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Adult Literacy in California:
Results of the State Adult Literacy Survey, Selected Tables

This page will display data from, derived from or relating to the State and/or National Adult Literacy Survey conducted in 1992. The survey was a large-scale study sponsored by the U. S. Department of Education involving twelve states, including California, and funded primarily through State and Federal resources provided via the National Literacy Act of 1991. The survey characterized adults' literacy skills in English based on their performance on diverse tasks. The tasks were designed to reflect the types of materials and demands adults encounter in their daily lives. Based on their responses to the survey tasks, adults recieved proficiency scores along three scales, each ranging from 0 to 500. The score points along these scales reflect varying degrees of skill in prose, document, and quantitative literacy. To provide a way to examine the distribution of low to high performance within various subpopulations of interest, five levels of proficiency were defined along each scale: Level 1 (0 to 225); Level 2 (226 to 275); Level 3 (276 to 325); Level 4 (326 to 375); and, Level 5 (376 to 500).

A full report comprehensively detailing the findings of this study, [Adult Literacy in California: Result of the State Adult Literacy Survey, Jenkins and Kirsch (May 1994), ETS], (SALS) is currently available from OTAN. The findings include comparisons with adults in the Western Region and the nation, and explores connections between literacy and an array of demographic and reseach variables.

Incidence of Low Literacy in California

TABLE 1. Rank Order Distribution (by Level 1 incidence) of Synthetic Estimates of Low Literacy (Level 1 & Level 1 & 2 combined) by Congressional District*.

Congressional
District #(s)
City(s) Name of Congressional Representative Mean Literacy
Level
% of Population
at Level 1
% of Population
at Level 1 & 2
10 Walnut Creek Bill Baker 298 12% 29%
15 San Jose Norman Y. Mineta 294 12% 30%
6 Petaluma Lynn C. Woolsey 293 14% 31%
47 Newport Beach Christopher Cox 292 14% 32%
24 & (36) Thousand Oaks & (L.A.) Anthony C. Bellenson & (Jane Harman) 288 15% 34%
4 Roseville John Doolittle 288 15% 36%
49 San Diego Brian Bilbray 287 15% 38%
14 Palo Alto Anna G. Eshoo 291 16% 32%
51 Escondido Randy "Duke" Cunningham 288 16% 33%
45 Huntington Beach Dana Rohrabacher 282 16% 37%
48 Vista Ron Packard 282 17% 38%
25 Santa Clarita Howard P. "Buck" McKeon 280 17% 40%
29 L.A. Henry A. Waxman 284 18% 38%
12 San Mateo Tom Lantos 282 18% 39%
39 Fullerton Ed Royce 278 19% 39%
28 Covina David Dreier 277 19% 41%
13 Hayward Pete Stark 273 19% 44%
3 Woodland Vic Fazio 278 20% 42%
2 Chico Wally Herger 279 20% 43%
1 & (52) Ukiah & (El Cajon) Frank Riggs & (Duncan L. Hunter) 278 & (274) 20% 44%
22 Santa Barbara Andrea Seastrand 275 21% 41%
7 Pleasant Hill George Miller 271 22% 46%
40 Redlands Jerry Lewis 273 22% 48%
23 Oxnard Elton Gallegly 271 23% 43%
5 & (43) Sacramento & (Riverside) Robert T. Matsui & (Ken Calvert) 273 & (271) 23% 45%
19 Fresno George Radanovich 270 23% 47%
Nationwide 267 23% 51%
41 Onterio Jay Kim 267 24% 46%
27 & (38) Glendale & (Lakewood) Carlos J. Moorhead & (Steve Horn) 287 & (267) 24% 48%
21 Bakersfield William M. Thomas 267 24% 49%
Statewide 263 26% 51%
17 Salinas Sam Farr 265 27% 47%
11 Stockton Richard W. Pombo 261 27% 52%
9 & (42) Oakland & (Colton) Ronald V. Dellums & (George E. Brown) 264 & (281) 28% 51%
8 San Francisco Nancy Pelosi 251 29% 51%
44 Moreno Valley Sonny Bono 257 29% 55%
16 San Jose Zoe Lofgren 256 30% 54%
18 Modesto Gary A. Condit 255 30% 55%
50 Chula Vista Bob Filner 244 36% 63%
34 Pico Rivera Esteban Edward Torres 244 38% 60%
32 L.A. Julian C. Dixon 238 40% 67%
26 Northwest L.A. Howard L. Berman 233 40% 68%
46 Garden Grove Robert K. Dornan 228 41% 67%
31 Alhambra Mathew G. Martinez 227 44% 69%
20 Hanford Calvin Dooley 221 49% 75%
37 Compton Walter R. Tucker III 216 50% 78%
35 L.A. Maxine Waters 214 50% 80%
30 L.A. Xavier Becerra 213 51% 76%
33 L.A. Lucille Roybal-Allard 188 64% 88%

