In Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, I'll be writing about a new study that talks about the literacy of Philadelphia's workforce compared to the literacy needed for the majority of jobs in the city. Unfortunately, there's a big gap, although that's hardly a surprise in a city where about 50 percent of students drop out of high school. Of course, this is a huge problem for the workforce and for people looking for employment.
The study looks at three types of literacy -- prose, document and quantitative. Prose means the ability to read texts, including instructional manuals and yes, newspapers. Document literacy involves the ability to understand a bus schedule, a map or a job application. Quantitative means mathematical skills involved in balancing a checkbook, calculating a tip or performing simple computations.
You can click here to read the initial reports on the 2003 national survey that formed the bedrock for the Philadelphia study. You can click here for a page with all sorts of interesting links, including a link to sample questions. Let's see how smart YOU are! This final link provides an overview which also explains the various proficiency levels. That survey is the biggest and most recent national survey done of adult literacy.
The Philadelphia study takes literacy results from the 2003 survey which were bumped up against demographic info and does a what-if. What if, Philadelphia, with its demographic characteristics, had participated in the national survey? What would the results be? Pick up the paper on Sunday and get some details.