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Prison Literacy

The NAAL prison component assesses the literacy skills and proficiencies of the U.S. adult prison population. In the 2003 assessment, approximately 1,200 adults participated, from 107 prisons (including 12 federal prisons) from 31 states.

Key Features

  • Provides demographic and performance data for the prison population, in comparison with the main NAAL household study of the general adult population.
  • Reports results that are useful to policymakers and practitioners concerned with literacy and education in correctional settings.
  • Guides corrections and education professionals, in the development of more effective literacy and adult education programs for prison inmates.

The principal aim of the 2003 NAAL prison component is that, by providing comprehensive information on the literacy and background of the U.S. adult prison population to policymakers and practitioners, the assessment's findings will enhance adult education in our nation's prisons and improve incarcerated adults' ability to function and achieve their goals in the general society, in the workplace, at home, and in the community–upon their release from prison.

View the Prison Component Fact Sheet.

PIAAC Prison Literacy: In 2014, the PIAAC National Supplement study administered a similar survey, assessing literacy, numeracy, and digital problem-solving skills in federal and state prisons to 1,300 inmates ages 16-74. Results will become available in 2016. For more information on the PIAAC Prison Study, please visit

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