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In response to a demand for estimates of the percentage of adults with low literacy in individual states and counties, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has produced estimates of the percentage of adults lacking Basic Prose Literacy Skills (BPLS) for all states and counties in the United States in 2003 and 1992. These estimates were developed using statistical models that related estimated percentages of adults lacking BPLS in counties sampled for the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) and the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) to county characteristics, such as levels of educational attainment and race/ethnicity distributions. Based on the results of these models, NCES derived BPLS literacy estimates for all states and counties in the United States and produced user-friendly tables to compare literacy estimates across states or counties and across years.

Users of the results need to be aware that the margins of error associated with these model-based estimates of adults lacking BPLS are large. However, they are considered the best predictions that can be made from the national survey data. In the absence of any other literacy assessment data available for individual states and counties, the estimates do provide a general picture of literacy for all states and counties. Lacking these estimates, census variables highly correlated with literacy, such as educational attainment and poverty, have generally been used as proxy indicators of state and county literacy levels. The estimates presented in this web site were developed using data from the actual assessments administered in the NAAL and NALS surveys. The estimates are thus predictions of how the adults in a state or county would have performed had they been administered the prose literacy assessment. Read more...