DefinitionThe percentage of adults lacking basic prose literacy skills.
NumeratorThe estimated number of adults (age 16 and older) lacking basic prose literacy skills.
DenominatorThe estimated number of adults (age 16 and older) in the population.
Data Interpretation IssuesFrom the National Center for Adult Literacy (NAAL) website: http://nces.ed.gov/naal/.
"The 2003 NAAL included interviews of more than 18,500 adults (age 16 and older) who resided in private households across the country."
"The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has produced estimates of the percentage of adults lacking Basic Prose Literacy Skills (BPLS) for all states and counties in the United States in 2003 and 1992. These estimates were developed using statistical models that related estimated percentages of adults lacking BPLS in counties sampled for the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) and the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) to county characteristics, such as levels of educational attainment and race/ethnicity distributions."
Why Is This Important?Adults need strong literacy skills to get good jobs, stay healthy, be active in their communities, avoid human rights abuse, avoid crime, and to raise children who have strong literacy skills. The employees most in demand in the U.S. have at least a two-year college degree. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report (2003), 75 percent of America's state prison inmates did not complete high school. Literacy begins when parents read to their children and encourage their children to read. Parents who are poor readers don't read as often to their children. When young children are not read to, they enter school less prepared for learning to read than other children. (1)
How Are We Doing?16% of New Mexico adults (age 16+) lacked basic prose literacy skills. Applied to the 2010 population, this represents an estimated 249,000 New Mexicans. The estimated percentage of adults lacking basic prose literacy skills in New Mexico decreased one percentage point, from 17% in 1992 to 16% in 2003. The difference is not statistically significant.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?Data from the most recent survey (2003), report the percentage of adults lacking basic prose literacy skills at 14.5% in the U.S., compared with 16% in New Mexico.