About Literacy

  • According to Susan B. Neuman at the Center for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement at the University of Michigan, “Access to books and educational material is the single biggest barrier to literacy development in the United States and beyond. If we can solve the problem of access, we will be well on the road to realizing educational parity—a goal which has eluded the country for generations.”
  • Over 31 million children are from low-income families, with many living at the poverty level.
  • Research indicates that children living in middle-income communities, on average, own 13 books.
  • More than half of the children living in low-income communities do not have any books in their homes. In fact, in areas of poverty, the ratio of books to children is one book per every 300 children.
  • According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
  • According to the Alliance for Excellence in Education, November 20011 Issue Brief, students lacking a high school diploma are “far more likely to spend their lives periodically unemployed, on government assistance, or cycling in and out of the prison system.” 
  • A student with a high school diploma will earn an average of $8000 more per year than a student who doesn’t complete high school according to the US Department of Education. (Alliance for Excellence in Education, 2011)
  • Students who earn a bachelor's degree earn roughly $28,000 more each year than someone without a high school diploma.
  • If the nation’s secondary schools improved sufficiently to graduate all of their students, rather than the 72 percent of students who currently graduate annually, the payoff would be significant. For instance, if the students who dropped out of the Class of 2011 had graduated, the nation’s economy would likely benefit from nearly $154 billion in additional income over the course of their lifetimes. (Alliance for Excellence in Education, 2011)
  • The unemployment rate for individuals of all education levels has skyrocketed since December 2007, but high school dropouts have faced the most difficulty with finding a job. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for high school dropouts in August 2011—four years after the start of the recession—was 14.3 percent, compared with 9.6 percent for high school graduates, 8.2 percent for individuals with some college credits or an associate’s degree, and 4.3 percent for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher. (Alliance for Excellence in Education, 2011)
  • Additionally, The Consequences of Dropping out of High School, 2009 reports that males who drop out of high school are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers who graduate from high school.
  • Finally, according to the National Academy on an Aging Society, 73 billion dollars is the estimated annual cost of low literacy skills in the form of longer hospital stays, emergency room visits, more doctor visits, and increased medication. 

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