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Data to Support Funding Proposals or to Advocate for Adult Basic Skills (including English for immigrants)

Program Management and Professional Development colleagues,

Looking for needs data to support your funding proposals, or to advocate for adult basic skills, including English for Immigrants?

Below are four potentially useful sources. What other sources would you add to this list?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Program Management group


Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

Some of the most recent national data on adult literacy, numeracy and “problem solving in technology rich Environments (PSTRE)” will be found in the 2011-2012 PIAAC International Survey of Adult Skills (ISAS), an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey of its well-to-do member countries including the United States. Unfortunately the data are not available by state, county or Congressional district. Information about the ISAS, and links to the data, will be found at

U.S. Census Bureau

Annual American Community Survey data will be found at

For example, you can search this database by geography, e.g. type your. state, county, Congressional district, etc. in the box under “Community Facts”  – then choose “Education”  from the menu on the left, then choose “Educational attainment”. Data are available for each year from 2009 through 2016.

2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)

Data from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) are available at The NAAL was “a nationally representative assessment of English literacy among American adults age 16 and older. Sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), NAAL is the nation's most comprehensive measure of adult literacy since the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). NAAL not only provides information on adults' literacy performance but also on related background characteristics that are of interest to researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and the general public.” 

“In response to a demand for estimates of the percentage of adults with low literacy in individual states and counties, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has produced estimates of the percentage of adults lacking Basic Prose Literacy Skills (BPLS) for all states and counties in the United States in 2003 and 1992. These will be found at .

1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS)

Data are available at

Using NALS data, Portland State University researcher, Dr. Stephen Reder, compiled synthesized estimates by state and for small census areas.  Read about this at The data are available by Congressional districts, counties, and municipalities in a downloadable ERIC document at



Alecia Ohm's picture

I would add the Educate and Elevate campaign which provides a toolkit and resources for speaking with different kinds of stakeholders. They are focused on advocating programs for adult education and low-skilled adults. The National Skills Coalition has webinar recordings and reports/stats around workforce development and advocacy as well.

You can also try searching COABE and other adult ed organizations for state specific stats. I was able to find a survey focused on adult learners in our state: Learning for Life: An Illinois Perspective, 2016.