by Hans J.A. Dekkers
The 2003 NAAL reported significantly different ( = lower) literacy performance by prison inmates as compared to average free Americans.
In 1995, Daniel Karpowitz and Max Kenner reported in their research paper "Education as Crime Prevention" that inside our (USA) prisons, 19% percent of adult inmates are illiterate, and up to 60% are functionally illiterate. In contrast to this, our national adult illiteracy rate stands at 4%, with upto 23% functionally illiterate. Source: http://goo.gl/JPhFp. Karpowitz and Kenner based themselves on the previous extensive USA nationwide literacy research, namely the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey. The actual figures between the 1992 and 2003 did not change dramatically, but Karpowitz and Kenner expressed the findings in more accessible terms.
The 2003 NAAL findings in more detail
The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) assessed the English literacy of incarcerated adults for the first time since 1992. The assessment was administered to approximately 1,200 inmates (ages 16 and older) in state and federal prisons, as well as to approximately 18,000 adults (ages 16 and older) living in households. The prison sample is representative of the 1,380,000 adults in prison and the household sample is representative of the 221,020,000 adults in households in 2003.
This data is of significance to illustrate the need for literacy, or - expressed as a negative - the profound dangers and cost of failing to making appropriate learn to read education and remediation available to students at a young age.
The 2003 NAAL (page 4) choose to express literacy in four levels:
The NAAL Figure 3-1 (2003 NAAL page 29)shows the results among prison inmates and the average USA household population. The average prison inmate demonstrated BASIC skills in handling prose texts, documents, and quantitative information. The average free American demonstrated INTERMEDIATE skills in handling prose texts and documents, and top level BASIC skills in quantitative information handling.
Across the board (prose, document, and quantitative literacy), the NAAL reported significantly different literacy performance between prison inmates and average free Americans.
Source: 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Download the full report.
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