The UN warns that illiteracy is a global problem but Americans may not have to look that far to find it. “Far too many young people emerge from primary school unable to read or write,” UNESCO warns. “In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, young adults with five years of primary schooling have a 40% chance of being illiterate.”
The U. S. could catch up in this race to the bottom. “The skills and knowledge that college instructors expect entering students to have are more focused and specific than what high school teachers view as important,” the ACT found. “The results also suggest that high school reading instruction needs to be improved, that content-area knowledge remains more important than ‘21st century student outcomes’ and that students headed more immediately to the workforce may not be receiving instruction to the same level as their college-bound peers, even though teachers agree that the knowledge and skills they need to master are fundamentally the same.”
The ‘21st century student outcomes’ ACT refers to include media and financial literacy. Whatever happened to plain old literacy?
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia .