prison population tends to be quite different demographically than the general adult population. For example, the prison population was mostly males (94 percent), 80 percent were below the age of 40, they were less White (35 percent), more Black (44 percent) and Hispanic (17 percent), and less well educated (49 percent with less than a high school education).
The prison population scored lower on literacy than the general adult population. The average scale scores for the three literacy scales were: prose-246 (272 for the general adult population), document-quantitative-236240 (267 general adult population), and quantitative-236 (271 general adult population ). In terms of the NALS literacy levels, looking across the three literacy scales, some 31 to 40 percent of inmates were in Level 1, 32- 38 percent in Level 2, 22-26 percent Level 3, 4-6 percent Level 4, and less than 0.5 to 1 percent in Level 5.
Poverty, Income, Occupational Status, and
The NALS confirmed other studies going back over the decades in showing that the less literate are more likely to be found in poverty, on welfare, unemployed or employed in poorly paying jobs, and in the lower status jobs that require less education (see page 135 of this report) .
The intergenerational effects of parent's education level on the adult's literacy level was also replicated in the NALS . Adults whose parents had completed a four year college degree were nine times more likely to have completed a college degree themselves than were adults whose parents had 0-8 years of education (46 percent versus 5 percent). Thirty-two percent of adults whose parents had completed 0-8 years of education had themselves completed only 0-8 years of education, whereas only 5 percent of adults whose parents had completed high school reported that they themselves had completed only 08 years of education. Some caution in interpreting these data is called for because the NALS included some 16 to 18 year olds who were still in school. See pages 127-131 of this document for more on the intergenerational transfer of literacy.
Douglas Bernstein, E. Roy, T. Srull, & C. Wickens (1988). Psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Irwin Kirsch, A. Jungeblut, L. Jenkins, & A. Kolstad (1993, September). Adult Literacy in America: A First Look at the Results of the National Adult Literacy Survey. Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office.
National Education Goals Panel (1992). The National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners. Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office.
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