Raise D.C. Report Underscores Need for Adult Literacy in the District

by Steve Lilienthal on February 4, 2013 · 0 comments

The Washington Post published a story,”First Report From Raise DC Contains Sobering Statistics On Youths,” in the February 4th Metro section (also available online here) about the new report from Raise D.C. that examines how the District’s young residents are performing in five key areas. One statistic stands out:

Only 41% of District third graders are reading at a level that is “proficient or above.” 

Separated by race, the level of third graders who are black and reading at a level of proficient or higher shrinks to just 33%.

That is a sobering statistic indeed, but certainly not news to those who have been working with adult learners in D.C. All too often, even graduates of D.C. high schools find themselves in need of an adult literacy program, as they struggle for years trying to hold jobs in a job market that increasingly requires skills beyond even basic literacy, including computer literacy.

Other areas measured by the report where the literacy level of adults are a factor include kindergarten readiness of children, high school graduation rates, and the ability of young D.C. residents under age 24 to obtain full-time employment, or to link up with job training or education opportunities if they have dropped out of school. (For more on the relationship between child/youth literacy and adult literacy, see this D.C. LEARNs report.)

Suffice to say, the statistics are not encouraging at this point in any area.

As welcome as the Raise D.C. Report is for highlighting important concerns within the city about the state of DC youth, (some of whom are in fact enrolled in adult education programs), it is important to remember that parents influence children more than anything that happens in the schools. Greater emphasis on adult literacy is important to help usher in more children who are ready, willing, and able to learn.

Steve Lilienthal

Steve Lilienthal is a member of the Board of Directors of D.C. LEARNs. A former Washington, D.C. Public Library employee, he has written for PR Week and The Rothenberg Political Report and served as a policy analyst at the Free Congress Foundation.

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