One in Five Americans Is Illiterate: Surprising Infographic

Would you believe that 23 percent of Americans lack the basic reading skills beyond a fourth grade level? I didn’t either. Online Courses’ eye-opening infographic, based on a survey the U.S. Department of Education completed, illustrates the ways in which many adult Americans struggle with reading.

According to the infographic there are three types of literacy skills:

  • Prose: News stories, brochures, instructional materials, etc.
  • Document: Job applications, payroll forms, maps, drug/food labels
  • Quantitative: Balancing a checkbook, completing an order form

Those surveyed struggled with various literary tasks which incorporated all three types of literacy skills, including locating a meeting time on a form, locating an intersection on a street map, interpreting instructions from an appliance warranty, comparing two metaphors in a poem, and interpreting a brief phrase from a news article.

Some of the factors that contribute to illiteracy include learning difficulties, not being a native speaker, or not finishing high school. Illiterate adults suffer all kinds of consequences because of their inability to read, including trouble finding jobs and even health problems due to their struggles in reading prescription labels and health literature. Children of illiterate adults often struggle in school because they don’t have a pedagogical foundation at home.

Luckily, companies like Ooka Island are trying to solve this problem, as Andrew Cherwenka points out in his Huffington Post article. However, there’s much to be done and no company can end illiteracy in the United States single-handedly. There are a number of foundations and local library literacy programs you can check out if you’re interested in volunteering your time.

Check out the infographic below. Do you volunteer for a literacy program or for a literacy foundation? Please share in the comments below, or let us know if we can help tell your story or recruit

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volunteers by emailing cdoyle@technapex.com.

23% of America Is Illiterate

Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.

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About Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.