Spelling and Vocabulary Problem in America


America has a spelling and vocabulary problem

Nearly 50 percent of Americans today are bad spellers and have limited vocabulary. In 2022, the ACT dropped to the lowest in three decades. Only 53% of all graduates met college-readiness benchmarks in English, but only 41% did so in reading. [EDW]

The average performance on the composite ACT fell for the fifth year in a row—the lowest performance since 1991.

More high school students are poor spellers

Incoming college students are poorly prepared to write. Many high school students do not know how to spell certain words correctly.

In 2009, a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI for the London-based Spelling Society showed more than half of Americans are bad spellers. [RP News]


American students have poor vocab skills

The quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary three years later. But vocabulary usage in college is learned in middle and high school.

However, middle school curricula have abandoned the need for extensive world-building. Why? Teaching vocabulary will not guarantee success in reading. [NRTAC]

The National Reading Panel (NICHD) identified vocabulary as one of five major components of reading. Vocab is a critical component of verbal intelligence.

A study in 2019 shows high school graduates have inferior vocabulary skills. Despite years of education up to college, vocabulary scores declined; scores on the GSS vocabulary test did not change much between 1974 and 2016. [PsyNews]

In Asia, many schools enforce a ton of English vocabulary to memorize. Although diction and enunciation need improvement, focusing on rote memory is essential. (Photo: Raw Pixel)


Lowering of standards in the United States

The curriculum has been adjusted in the USA to accommodate the growing number of failing high school students. Graduate rates have been reduced to statistics rather than quality turnouts.

The need to lower curriculum standards to accommodate students has overtaken a richer vocabulary experience in the USA.

Graduate rates reduced to statistics than quality turnouts.


Poor penmanship, spelling, and grammar

With poor vocabulary, penmanship, and spelling, the US education system produces a generation of illiterate Americans.

No wonder more than half of Americans between 16 and 74 read below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level. The data was pre-pandemic in 2019. [Gallup]


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