Literacy Facts

According to the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Texas has a literacy rate of 28% at or below Level 1.  Texas spends $8,350 per student on average and ranks 43rd in Total Per Pupil Expenditures compared to a national average of $11,762 per student. It is also last in % of people 25 years and over who have completed high school or have a high school equivalency diploma.

Nearly half (41% – 44%) of all adults in the lowest level on each literacy scale live in poverty, compared with only 4% to 8 % of those in the two highest proficiency levels. Within a dozen years, the Texas labor force will need 60 percent of all 25 to 34 year-olds — almost 2 million — to hold industry-recognized certificates and college degrees. Today, only 34 percent of this group is so equipped, and technology will be replacing one-fifth of the low-skilled workers.

The number of people with no High School diploma will increase by 11.3%, and people with a bachelor’s degree will drop 5.3% from the years 2000 to 2040.

Middle skilled jobs represent 29% of all open positions in DFW. Many residents lack the basic academic and job readiness skills required to start a middle-skill career ladder.

Raising literacy proficiency would not only break cycles of poverty, but will have a tremendous impact in our economy.

Texas Ranking Against Other States

  • 43rd in Total Per Pupil Expenditures $8,350, compared to a national average of $11,762 per student.
  • 28th in Average Freshman Graduation Rates for Public Secondary Schools, 2008-2009.
  • Last in % of people 25 years and over who have completed high school or have a high school equivalency diploma.
  • 30th in % of people 25 years and over who have completed a bachelor’s degree (26.4%).
  • 41st in % of 18 to 24 year old’s enrolled in colleges and universities (39.6%).

Employment, Poverty and Crime

  • Adults in prison were far more likely than those in the population as a whole to perform in the lowest two literacy levels.
  • Individuals demonstrating higher levels of literacy were more likely to be employed, work more weeks in a year and earn higher wages than individuals demonstrating lower proficiencies.
  • Individuals in the lowest level reported median weekly earnings of about $230-$245 compared with about $350 for individuals performing on level 3 and $620 to $680 for those in level 5.

What’s Affecting Enrollment in Adult Education Programs?

Policymakers might have guessed that enrollments would increase along with recent improvements in adult education programs. But the opposite is true. Between 2010 and 2016, program enrollments for adults in the SREB region decreased by 28 percentage points. Higher graduation rates have recently reduced the percentage of students who may need high school equivalency  prep courses. Yet, 15 percent of adults younger than 25 do not have a high school credential and their presence in the workforce will be increasingly problematic as more- educated older adults retire. So, while a smaller number of young adults may need to enroll in these programs, a greater proportion of the workforce may be undereducated in the future when fewer low-skill jobs will be available.

Note that the number of adults in the state of Texas at or below literacy level 1 is 6,195 million people.

Within a dozen years, the Texas labor force will need 60 percent of all 25- to 34-year-olds — almost 2 million — to hold industry-recognized certificates and college degrees. Today, only 34 percent of this group is so equipped, and technology will be replacing one-fifth of the low-skilled workers.

Lagging education and skill levels have a negative impact even with innovations in technology and increased business investments. Whether it is correlation or causation, employment rates, higher earnings and overall well-being are associated with college education.

Effects on the Texan Economy

Middle-skill jobs are critical to the DFW economy.

  • There are 960,000 middle-skill jobs currently in the DFW region. These occupations represent 29% of all positions.
  • $24.47 is the average median hourly wage of middle-skill positions, 35% higher than the region’s living wage of $18.08.
  • 42,000 middle-skill job openings are projected every year through 2018.

Where new middle-skill workers will come from:

Many DFW residents lack the basic academic and job readiness skills required to start a middle-skill career ladder.

  • 950,000 adults, or 22% of the region’s population ages 25 and older do not have a high school credentials.
  • 640,000 or 14.7% of individuals in the DFW region ages 16-64 have limited English proficiency.

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