From the Washington Post: Literacy of College Graduates Is on Decline. Among other depressing facts, we learn that "Only 31 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it."
The results were based on a sample of more than 19,000 people 16 or older, who were interviewed in their homes. They were asked to read prose, do math and find facts in documents. The scores for "intermediate" reading abilities went up for college students, causing educators to question whether most college instruction is offered at the intermediate level because students face reading challenges.
Gorman said that he has been shocked by how few entering freshmen understand how to use a basic library system, or enjoy reading for pleasure. "There is a failure in the core values of education," he said. "They're told to go to college in order to get a better job -- and that's okay. But the real task is to produce educated people."
Other experts noted that the slip in scores could be attributed to most state schools not being particularly selective, accepting most high school graduates to bolster enrollment. In addition, Schneider said schools may not be taking into account a more diverse population, and the language and cultural barriers that come with shifting demographics.
I suspect that the decline in literacy is a result of the AWBWD attitude: Any Warm Body Will Do. And if you couldn't make some warm bodies literate in 12 years, you can't expect to fix the problem in four more years.
Post-secondaries (in Canada as well as the US) are under intense political pressure to accept as many students as they can cram into classrooms. Once admitted, it becomes impossible to flunk them—if you do, your enrolment stats drop and so does your funding. The system is about sustaining faculty jobs, not about educating young people to some level of competence.