More than 1.1 million (one third) of the state’s 3.2 million workers do not have the basic math, literacy, language and analytic skills required to perform in the state’s rapidly changing economy and need ABE services. (Source: MassINC, New Skills for a New Economy, 2001).
- 667,000 workers have a high school credential but still lack basic math, literacy, language and analytic skills to perform in the typical 21st century workplace.
- 280,000 are high school dropouts who lack necessary skills.
- 195,000 are immigrants with limited English speaking skills who need to learn to speak English.
- The State Assessment of Adult Literacy for Massachusetts released in Dec. 2005 by the National Center for Education reports that a significant number of adults in the state do not have sufficient literacy skills.
- 32% of adults were at Below Basic and Basic on the prose literacy scale (ability to read and comprehend a continuous text such as newspaper articles, editorials, brochures).
- 26% of adults were at Below Basic and Basic on the document literacy scale (ability to read and comprehend texts in various formats such as job applications, bus schedules, and drug and food labels).
- 46% of adults were at Below Basic and Basic on the quantitative literacy scale (ability to identify and perform computations using numbers embedded in printed material, such as balancing a checkbook, figuring out a tip or determining the amount of interest on a loan).
The above statistics were published by the Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education in 2008.
Connection Between Literacy & Learning Disabilities
Illiteracy is defined as a reading skill level lower than 6th grade. Statistics tell the story:
- one out of five children has LD
- 35% of school dropouts have LD.
- 60% of adolescents in drug treatment have LD.
- 60-80% of adult illiteracy is caused by LD. The 60-80% figure includes immigrant populations. If non-English speakers are removed, the percentage is almost 100%.
- 40-50% of welfare recipients have LD.
- 30-50% of inmates have LD. USDOE reports 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems.
- Informal statistics reported by local reading programs show statistics that range from 85 to 90% of participants with LD in the first two literacy levels(0-1.9) and (2-3.9). In the GED prep level the incidence estimated to be about 20%.
The above statistics were published by the National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center.
More Information About Literacy
- National Institute for Literacy : a huge website with statistics and downloadable publications on all literacy topics.
- Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners 
- Center for Development and Learning  : The Educators Library has many articles about best practices based on current research on reading and learning.
- ProLiteracy : a website that connects you to other literacy programs, publications and resources.