the fifth grade, and some 30 million adults aren't able to comprehend texts that are appropriate for 10-year-olds.

6. How many adults aren't able to read above an eighth-grade level?
An estimated 63 million adults read between a sixth and eighth-grade level. Just 11% of men and 12% of women make the grade as proficient readers.

10. What percentage of high school graduates can't read?
Making it to graduation day is a major milestone for teens, but many of them struggle to decipher the words on their diploma. Just under 20% of high school grads haven't developed basic reading proficiency by the time they don their cap and gown.

11. Does living in a two-parent home improve literacy rates?
Single parent families are increasingly common these days, but children's literacy skills may be suffering. Research shows that kids who grow up with both parents at home score roughly 45 points higher on literacy reading assessments.

12. Can reading to children make a difference? Reading to kids early on can help to boost literacy rates over the long term. An estimated 77% of children who are read to are more likely to read or attempt to read on their own, versus 57% of kids who don't have regular story time at home.

19. Does illiteracy influence recidivism rates?
Inmates who take advantage of education programs in prison may be less likely to commit a subsequent crime once they're released. In one study, the recidivism rate for offenders who participated in literacy programs was 27%, but it jumped to 60% among those who received no additional education while incarcerated. 

20. How many welfare recipients aren't proficient readers?
Research has also linked illiteracy to poverty as an adult. As many as 75% of welfare recipients struggle to read even the simplest texts.
21. How does illiteracy impact the economy?
In terms of lost productivity, it's estimated that the portion of the population that can't read costs the nation a staggering $225 billion each year.


Illiteracy often takes a backseat to more pressing issues but based on the statistics we've uncovered, it's clear that it's no less important. Closing the education gap is easier said than done but if reading rates could be improved, the research suggests that the end result would be a win-win for the country as a whole.

Hmmmmm let me think....


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