Did You Know?

What does it mean to be functionally illiterate?

A person who is functionally illiterate might be able to read some words, but not enough to understand simple forms or instructions.

Imagine if you were unable to:

  • obtain your driver’s license
  • complete a job application
  • read a training manual at work
  • read a map to find where you are going
  • understand your child’s school permission slip
  • read ingredients on a food label so you could only rely on the picture
  • follow a doctor’s written instructions or read a prescription label
  • read a simple story to your children

What would you do?

For an adult is who is functionally illiterate, any one of these situations can be overwhelming.

Adult Literacy Statistics

The statistics are sobering:  The estimate for those lacking basic literacy skills for the state of Ohio is 9%.

The estimate for Hancock County is 8% or over 4,000 people.


The issue of adult illiteracy is not just a Hancock County or Ohio problem.  Across our nation, far too many adults struggle with reading.  42 million Americans cannot read, write or perform simple math.   According to current estimates, the number of functionally illiterate adults increases by approximately 2.25 million people each year.

  • Nationally, low literacy skills cost businesses and taxpayers $20 billion in lost wages, profits, and productivity each year.  (National Institute for Literacy, 2006)
  • U.S. business and industry leaders estimate spending an average of $600 million per year on remedial reading, writing, and math skills training for employees. (National Institute for Literacy, 2000)

Literacy Facts and Statistics

  • Over 4000 (8%) lack basic literacy skills in the Findlay/Hancock County Area.
  • 60% of prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have problems reading.
  • 88% of children who have difficulty reading at the end of the 1st grade display similar difficulties at the end of 4th grade.
  • 75% of students who are poor readers in the 3rd grade will remain poor readers in high school.
  • Children who have no developed  some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3-4 times more likely to drop out in the later years.
  • More than 75% of children who drop out of school report difficulties in reading.
  • Regular reading not only boosts the likelihood of an individual’s academic and economic success but it also seems to awaken a person’s social and civic awareness. Reading correlates with almost every measurement of positive personal and social behavior surveyed.
  • According to 2011 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment-Literacy (KRAL) testing, 13.4% (113 students) of Hancock County students entering Kindergarten require intensive literacy intervention.  In the county schools 38.86% require targeted literacy intervention.

Click to download supporting documents:

 Basic Skills and Poverty

Video about the effect of poverty on the level of basic skills: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOTVvns7xIM&feature=youtu.be

Statistics adapted from the above video from  the Center for Community Solutions by Emily Campbell:

  • A growing body of research shows that  parents pass on their advantages and disadvantages to their children.
  • Root causes of poverty are: low skills, economic mobility, poor health, money challenges, vulnerable children, hunger, education challenges, and lack of monetary savings.
  • Dayton, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are at bottom 10 for economic mobility of 50 major metropolitan areas in the U.S.
  • A recent study shows that a person born in the bottom 37% of earners in Dayton, Cleveland or Cincinnati stands only a 5% chance of moving to the top fifth of earners.

o   This is due to low skills including problems with literacy, numeracy, and computer skills.

  • An Ohio study in 2003 on Literacy and Numeracy shows that:

o   9% of Ohioans lacked basic prose literacy skills or 1 in 11 lacked basic literacy skills

  • Almost all of these adults can read a little but they lack the ability to read a food label or prescription label, cannot complete a job application or medical history, or read a simple book to their children.
  • 870,000 adults over age 25 lack a high school credential or 1 out every 9 adults do not have a high school diploma.

o    This is enough people to fill the OSU Horseshoe, Paul Brown Stadium, Nationwide Arena, First Energy Field, Progressive Field, the Great American Ballpark and The Cue at the SAME TIME—- TWICE!

o   That means that 87% of the job opening posted on the www.Ohiomeansjobs.com   website would be closed to people without high school credentials.

  • Research shows that people with better literacy, numeracy and computer skills are economically active, employed and earn higher wages.
  • As education decreases, poverty increases.
  • Parents who struggle to read are not likely to read to their children or teach them about numbers.
  • The children from wealthier families know 4 times more words than children from poor families.
  • Since third grade proficiency in reading is an indicator for high school graduation, and a high school degree is important for economic self-sufficiency, poor basic skills can cause poverty to pass from generation to generation.
  • Children do not spend the bulk of their time in the classroom.  Rather only 14% of their time is  in the classroom while 53% of their time is spent in the home and community and the remaining time, 33%, is spent sleeping.

o   Solutions must start at home.

  • Investments in raising the literacy, numeracy, and computer proficiency of adults can pay dividends not only for that person but also for the next generation.