Three percent of adults can’t read in English, concludes a federal report from the National Center for Education Statistics. Yet nearly 20 percent of the illiterate group had a high school diploma or GED; about half had been educated in the U.S.
For those for whom Spanish is a first language, a delay in learning English is associated with low basic reading skills. Those who learned English before age 11 had basic reading scores similar to average native English speakers (97 words read correctly per minute); however, for those who learned English after age 21, average scores were 35 points (or about one-third) lower.
It’s not clear delayed English mastery caused low reading skills or whether the factors that caused failure to learn reading also caused problems in learning English.