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One In Four San Antonio Adults Reads At Or Below Fifth-Grade Level

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San Antonio has a literacy problem. Roughly one in four San Antonio adults is functionally illiterate – defined as reading at or below a fifth-grade level. How did we get here?

Research shows the importance of providing children with early language and literacy experiences to foster reading development, as is early identification and intervention for all children at risk for reading failure.

SA2020's January progress report ranks the education indicator of improving 3rd grade reading in San Antonio as "flat/getting worse." One in four students who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time.

Data shows an ongoing struggle to provide equitable educational opportunities. In middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, while only one age-appropriate book is likely available for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods. 

Low literacy has an impact on major social issues like poverty, health and the ability to secure and maintain employment. Forty-three percent of adults with the lowest literacy levels live in poverty. 

San Antonio's economy could benefit from a more literate workforce. A 1 percent boost in literacy scores is shown to up labor productivity by 2.5 percent and increase GDP by 1.5 percent.

What's being done locally to improve literacy rates in both children and adults? How does being able to read open doors? Can reading skills give people in San Antonio more opportunities to reach their full potential?


This is a community conversation and we want to hear from you. Leave a voicemail with your questions and comments in advance by calling 210-615-8982. During the live show (12 - 1 p.m.), call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.