Education Statistics

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An extensive study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows why it is so important that children acquire good reading skills by the end of third grade. Click here to read more. 

Here is some additional information compiled by The Literacy Company website:

Education Statistics

  • Five to six year olds have a vocabulary of 2,500-5,000 words.
    • Reference: Beck & Mckeown, 1991
  • 33% of children in California will not finish high school.
  • Reference: California Department of Education
  • Disadvantaged students in the first grade have a vocabulary that is approximately half that of an advantaged student (2,900 and 5,800 respectively).
  • Reference: Graves, 1986 / White, Graves & Slater, 1990
  • The average student learns about 3,000 words per year in the early school years (8 words per day).
  • Reference: Baumann & Kameenui, 1991 / Beck & McKeown, 1991 / Graves, 1986
  • 14% of all individuals have a learning disability.
    • Reference: Learning Disabilities Association
  • 54 percent of all teachers have limited English proficient (LEP) students in their classrooms, yet only one-fifth of teachers feel very prepared to serve them.
    • Reference: Richard Riley - Former Secretary of Education
  • The educational careers of 25 to 40 percent of American children are imperiled because they don't read well enough, quickly enough, or easily enough.
    • Reference: Committee on Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children of the National Research Council, 1998
  • It is estimated that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems.
    • Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. In the same period, more than 6 million Americans dropped out of high school altogether.
    • Reference: A Nation Still at Risk, U.S. Department of Education, 1999

Literacy Statistics

  • Over 50% of NASA employees are dyslexic. They are deliberately sought after because they have superb problem-solving skills and excellent 3D and spatial awareness.
    • Reference: Mary-Margaret Scholtens, director of the Alternative Programs Providing Learning Experiences (APPLE) Group, Copyright 2005, Jonesboro Sun
  • Over one million children drop out of school each year, costing the nation over $240 billion in lost earnings, forgone tax revenues, and expenditures for social services.
    • Reference: McQuillan, 1998
  • It is estimated that the cost of illiteracy to business and the taxpayer is $20 billion per year.
    • Reference: United Way, "Illiteracy: A National Crisis"
  • More than three out of four of those on welfare, 85% of unwed mothers and 68% of those arrested are illiterate. About three in five of America's prison inmates are illiterate.
    • Reference: Washington Literacy Council
  • Approximately 50 percent of the nation's unemployed youth age 16-21 are functionally illiterate, with virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs.
    • Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • 44 million adults in the U.S. can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child.
    • Reference: National Adult Literacy Survey (1992) NCED, U.S. Department of Education
  • 60 percent of America's prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.
    • Reference: U.S. Department of Education
  • Dyslexia affects one out of every five children - ten million in America alone.
    • Reference: Sally Shaywitz, M.D., 2004
  • U.S. adults ranked 12th among 20 high-income countries in composite (document, prose, and quantitative) literacy.
    • Reference: According to a separate report released by the Educational Testing Service.
  • More than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level - far below the level needed to earn a living wage.
    • Reference: National Institute for Literacy, Fast Facts on Literacy, 2001
  • Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 - 4 times more likely to drop out in later years.
    • Reference: National Adult Literacy Survey, (1002) NCES, U.S. Department of Education
  • Nearly half of America's adults are poor readers, or "functionally illiterate." They can't carry out simple tasks like balancing checkbooks, reading drug labels or writing essays for a job.
    • Reference: National Adult Literacy Survey of 1993
  • 21 million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate, and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas.
    • Reference: Department of Justice, 1993
  • To participate fully in society and the workplace in 2020, citizens will need powerful literacy abilities that until now have been achieved by only a small percentage of the population.
    • Reference: National Council on Teachers of English Standards for the English Language Arts

Reading Statistics

  • 15 percent of the population has specific reading disorders. Of these 15 percent as many as 1/3 may show change in the brain structure.
    • Reference: Albert M. Galaburda, M.D., Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
  • It is estimated that as many as 15 percent of American students may be dyslexic.
    • Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • There are almost half a million words in our English Language - the largest language on earth, incidentally - but a third of all our writing is made up of only twenty-two words.
    • Reference: Paul Kropp "The Reading Solution"
  • 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine.
    • Reference: Journal of American Medical Association
  • In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.
    • Reference: Adams, 2002
  • 56 percent of young people say they read more than 10 books a year, with middle school students reading the most. Some 70 percent of middle school students read more than 10 books a year, compared with only 49 percent of high school students.
    • Reference: National Education Association press statement, March 2, 2001
  • 15% of all 4th graders read no faster than 74 words per minute, a pace at which it would be difficult to keep track of ideas as they are developing within the sentence and across the page.
    • Reference: Pinnell, et. al. 1995
  • Forty-four percent of American 4th-grade students cannot read fluently, even when they read grade-level stories aloud under supportive testing conditions.
    • Reference: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Pinnell et al., 1995
  • 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth-grade level book.
    • Reference: Jonathan Kozol, Illiterate America
  • Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.
    • Reference: Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988
  • The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time they spend reading actually rereading words.
    • Reference: No reference information is available for this statistic.
  • Students who reported having all four types of reading materials (books, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias) in their home scored, on average, higher than those who reported having fewer reading materials.
    • Reference: The Nation's Report Card: Fourth-Grade Reading 2000, April 2001, The National Center for Education Statistics
  • Good readers in 5th grade may read 10 times as many words as poor readers over a school year.
    • Reference: Nagy and Anderson, 1984
  • In 1999, only 53 percent of children aged 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read aloud to every day than are children in families with incomes at or above the poverty line.
    • Reference: The National Center for Education Statistics, NCES Fast Facts, Family Reading
  • According to the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 37 percent of fourth graders and 26 percent of eighth graders cannot read at the basic level; and on the 2002 NAEP 26 percent of twelfth graders cannot read at the basic level. That is, when reading grade-appropriate text these students cannot extract the general meaning or make obvious connections between the text and their own experiences or make simple inferences from the text. In other words, they cannot understand what they have read.
    • Reference: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
  • When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade.
    • Reference: Arizona Republic (9-15-2004) Advertisement by SheaHomes Inc. www.sheahomes.com
  • First-grade children with good word recognition skills were exposed to almost twice as many words in their basal readers as were children who had poor word recognition skills.
    • Reference: Juel, 1988