Skip to main content

Adolescent Literacy: Bridging the College- and Career-Readiness Gap


Many of the more than 700,000 students who leave U.S. high schools each year without a diploma have low literacy skills.  More than 60 percent of eighth graders and 60 percent of twelfth graders scored below the “proficient” level in reading achievement according to the most recent administrations of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card. Even more disturbing, NAEP results reveal that almost half of students of color and students from low-income families enter fifth grade with skills below the basic level on NAEP. These outcomes mean that millions of young people lack the rudimentary reading skills to locate relevant information or make simple inferences. Without essential literacy skills, students are more likely to be retained in school, drop out of high school, become teen parents, or enter the juvenile justice system. The consequences for the individuals and the costs to the nation are staggering in terms of the billions of dollars in wages and earnings lost over a lifetime.