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Sunday, February 24, 2008

If you can read this, you can read at a high-school level

According to the badge that I’ve pasted into the right sidebar, this blog requires a high-school reading level. I was glad to see that it passed that test, even though only a small part of my audience actually consists of high-school students, and many of those are surely reading at the college level. But a large number of adults read at or below the high-school level, and everybody finds it easier to read pieces that are written at a lower reading level.

After I wrote that paragraph, I wondered what the statistics are. In particular, what is the reading level of the average American adult? It turns out to be surprisingly difficult to get a valid answer. There is plenty of material giving figures (though inconsistent ones) about the shockingly large number of American adults who read at the third-grade level or below, who are unable to read a poison label, etc. In particular, Jonathan Kozol provides a wealth of material about functional illiteracy and its connections with race and class.

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