U.S. lags most other countries in adult literacy skills

October 8, 2013 at 1:06 PM | Posted in Advocacy | Comments Off on U.S. lags most other countries in adult literacy skills

In the first-ever international survey of adult skills,when it comes to adult literacy the U.S. trailed 12 countries and only outperformed 5 other countries. 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.

In a recent Washington Post article by Lindsay Layton, which examines the survey, the results were cause for concern:  “These findings should concern us all,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a written statement. “They show our education system hasn’t done enough to help Americans compete — or position our country to lead — in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills.”

Duncan said the study highlights a group that has been “overlooked and underserved: the large number of adults with very low basic skills, most of whom are working.”

“Adults who have trouble reading, doing math, solving problems and using technology will find the doors of the 21st century workforce closed to them,” Duncan said. “We need to find ways to challenge and reach more adults to upgrade their skills.”

At present, LCNV serves around 1500 adult learners, with long waiting lists for many more adults seeking instruction. The mission of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia remains the same since it started 50  years ago:  to teach adults the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English in order to empower them to participate more fully and confidently in their communities.  The recent findings only underscore the unique position and importance of the service that LCNV provides adult learners in the region, the state, and the nation.

Download the full report and interactive tools.

Read The Washington Post article by Lindsay Layton discussing the findings.

Check out LCNV’s Literacy Means Business event, which examines the economic toil on society when a proportion of the adult population is illiterate or semi-literate.

Be proactive about the issue of adult literacy and consider donating or volunteering with LCNV.

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042


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