PIAAC Report is out

Skills to Pay the BillsThe Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) has released its most recent survey. The results are astounding. The report is a bit difficult to read (just the U.S. summary is 108 pages!). If you’d like to read the summary, you may find it here.

If you don’t feel like a bit of light reading, let me give you some key points. Warning: these findings are very sobering.

It is more common in the US for adults to have low skills than other countries surveyed (p 13). Think about this. More common to have low skills. How will America compete on a global scale if our citizens struggle with basic skills? Furthermore, Americans are one group that has more formal education than the other nations (p 13). Essentially, despite US adults achieving a higher level of education compared to other nations, Americans are unable to compete with the basic skills of those in other nations with less education (p 29).

Another point that the PIAAC survey tells us is that “socio-economic background has a stronger influence on adult basic skills in the U.S. than in other countries” (p 13).   One can make a direct connection with poverty in the U.S. and lower literacy, numeracy, and life skills.

Overall, the report states that America has more people with weak skills and few people with strong skills than other countries (p 22). This makes low literacy more common in the United States than in most other countries that were surveyed.

Additionally, 5% of surveyed adults in the United States required paper testing opposed to the electronic testing because they did not possess the computer skills needed. This fact is related to Americans’ poor scores on problem solving in technology rich environments (p 23).

And where does Indiana rank? Indiana has 371,481 adults that lack basic literacy skills, and throughout the state there are only 41,397 adults enrolled in a state-administered adult education program (p 103). Allow me to do the math for you. That means that in Indiana 330,084 adults are not getting help they need to live a happy, healthy life. 330,084 adults. This is the combined population of Evansville, Bloomington, Terre Haute, Vincennes, Tell City, Jasper, all of Posey County, and a kindergarten class.

The Literacy Center has been battling these numbers for decades. I challenge you to help us. Help us make 330,084 adults lives better. Help us make our community better. Help us make our country better. Email me at courtney@litcenter.org to help The Literacy Center.

Back to School: It isn’t just for kids

july23blog picOh, the end of July. Until this year, it only meant that we were getting closer to my favorite season, fall. But this year is different. My daughter is starting kindergarten this year. I’m a little distraught, because am I really old enough to have a kid in school? I digress; sorry.

With Elliott starting school in less than 3 weeks (eek!), I can’t help but to think about education. Well, actually, I think about education all the time, because, it’s kind of what I do. But this year is different. This year it’s occupying nearly every waking moment.

As Elliott was being incredibly indecisive about her backpack decision in the store last week, I started gazing around at the other parents. I wondered what their fears were about sending their children to school. Were they worried their child would be made fun of? Were they concerned that their child wouldn’t be able to keep up? Or were they worried that their child would bring home homework, need help, and discover that their parents couldn’t read well enough to help them?

Unfortunately, this last fear is very real in many parents’ lives. And it breaks my heart.

If I had gotten my letter to Hogwarts and could successfully perform magic, like Harry Potter, I would make this fear go away. I would make the stigma of being a low-level reader go away – make people realize that an adult that doesn’t read well isn’t stupid. I would also wave my wand over the world and repeat the easy reading spell, readimintum, so everyone would have no trouble reading whatever their hearts’ desire.

But that is a fantasy. I never got my letter. I never had a wand choose me at Ollivander’s. I’m just a (young-ish) mom that is lucky enough to get to work with some of the hardest working and most determined group of learners that are in Southwest Indiana. But there are so many more that need our help that aren’t getting it.

If you work with the public, or are simply just observant of people around you while in public, odds are you will encounter at least one person a day who is a struggling reader. Would you be able to recognize their struggle? They may say that they forgot their glasses and ask you to read something to them. They may ask clarifying questions, even when the answer is in print in front of them. They may hand any written materials to someone else to read or view.

The sad truth is that finding adults that don’t read well is easier than them finding us. Many struggling readers don’t know we exist. Many may not know there is a safe, free place they can go for help.  We have numerous students who are here because someone else told them. With the Back to School season upon us, now is a perfect time to come to The Literacy Center.

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Darrell Reads!