*U.S.Dept. of Education, PROGRAM MEMORANDUM FY 96-13, 1996. Prepared by Stephen Reder of Portland State University.


TABLE 2a. Estimated Number of Adults In California Functioning at the Five Levels of Literacy--Prose, Document and Quantitative.

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Type of Literacy

225 or lower

226 to 275

276 to 325

326 to 375

376 or higher

Prose

5,476,320

5,248,140

6,845,400

4,335,420

912,720

Document

5,932,680

5,704,500

6,845,400

3,879,060

684,540

Quantitative

5,476,320

5,019,960

6,845,400

4,335,420

1,140,900

Averages

5,628,440

5,324,200

6,845,400

4,183,300

912,720


TABLE 2b. Average Literacy Level by Educational Attainment as Measured by SALS

Level of Education Attained

Prose Literacy
Average Score

Document Literacy
Average Score

Quantitative Literacy
Average Score

0 to 8

152

145

148

9 to 12

225

219

225

High School Diploma

264

257

262

GED

263

259

261

Some Post Secondary

297

292

297

4 year College Degree

331

322

331


TABLE 2c. Average Annual Earnings by Literacy Proficiency Level as Measured by SALS

Proficiency Level Prose Literacy Document Literacy Quantitative Literacy
Level 1 225 & lower $18,000 $18,050 $17,390
Level 2 225 to 275 $29,380 $30,160 $28,980
Level 3 276 to 325 $39,390 $40,410 $39,970
Level 4 326 to 375 $53,590 $51,610 $52,590
Level 5 376 & higher $66,990 $64,040 $64,580

*NOTE: In 1992, the median Household Income in California was $41,924, for male workers in California it was $24,987, and for female workers in California it was $16,991. See TABLE 4 below for further earnings breakouts.


TABLE 3. Mean Annual Earnings for Persons Aged 18 and Over, by Level of Education--1992.

Not a high school graduate $12,809
High school graduate, only $18,737
Some college, no degree $19,666
Associate Degree $24,398
Bachelor's Degree $32,629
Master's Degree $40,368
Doctorate Degree $54,904
Professional Certification $74,560

*From research done by the Delaware Coalition for Literacy--August, 1994, Bureau of the Census Statistical Brief.


TABLE 4. 10%ile, 50%ile and 90%ile Annual Earnings of California and National Households, Male and Female Workers--1992.

Adjusted Household, Male and Female Workers in 1992 10%ile 50%ile 90%ile
Adjusted Household--California $11,787 $41,924 $103,648
Adjusted Household--United States $11,641 $41,121 $94,658
Male Worker--CA $5,997 $24,987 $60,969
Male Worker--U.S. $5,780 $25,087 $55,318
Female Worker--CA $2,998 $16,991 $39,980
Female Worker--U.S. $2,950 $15,052 $35,508

*Reed, Deborah, M.G. Haber, L. Mameesh, The Distribution of Income in California. Public Policy Institute of California, July, 1996. (pages 116-125)