The literacy crisis in Philadelphia's public schools produces adults who struggle to read.

52% of Philadelphia adults are functionally illiterate.*

67% are low-literate, reading at a sixth- to eighth-grade level.*

Philadelphia ranks at the bottom among big cities in reading proficiency, beating out just four other big cities on the most recent National Assessment of Academic Progress (NAEP) test.*

This means that almost 40% of the workforce in Philadelphia struggles to fill out a job application, to read doctors’ instructions on their medicines, and to help with their children’s homework.*


Philadelphia ranks 22nd in educational attainment out of the 25 largest US cities. Only 23% of Philadelphians 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 6% behind the national average.**


2 in 5 is not performing

39.1% of School District of Philadelphia 3rd graders scored below proficiency level on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in 2016.


6 times
more likely
to drop out

Low-income, struggling readers are six times more likely to drop out than their proficient peers.*


1 in 3 doesn't graduate

Only 64% of 9th graders in Philadelphia public schools graduate in 4 years, which is 19 percentage points below the state average and 16 percentage points below the national average.*


1 in 4
drops out

25% of Philadelphia school children drop out after years of low performance related to lack of literacy skills.*

Many of the students we assess are under-performing as many as four or five grade levels below their appropriate reading level.


Perpetuating the poverty cycle

Philadelphia's literacy crisis produces an adult workforce whose opportunities are significantly limited. The connection between low literacy levels and unemployment is strong."

As of September 2016, the unemployment rate in Philadelphia County is 7.0%, compared to the national average of 4.8%.

12.2% of Philadelphians live in deep poverty—defined as income below half of the poverty line—the highest rate among the nation's 10 most populous cities.*

Almost 40% of those living in poverty in Philadelphia lack a high school credential.* 


Without a high school credential, many Philadelphians are at a serious disadvantage when trying to find work or earn family-sustaining wages. Out of reach for them are jobs in the fastest-growing sectors — education and the health services — which require higher education or post-secondary training.