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|Posted Monday, March 19, 2007
|Study finds one-third in D.C. illiterate
WASHINGTON, Mar. 19, 2007 - About one-third of the people living in the national's
capital are functionally illiterate, compared with about one-fifth nationally, according
to a report on the District of Columbia.
Adults are considered functionally illiterate if they have trouble doing such things as
comprehending bus schedules, reading maps and filling out job applications.
The study by the State Education Agency, a quasi-governmental office created by the
U.S. Department of Education to distribute federal funds for literacy services, was
ordered by Mayor Anthony A. Williams in 2003 as part of his four-year, $4 million adult
The growing number of Hispanic and Ethiopian immigrants who aren't proficient in
English contributed to the city's high functional illiteracy level, which translated to
170,000 people, said Connie Spinner, director of the State Education Agency. The report
says the district's functional illiteracy rate is 36 percent and the nation's 21 percent.
Adults age 65 and older had the lowest literacy score of any group, the report found.
The District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce, which contributed to the report, said the
city lost up to $107 million in taxes annually between 2000 and 2005 because of a lack of
qualified job applicants.
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