Issue Date: April 2, 2012
U.S. Literacy Rate
I was disappointed to read the letter to the editor stating that the CIA World Factbook finds the literacy rate to be 99% in the U.S. (C&EN, Feb. 13, page 6). Obviously, different people can generate facts as they wish.
Having worked with the nonprofit group ProLiteracy for several years, I see no reason to doubt their “basic facts about literacy,” a few of which are cited here and are somewhat different from the CIA view: In the U.S., 63 million adults—29% of the country’s adult population—over age 16 don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth-grade level. An additional 30 million—14% of the country’s adult population—can read only at a fifth-grade level or lower.
By Eldon H. Sund
Wichita Falls, Texas
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