Cuyahoga County’s Literacy Crisis
Data shows the pervasive, county-wide challenge of young children and adults without the skills needed to succeed
Cuyahoga County’s literacy crisis will persist for generations unless progress is accelerated in preparing young children for kindergarten and helping more adult residents secure at least a high school education.
An assessment of the state of literacy in Cuyahoga County done by The Literacy Cooperative found:
- 42% of all children enrolling in kindergarten in the 2018-19 school year weren’t adequately prepared to succeed
- More than half of Cuyahoga’s children unprepared for kindergarten are enrolling in suburban school districts
Kindergarten Readiness (2018-2019)
Children unprepared for kindergarten are less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade ‑ a predictor of later success in school.
And adults without a high school diploma lack the basic literacy and other skills required to access in-demand jobs that offer paths to prosperity.
Low literacy levels pervade all of Cuyahoga County. For example:
- 10% of all adults, or 101,221 residents, don’t have a high school diploma as of 2017
- Nearly 40% of those without a high school diploma are ages 18-44
- 58% of adults (18-44) without a high school diploma live in the city of Cleveland
- More than half of the young adults (18-24) without a diploma live in the suburbs
Adults without a High School Diploma
Read the full dashboard here: TLC’s Literacy in Cuyahoga County Assessment
Literacy is more than just reading. It’s an individual’s ability to read, write, speak, compute and solve problems.
This means reading labels on prescription bottles and understanding the directions on how much to take. This includes balancing a checkbook, basic math, comprehension and communicating in English.
In the home, literacy skills promote close family interactions, informed decision-making and lifelong learning. In school, strong literacy skills result in more capable students and higher levels of achievement.
Ultimately, healthy communities and families have literacy at their core, with informed and engaged residents who are better equipped to recognize and overcome civic, social and economic challenges.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), even one extra year of postsecondary education leads – on average and in the long run – to an increase in output per capita of 4 to 7%.
Read our Public Advocacy brief focused on addressing barriers to postsecondary educational success. Learn more.
Increasing the number of adults with up to two years of postsecondary education and training by 10% could increase annual federal tax revenues by almost $14 billion. (Skills2Compete Vision Works for America)
If the head of a household has more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree, it reduces the chances of that household living in poverty by 35%. (From U.S. Census Bureau, 2002)