Literacy: The Problem Back
children who struggle with reading, spelling, and writing do NOT
get the right type of help in school. So they grow into adults who
don’t read well.
right type of reading instruction, most adults with dyslexia –
no matter how smart they are – can’t read or write
above the third-grade level.
In the United
States, that is considered functionally illiterate. At the third-grade
level, they don’t read well enough to fill out a job application,
read a memo from their boss, pass the drivers license test, write
a note to their child’s teacher, or read their child a bedtime
options – and earning power – are limited, their success
in college is rare, and they drop out of high school at a much
higher rate than the national average.
To see some
shocking statistics, click here.
good news is that it is NEVER too late to improve the reading,
spelling, and writing skills of adults with dyslexia.
of organizations provide FREE tutoring to adults who read, write,
or spell below an eight-grade level:
or Family Literacy Programs – based in public libraries
or Family Literacy Programs – through churches or synagogues
Both of these
programs use volunteer tutors. In fact, Susan Barton started as
a volunteer tutor in a library-based Adult Literacy Program.
the Barton Reading & Spelling System with volunteer tutors
in mind. To be effective with adults who have dyslexia, volunteer
tutors need an Orton-Gillingham-based program that provides good
and consistent training along with scripted lesson plans. So that’s
what Susan Barton created. Nothing in the Barton System will offend
an adult student.
Literacy Programs have discovered that the Barton Reading &
Spelling System is an ideal way to quickly train volunteer tutors
to work with adults who have, or may have, dyslexia – which
is the most common learning disability.
If you are
an Adult Literacy Coordinator and don’t know how to tell
which of your adult students may have dyslexia, ask the students
how many of the warning
signs of dyslexia they remember from childhood. Or ask them
during an information interview.
adult students have many of those warning signs, the Barton
a great way to improve their reading, writing, and spelling.
And our tutor training DVDs provide an easy and consistent
train volunteer tutors. Plus we offer free unlimited support
to every tutor using the Barton System.
Adult Literacy Program Coordinators & Tutors Say Back
marvel each day at the common-sense way this whole system
is put together, and how easy it is to use.
Read To Live, Walnut Creek, CA
highly recommend the Barton Reading & Spelling System for
library-based literacy programs. This system answers the need
for accessible, expert guidance for volunteers teaching adults
(and children) with reading disabilities.
is easy for volunteer tutors to use because the lessons are fully
scripted. Both volunteer tutors and learners feel successful using
the Barton System.
is the system that adult literacy programs have been waiting for.
Learning Disabilities Coordinator, Project READ, Redwood City,
and founder, Learning Disability Program,
now trained 50 inmates to act as tutors within the New Jersey
State Prison using your DVDs. The training was so successful.
It was an "aha" experience, a real eye opener. They
immediately recognized what was missing in their tutoring
Young, Coordinator of ABC Prison Literacy
gone through both the Barton and the Wilson system. I have found
many benefits to yours over Wilson.
system incorporates a multisensory approach to sight words. Wilson
does not have that.
has a fluency and phrasing part in each lesson that Wilson does
learn how to construct sentences as well as write dictated sentences.
scope and sequence goes to a higher level.
the Wilson System is strong, yours is much stronger.
O'Donnell, Kintnersville, PA
"Adult Literacy in America" study initiated by Congress
in 1988 and reported upon in 1993 was a $14 million 5-year study
by the National Assessment Governing Board in conjunction with
the National Center for Educational Statistics based upon lengthy
interviews with 26,000 adults from 16 to 65 years old in a dozen
in 1993 that 92 million Americans – over 47 % of
adults read and write so poorly that it is difficult for them
to hold a decent job.
To read this study, go to
For a summary page of stats, go to
School Graduation Rate
1997-98, only 30.5% of students with specific learning disabilities
graduated with a standard diploma. (U.S. Department of Education,
pIV-17, Table IV-4)
to the NIH, 80% of student with a specific learning disability
actually have dyslexia.
of data from the National Adult Literacy Survey, 1992, found the
following for adults with self-reported learning disabilities,
school dropout rates were:
women with self-reported learning disabilities, compared to
16.5% of women without self-reported learning disabilities;
men with self-reported learning disabilities, compared to 15.3%
of men without self-reported learning disabilities. (Vogel,
p55, Figure 3.6)
consequences of low literacy skills:
- 43% of
adults at the lowest level of literacy proficiency live in poverty.
adults with strong literacy skills, only 4% live in poverty.
with the lowest literacy skills earn a median income of $240
per week, compared to $681 for those with the highest skills.
- In 1997,
the poverty rate among children under age 6 whose best-educated
than a high school degree was 62.5%;
a high school degree was 29.2%;
some college was 15.2%; and
a college degree was 2.8%.
- 70% of
mothers on welfare have reading skills in the lowest two proficiency
is particularly alarming considering that a mother's literacy
level is one of the most significant predictors of a child's
future literacy ability.
1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), the average annual
household income for the total population was $30,824, compared
to $10,138 for Aid to Families with Dependent Children or public
assistance recipients, and $9,732 for food stamp recipients.
at the lowest level of literacy proficiency work an average
of 19 weeks per year, compared to 44 weeks per year for those
at the highest level.
businesses lose over $60 billion in productivity each year
due to employees' lack of basic reading skills.
- In America's
prisons, 70% are illiterate.
prisons are full of poorly educated men and women who come from
deteriorating urban neighborhoods with failing public school
three-fourths of those incarcerated have not graduated from
high school and a staggering 70 percent are functionally illiterate
and read below a fourth grade level.
in American prisons have a four times greater percentage of
learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, than the general
Department of Education figures show that “75%
of prison inmates and 85% of juveniles in correctional facilities
are functionally illiterate.”
compares to 47% of all adults in the U.S. who are functionally
is a prison within a prison.
on the Corrections Educational System:
has similar problems:
talking about illiteracy, we must also talk about poverty and
unemployment. People with literacy problems in Canada have two-thirds
the income of other Canadians, are twice as likely to be unemployed,
and many times more likely to receive some form of social assistance.
Jobs available to lower-literacy adults tend to be the lowest-paid,
and the most insecure.”
NAPO Facts, October, 1992
does literacy in the US compare with other countries?
International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), a 1997 survey similar
in design to the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), compared
the literacy skills of adults in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany,
Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland,
and the United Kingdom.
showed that the US has more adults in Levels 1 and 2 than any
of the other countries except Poland.
For a more
detailed report on the IALS, go to
sites on Adult and Family Literacy:
Coalition for Literacy