The Adult Literacy Crisis


  • Jennifer Dunwoody Independence University


adult illiteracy


Adult illiteracy issues affect nearly every aspect of the individual, their communities and the nation as a whole.  Adult literacy issues contribute to higher crime rates, increased poverty levels, higher health care costs, decreased revenue and increased teen pregnancy rates (The Crisis, 2013).  Although, the United States has one of the best education systems in the world the adult literacy rate has changed very little over the last two decades.  A 1992 survey from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy estimated that between 14 to 16 percent of adults 16 years and older had below basic prose and document literacy skills and 26 percent had a below basic quantitative literacy skill.  A 2003 survey by the same organization showed no change in prose literacy and only slight improvements in document and quantitative literacy with 12 and 22 percent respectively (Demographics, 2013).  Low adult literacy rates directly affect the nation’s health care costs by adding an estimated $230 billion annually.  Literacy problems also affect the nation’s workforce and businesses by costing American businesses more than $225 billion a year in non-productivity due to the inability to read and write in the workplace and there is also a substantial loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.  The technology of today, such as software as a service, cloud computing and adaptive learning technology can more efficiently help adult learners with literacy education by offering goal oriented lessons, and the ability to access lessons online making it much easier for them to find time to take literacy lessons.





Master's Thesis