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Part III Education Helps Some More Than Others

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I. Income and literacy will be analyzed for people with different levels of education.
  A. The Table 1 1996 income data was published by the National Center For Educational Statistics in the 1998 Digest of Educational Statistics will be analyzed.
  B. The Table 2 literacy data was determined by the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey1, which was sponsored by the National Center for Educational Statistics and published on page 26 of Adult Literacy in America (ISBN 0-16-041929-8), will be analyzed.

Table 1 1996 Income of People 25 Years Old and Older with Income by
Highest Level of Education Completed

Male Percent Distribution
Female Percent Distribution
Income Range High School


High School


$1 to $9,999 14.0 6.4 38.9 22.4
$10,000 to $24,999 36.4 19.3 42.9 27.0
$25,000 to $34,999 20.1 16.3 10.8 20.5
$35,000 to $49,999 18.0 21.5 5.0 16.5
$50,000 to $74,999 8.7 21.3 1.8 9.5
$75,000 and over 2.8 15.1 0.6 4.0
Median Income* $24,814 $39,624 $12,702 $25,192
College doesn't help some.
(1) About 25% of the male college graduates earn less than the median male high school graduate.
(2) About 27% of the female college graduates earn less than the median female high school graduate.
Some high school graduates do very well.
(3) About 24% of the male high school graduates earn more than the median male college graduate.
(4) About 18% of the female high school graduates earn more than the median female college graduate.
*Author's median and analysis calculations assume data within a class is equally distributed.

Table 2 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey by
Highest Level of Education Completed

5 Literacy Levels
(low to high)

Percent Distribution*
High School

Percent Distribution*

0-225 18 4
226-275** 36 13
276-325 36 36
326-375 10 38
376-500 1 10
Median Score*** 270 322
a substantial number of college graduates, approximately 16%, scored lower than the high school graduate median score of 270.
(2) a substantial number of high school graduates, approximately 14%, scored higher than the college graduate median score of 322.
* Each class percentage is the class average percentage for the three kinds of literacy being measured.
**Although individuals possessing Level 2 skills had more varied skills ... "than those individuals performing at Level 1, their repertoire was still quite limited." (From page xiv of Adult Literacy in America.)
*** Author's median and analysis calculations assume data within a class is equally distributed.

1II. The three parts of the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (test) measured prose, document, and quantitative literacy.
A. Literacy was defined by a national panel of experts to be "Using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential."2
B. "Unlike traditional definitions of literacy, which focused on decoding and comprehension, this definition encompasses a broad range of skills that adults use in accomplishing the many different types of literacy tasks associated with work, home, and community contexts."3
C. Using an everyday format, questions involved things like using a newspaper story to measure prose literacy, using a transportation schedule to measure document literacy, and using a loan advertisement requiring an interest calculation to measure quantitative literacy.
D. Approximately 26,000 people over the age of 15 years participated in the survey.

Sample Question With Level of Difficulty4 from the 1992 Adult Literacy Survey

Prose Document Quantitative

Level 1

"149 Identify country in short article" "170 Locate expiration date on driver's license" "191Total a bank deposit entry"
Level 2
"226 Underline meaning of a term given in government brochure on supplemental security income" "246 Locate eligibility from table of employee benefits" "246 Determine difference in price between tickets at two shows"
Level 3
"288 Write a brief letter explaining error made on a credit card bill" "314 Use bus schedule to determine appropriate bus for given set of conditions" "321 Calculate miles per gallon using information given on mileage record chart"
Level 4
326- 375
"347 Explain difference between two types of employee benefits" "352 Use table of information to determine pattern in oil exports across years" "350 Using information presented in news article, calculate the amount of money that should go to raising children"
Level 5
"410 Summarize two ways lawyers may challenge prospective jurors" "395 Use a table depicting information about parental involvement in school survey to write a paragraph summarizing extent to which parents and teachers agree" " 421 Using calculator, determine the total cost of carpet to cover a room"

2Page 2 of Adult Literacy in America
3Page 3 of Adult Literacy in America
4Page 10 of Adult Literacy in America

For Many, the Economic Return from Education Will Stagnate  

View Part IV  
Who Gets the Good Jobs and How Much They Pay

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Education Helps Some More Than Others

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