Four years ago I couldn’t read, write, or spell, but The Literacy Center opened my eyes to a brand new world. Who would have known that you could travel the world through books?

Inside the cover of a book, you can find drama, pain, laughter, love, and mystery. By reading, you can leave your recliner and visit the world. I have been so blessed to be able to read The Diary of Anne Frank, Edgar Allan Poe, Hot Dogs and Hamburgers, Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and so many more.

Looking back I couldn’t even read a Dr. Seuss book. All I could spell was cat, dog, up, and my name. The Literacy Center has given me so much; I am the same man, but with knowledge. I found out with knowledge anything is possible.

For those people that still can’t read or write, have faith in yourselves. Turn to the Literacy Center, they can help. I am a testament of that. They are great people, and they do care. It’s a little scary at first but so worth it.

To those people who can read, turn off your TV’s for one hour and travel the world with a book. READ FOR LIFE is not just a slogan, it is my way of life. Because when I quit trying to better myself it is the time I no longer exist.

So better yourself and pick up a book!


IMG_0052 (2)Darrell Murray



Editor’s Note: Come hear Darrell’s story 6/25/15 at 3:00 pm at The Literacy Center.  

Read for Life

The Literacy Center Logo Small Use - Read for Life 4CRead for Life
What does that mean?

Take a moment and think about how often you read in a day.
How many words do you come across in an average day?

When you travel, how many signs do you scan without even realizing it?

At a grocery or department store, how many labels do you read? How many prices?

How many times do you read a text or an email on your phone, tablet or computer?

Is it thousands?

Now imagine this, you don’t read well or at all, you have never learned like others. How would you cope?

Would you use excuses of forgetting your glasses or a pen?

When you traveled how would you follow your route?

At the grocery how would you make nutritional choices for your family?

How would you respond to a message or would you?

Would you fill out your own paperwork?

How would you assist your child with homework?

How would you pay your bills?
We probably do take reading for granted and if we didn’t read, we would struggle, cope, or hide.

One in Five adults in our community struggle, cope and hide, these adults are not strangers. They are your neighbors, your friends, and your family. For me, they are Ashley, Darrell, and my Dad.

A Learning Difference does not discriminate.
A Learning Disability is not a disease.
But yet millions of Americans and 18,000 in our community don’t feel comfortable enough to seek help.  They don’t have the confidence to reach out and communicate with you that reading is too difficult for them.

The Literacy Center wants to help you reach out to your friend, your neighbor or your family member.

Read for Life is that reach, it is the hope that we can stop the struggles and the hiding.
It is also a reminder that reading in life is how we live. When we live well, we don’t struggle daily, we don’t just get by and we don’t have to be in the shadows.
Read for Life is a message to each and every individual that life can be better when you read.

The first step is getting your friend, neighbor or family member to call us. The individual who seeks help must be the one who calls. Help them feel comfortable with that call. Tell them that struggles with reading are not an indication of how you smart are. And asking for help is a good thing.

When you have gotten them to call, we will do the rest.

We will make an appointment for the assessment/interview. This appointment is about getting to know family history, what their goals are and what their reading level is. We coach them to the third step where they will receive access to immediate education in our computer lab. We will mentor them through the next 12 hours of time to earn their volunteer tutor. They put in the work; we put in the time to make them feel welcomed, accomplished or more confident. They will commit to a year of working with their tutor and reaching towards their goals. Their goals will be their own but all center on becoming self–sufficient and stopping the coping skills.

We want Read for Life to also encourage all people with limited reading skills to seek help before the next crisis of loss of a job, a child’s need for help or a health care emergency. Because when we read in life we can break the cycle of illiteracy. The struggling, coping and hiding will be in the past. The once non-readers will become more involved in our community and make better informed decisions for themselves.

The Literacy Center is located at 3411 First Avenue; you can help us by volunteering, making a donation or participating in one of our fundraisers.
You can also help by remembering that Read for Life is about helping a child with homework, traveling, eating well, being employed and paying your bills, utilizing the internet and being involved in your community by voting, volunteering and so much more.

Read for Life because Literacy Matters.