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Gender, Race, Socioeconomic Status (SES), and Adult Literacy: What Does the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) tell us May 21 - 29, 2007

The Poverty, Race, Women, and Literacy discussion list will hold the discussion "Gender, Race, SES and Adult Literacy: What does the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) tell us?" from May 21 through May 29. Our guest discussant will be Elizabeth Greenburg, principal research analyst from the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Key Points from NAAL 2003 related to Literacy, Gender, Race, and Socioeconomic Status (SES)

Gender

  • Between 1992 and 2003, women’s average document and quantitative
    literacy scores increased. During the same time period, men’s average
    document literacy score decreased and there was no statistically
    significant change in average quantitative literacy for men.
  • Between 1992 and 2003, women’s average prose literacy score
    stayed the same, while men’s average prose literacy score decreased.
  • In 2003, women had higher average prose and document literacy
    than men, and men had higher average quantitative literacy than women.
    In 1992, there was no statistically significant difference between men
    and women in their average prose literacy, but men had higher average
    document and quantitative literacy than women.

Race

  • Between 1992 and 2003, average prose, document, and quantitative
    literacy increased for Black adults.
  • Between 1992 and 2003, average prose and document literacy
    decreased for Hispanic adults. Average quantitative literacy did not
    change for Hispanic adults. The percentage of the adult population (age
    16 and older) that identified themselves as Hispanic increased from 8
    percent in 1992 to 12 percent in 2003.
  • Between 1992 and 2003, average prose literacy increased for
    Asian/Pacific Islander adults and there was no statistically significant
    change in average document and quantitative literacy for this group.
  • Between 1992 and 2003, there was no statistically significant
    change in average prose and document literacy for white adults, but
    there was an increase in quantitative literacy.

Socioeconomic Status (SES)

  • Among adults with Below Basic prose literacy, 26 percen
    t lived
    in households with average incomes of less than $10,000 and only 7
    percent lived in households with average incomes of $60,000 or greater.
    Among adults with Proficient prose literacy, 2 percent lived in
    households with average incomes of less than $10,000 and 65 percent
    lived in households with average incomes of $60,000 or greater.
  • Higher percentages of adults with higher literacy levels than
    adults with lower literacy levels were employed full-time, and lower
    percentages were out of the labor force. Sixty-four percent of adults
    with Proficient prose literacy were employed full-time, compared with 29
    percent of adults with Below Basic prose literacy. Eighteen percent of
    adults with Proficient prose literacy were not in the labor force,
    compared with 57 percent of adults with Below Basic prose literacy.
  • The occupational groups with the highest average prose,
    document, and quantitative literacy scores were Professional and related
    and Management, Business, and Financial. The occupational groups with
    the lowest average prose document and quantitative literacy scores were
    Service; Farming, Fishing, and Forestry; Transportation and Material
    Moving; Production; and Construction and Extraction.

Guest Bio

Elizabeth Greenberg, is a principal research analyst at the American
Institutes for Research (AIR), and is AIR's Project Director for the
2008 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) Special Studies
contract. She was also AIR's Deputy Project Director for the 2003 NAAL
Design, Analysis, and Reporting contract. In her role as Deputy Project
Director for the 2003 NAAL, she led the development of the NAAL
background questionnaire and assessment items. She is a lead author or
co-author of several reports based on the 2003 NAAL, including A First
Look at the Literacy of America's Adults in the 21st Century, The Health
Literacy of America's Adults, Literacy in Everyday Life, Literacy Behind
Bars, and the 2003 NAAL Public-Use Data File User's Guide. Elizabeth is
also an author or co-author of several reports and articles based upon
the 1992 adult literacy data, including English Literacy and Language
Minorities in the United States.

Resources for Discussion




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