Literacy Facts

Texas Literacy Facts

  • Approximately 1 million Texas adults qualify for adult literacy and English language services (U. S. Census 2000 and NALS 1992). Only 75,000 (or less than 10%) of adults in need of services are currently receiving them.
  • 18.93 %, or 785,682, Texas adults, age 16 and older are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma.
  • 7.3%, or 368,712, residents over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home.
  • From 1990 to 2000, the Hispanic or Latino population in Texas more than doubled (107% increase) (U.S. Census 2000).
  • Texas has the worst graduation rate (50th out of 50 states) for African Americans (Center on Texas Strategy 2002).
  • 47% of adult females and adult males incarcerated in Texas lack either a high school diploma or its equivalent. 49% read below the ninth grade level.  74% perform math below the ninth grade level (Texas Department of Corrections 2006).
  • More than 13,000 basic skills and ESL learners are instructed annually by Texas Literacy member agencies in community, corrections, workplace, family and faith-based literacy settings. (Texas Literacy 2009)
  • More than 3,000 trained volunteer tutors provide individualized, goal-oriented adult literacy instruction per year at Texas Literacy member agencies throughout the state. (Texas literacy 2009)


National Literacy Facts

  • 42% of adults between the ages of 25 and 67 have, at most, a high school education (U.S. Census 2000).
  • 20% of preschool aged children live in poverty and are likely to be part of families where the parent with the highest education has less than a high school education (National Institute of Family Literacy).
  • 2/3 of all jobs, and the majority of jobs that pay wages sufficient to support a family, require skills associated with at least some education beyond high school (Carnevale & Derochers, 2003).
  • In 2004, high school graduates earned 38% more than those with less than a high school education.  The average annual earnings for full-time workers 25 or older without a high school diploma were $22,232, while those with a high school diploma made $30,640, those with some college made $35,970, those with an associate’s degree made $37,480 and those with a bachelor’s degree made $53,581.
  • The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) estimates that 30 million adults in the U.S. –14% of the country’s adult population – have only the most minimal ability to read and write in English.
  • 22.2% of the foreign-born population had less than a 9th grade education, compared to 4.7% of the native population (Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau 2000).
  • Americans spent $64.38 per taxpayer on video games in 2002.  The federal government spent $3.56 per taxpayer on adult basic education and literacy instruction in the same period.
  • 66% of high school graduates do not have the skills and qualifications necessary to attend college (Center for Civic Innovation at the Manhattan Institute, 2005).
  • 46% of prison inmates do not have a high school diploma (NCFL, 2002).
  • One in five adults – over 40 million Americans – has pressing literacy needs (NALS).
  • Almost 50% of adults on welfare do not have a high school diploma or GED (National Institute for Literacy).
  • 43% of people with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty, 17% receive food stamps, and 70% have no job or a part-time job (National Institute for Literacy).
  • American businesses are estimated to lose over $60 billion in productivity each year due to employees’ lack of basic skills (National Institute for Literacy).