One in seven American adults in the US—about 32 million people—have such low literacy skills that they cannot read a newspaper story or a prescription bottle, a new federal study says. "They really cannot read paragraphs (or) sentences that are connected," says an Education Department researcher. The numbers aren't improving: The US adult population increased by 23 million between 1992 and 2003, 3.6 million of whom were functionally illiterate, USA Today reports.
Some individual states, such as Mississippi, have shown improvement, but in California, New York, Florida and Nevada, the percentage of adults with reading deficiencies rose. One adult-literacy advocate says Mississippi "invested more in education, and they have done innovative programming. We need much more of that."