The 2003 NAAL produced the first national assessment of health literacy. 77 Million Adults Have Basic or Below Basic Health Literacy As shown in Figure 1, only 12 percent of U.S. adults had proficient health literacy. More than a third of adults were in the basic (47 million) and below basic (30 . Of adults with the lowest literacy levels, 43 percent live in poverty, and 70% of adult welfare recipients have low literacy levels. 2 There is a clear correlation between more education and higher earnings, and between higher educational scores and higher earnings.
The U.S. Department of Education collects and reports data adult literacy and numeracy skills. In 2006, they published the only national data on health literacy skills. These studies found that adults who self-report the worst health also have the most limited literacy, numeracy, and health literacy skills. What is NAAL? The NCES will conduct the National Assessments of Adult Literacy (NAAL) in 2002. It will assess the current status of the English-language literacy skills of adults in the U.S., as well as indicate how literacy proficiencies have changed over time.
Many adults want to improve their literacy skills so they can get a higher paying job. Acquiring stronger literacy skills can open up new careers and often leads to promotions at work. Sometimes motivation comes from children who are learning to read themselves.