New Report Documents Low Level of Numeracy in Adult Black Population

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies is a large-scale study of working-age adults – ages 16 to 65 – conducted by the U.S. Department of Education that assesses adult skills in three domains: literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving. The assessment defines numeracy as “the ability to access, use, interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life.”

The survey found that 70 percent of U.S. adults have sufficient numeracy skills to make calculations with whole numbers and percentages, estimate numbers or quantity, and interpret simple statistics in text or tables. But nearly one in three U.S. adults (30 percent) has difficulty completing such tasks. This translates into 62.7 million U.S. adults who possess low numeracy skills.

Nearly one quarter of all adults in the United States with low numeracy skills are foreign born. About 15 percent of all adults in the United States are foreign born.

African Americans make up 13.4 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But 26 percent of the adults with low numeracy skills are Black. Thus, Black Americans are nearly twice as likely to have low levels of numeracy skills compared to their percentage of the total population. Three percent of all adults in the U.S. with low levels of numeracy skills are foreign-born Blacks.

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  1. Once again, the inherently biased Department of Education enjoys perpetuating negative stereotypes about native born Black Americans with this flawed study. We must ask the question why is that? Let me guess. It solidifies a particular narrative about native born Black Americans as being less-than. As a result, it can very easily justify its continued neglect of native born Black American students in particular. This very flawed study fail to factor in the historical and current legacy of both institutional and structural racism and educational outcomes for native born Black Americans. We wonder why!

  2. I agree that the study results includes bias. No reference to the source of the data used in the study nor what statistics analysis were used to account for bias. Frankly, few, extremely few African Americans data sources are valid and reliable.

  3. Unfortunately, both Michael and Murdell are in denial.

    Flimsy excuses for black underperformance are no longer acceptable. Those who can’t keep up will be left behind.

    • Hey Ewart,

      You need to recognize that you’re the epitome of unashamed ignorance. Thereby, your misguided comment is not worthy of a substantive response. Time for tea and crumpets. Don’t forget your latte.

  4. Score gaps exist across the spectrum, from K-12 achievement tests to SATs, MCATs, LSATs, GREs and the like. It’s hard to attribute these gaps to “racism” when immigrant blacks so outperform US born blacks, and when school systems that have mostly black teachers teaching mostly black students don’t do any better. It’s hard to attribute them to opportunity when studies (see the JBHE article link here) show that privileged blacks perform barely on par with poverty-stricken whites. We have to tackle this issue head on, accepting that score gaps exist and addressing whatever the root cause is. Just levering some sort of vague “historical legacyof racism” charge solves nothing, and has no basis in fact.

    • Well, well, well!What do we have here another misinformed “third world” immigrant spewing out fragmented neoliberal and conservative sound bites. Let’s be clear “James”. The “immigrant Blacks” you’re referencing are the top in their British or French controlled island with the majority are still languishing in abject poverty.

      • Michael,
        I was referring to Jamaicans, as a particular example of immigrant blacks who have done well here in the US. But my point is that it’s hard to blame “racism” against blacks as the reason for poor performance on achievement tests when they do just fine. What’s your theory: “Oh, I see you are a Jamaican black and not a regular black. We won’t be racist toward you”?

        • Your dimwitted response is not even worthy of a response because are totally oblivious or in denial about the impact and realities of American racism. Let me guess, you think you’re exceptional. I don’t think Jimmy boy. You’ll eventually get reminded who you really are pal. Work on your reading comprehension skills.

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