American Literacy Council

The Cost of Poor Reading Skills
Mr. Tom Zurinskas

In 2003, a sample of adults in the U.S. were given a reading proficiency test and only 13% were rated proficient (87% not proficient). Surprisingly, only 30% of adult collage graduates scored as proficient in literacy on the test.

The Biggest Cost is Education

High school dropouts cost the U.S. about $158 billion in lost earnings and $36 billion in lost state and federal income taxes for each class of 18-year-olds.

Reading Problems Lead to Dropouts

'Poor readers are six times more likely to drop out of school then typical readers, also they are three times more likely to consider or attempt suicide', according to a study by Stephanie Sergent Daniel.

The U.S. Congress Tries to Help

Unfortunately, the schools have not picked so well. While Reading First is not hurting, it is not helping students so much. Overall reading comprehension for the focused grades of 1,2,and 3 has not increased. The cost of federally funded and mandatedtutoring has doubeled in each of the last two years.


A lack of the ability to read can lead to high school dropouts, which creates a big cost. Nearly 80% of dropouts depend on goverment helth-care assistance.

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