Educational outcomes at age 21 associated with reading ability at age 15 (2009)

Education Matters: Insights on Education, Learning and Training in Canada, June 2009, Vol 6 No. 2

This article, published by Statistics Canada, looks at the association between reading proficiency as measured at age 15, and both high school graduation and participation in postsecondary education by age 19.

The authors note that previous research using data from the Youth in Transition Survey showed for the first time that reading proficiency at age 15 plays a significant role in both high school graduation and postsecondary participation by age 19. However, as age 19 is still relatively early to have conclusive information on the educational outcomes of young people, the authors took advantage of more recent survey data to examine high school and postsecondary education outcomes for that same group of young people two years later, when they were 21 years old.

Their analysis confirms that many individuals at lower reading proficiency levels took more time to complete high school. Also, it indicates that youth who were high school dropouts at age 19 and who had returned to high school by age 21 had higher reading proficiency scores than those who remained dropouts.

Youth with higher reading ability at age 15 were more likely to have attended a postsecondary institution by the time they were age 21, and were also more likely to still be enrolled at age 21, compared to those having lower reading scores.

Finally, when controlling for other demographic factors known to influence participation in postsecondary education, reading proficiency had the strongest effect on attending college or university, with higher percentages of high-scoring youth attending both university and college than their low-scoring counterparts, regardless of family background.

However, it is also apparent that differences exist in patterns of postsecondary participation when family background is considered, with participation in postsecondary education being comparatively lower for youth with parents with less education or lower income, despite their reading proficiency.

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APA citation
Tamara Knighton, Patrick Bussière and Roland Hébert. Educational outcomes at age 21 associated with reading ability at age 15 2009. Web. 30 Jan. 2023 <>
Tamara Knighton, Patrick Bussière & Roland Hébert (2009). Educational outcomes at age 21 associated with reading ability at age 15. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from
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