Category Archives: Facts and Statistics for Adult Literacy

Adult English Literacy in the United States – NCES Data Point

Of the 43 million adults in the U.S. with low English literacy skills, two-thirds of them were born in the U.S.” — National Center for Education Statistics Data Point. (Download the full 2019 document at the above link.)

Infographic of the number of adults with low English literacy skills

U.S.-Born adults make up the largest percentage of those with low English literacy skills

The Data Point was written by AIR, using data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. It only considered literacy in the English language, not adults’ overall literacy.

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“More Unprepared Than We Thought: Adult educational attainment,” an SREB Fact Sheet

“Low-skilled workers are being left behind as technology shifts the workforce toward the middle-skills level. Educators and policymakers will need to reach these adults with education and training to fill plentiful, well-paying middle-skill jobs in their states. This [2018] fact sheet summarizes trends and state policy concerns.” – SREB (Southern Regional Education Board), November 2018

Regional Statistics for Virginia’s Adult Ed Regions

planning districtsFind data and statistics for each region in Virginia for

  • educational attainment
  • poverty and income
  • community profiles for the regions and their counties and cities

va foreign bornNEW!!! Just added to all regions is the Survey of Virginia Foreign Born population.

Click here to enter the page:


First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills: PIAAC 2013

Skills-(vol-1 ENG)--Front-cover-for-web-(130x174px)This first OECD Skills Outlook presents the initial results of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), which evaluates the skills of adults in 24 countries. It provides insights into the availability of some of the key skills and how they are used at work and at home. A major component is the direct assessment of key information-processing skills: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in the context of technology-rich environments. The summary starts on page 11 of this PDF document.


PIAAC (Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies)

piaacThe Survey of Adult Skills is an international survey conducted in 33 countries as part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). It measures the key cognitive and workplace skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper. The first results from the Survey were released on 8th October 2013.

The survey was done in 2011-12 with 5,000 adults from 16-65 in the U.S. and participating countries. Skills assessed were: literacy, numeraacy, and problem solving skills in technology-rich environments.

See more about PIAAC at this ProLiteracy link–survey-of-adult-skills

Adult Education Fact Sheet: A Good Investment

The National Coalition for Literacy, an advocacy group for adult education and literacy programs, has published a fact sheet outlining the economic benefits of adult education services. Click here for the PDF document. 


State and County Estimates of Low Literacy

This link will lead you to 2003 estimates of low literacy in adults 16 years and older in counties and cities in Virginia. The information is more recent than the Stephen Reder Synthetic Estimates, which were based on the 1990 census.

Overcoming the Crisis in Our Nation’s Workforce

DVD’s Available of the Report: Reach Higher America: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce

The National Commission on Adult Literacy’s recently published report, Reach Higher, AMERICA: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, calls for a dramatically revamped service system with the capacity to effectively serve 20 million adults annually by the year 2020. It also calls for resetting the educational mission of this new system to demonstrated readiness for postsecondary education and job training.

The panel presentation and Q&A are now available in 5 short DVD segments from the Commission’s website: Go to the Get Reports page and scroll to the bottom for the link. You will be able to view the segments on both PC and Mac platforms with current Flash or QuickTime players.

Note that the full DVD can also be purchased from CAAL for a nominal sum (contact for instructions and cost).

Workforce Report

The National Commission on Adult Literacy

published its final report, Reach Higher America: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, in June, 2008.

REACH HIGHER, AMERICA, the report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, was released at a public event in Washington, DC, on June 26. The report documents the adult education and skills crisis facing American workers, proposes a fundamentally new approach to adult basic education and workforce skills preparation in America, and lays out the fiscal and social benefits that will result from substantially increased public expenditures for programs and services. Focus is on the need of the unemployed, low-skilled incumbent workers, immigrants with limited or no English, parents or caregivers with low basic skills, incarcerated adults, high school dropouts, and high school graduates not adequately prepared for college.

Among other things, the Commission recommends transforming the current system, which reaches about 3 million adults annually, into an adult education and workforce skills system with the capacity to enroll 20 million adults by the year 2020 and a mission of moving adults to readiness for postsecondary education and job training. The report offers a kind of “domestic Marshall plan” for meeting workforce education needs-including bold recommendations for state government, business and labor, philanthropy, and the general public. A clear message of the report is that unless the nation gives much higher priority to the basic educational needs of the workforce-adults 16 and older beyond the reach of the schools-America’s standard of living, its status as a leading world power, and its very social fabric will be further eroded. This important report and various related materials are available in PDF from the Commission’s website.

Instructions are given there for purchase of hard copies.