More than half of Cuyahoga County’s adults can’t read at the highest proficiency level.
That’s according to the Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland, a group that bills itself as an “umbrella organization” working to bring the community together on efforts related to literacy.
Literacy rates are a big deal. Aside from boosting educational and job-attainment rates, not being able to read at a proficient level can impact lots of things in life, including people’s health. Low literacy rates cost both businesses and taxpayers nationwide $20 billion annually in lost wages, profits and productivity, according to the group.
The rate – 54 percent, to be exact – was referenced during the group’s announcement of its latest annual literacy dashboard, which was discussed during an event at Cuyahoga Community College on Friday, Dec. 2.
A more commonly cited rate is 66 percent, drawn from a 2004 study from Case Western Reserve University. It can be difficult to calculate literacy rates year to year.
Robert Paponetti, the group’s president and CEO. , called it a “higher-than-we-should-have” percentage.
“If you’re literate, you take it for granted,” Paponetti said. “And if you’re low-literate, you hide it. I mean, you’ve worked your whole life to make sure other people don’t know that you’re low-literate.”
The dashboard is expected to be online next week.
Amy Morona covers higher education for Signal Cleveland, in partnership with Open Campus.