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National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)

Framework -> Literacy Tasks

Of Special Note
NAAL health literacy tasks. NAAL also includes a new health literacy score. Nearly one-fifth of the 2003 assessment questions are health-related. The health literacy scale score is based solely on these health-related questions.

Literacy is not a single ability that one either possesses or lacks. Rather, there are different types and levels of literacy and corresponding abilities. A common thread across all literacy tasks is that each has a purpose–whether that purpose is to pay the telephone bill or to understand a poem.

NAAL literacy tasks stem from the task-based, conceptual definition of adult literacy . NAAL assessment questions require participants to perform a task in order to gain the correct answer (e.g., finding a telephone number in the yellow pages). These tasks mirror the kinds of tasks that adults perform in their daily lives.

NAAL measures literacy along three scales which are derived from the three types of literacy—prose, document, and quantitative. Each scale comprises the knowledge and skills needed to perform the corresponding task.


Prose
literacy scale
 
arrow  Prose tasks

require the ability to search, comprehend, and use information from continuous texts such as news articles and instructional materials.

Examples of prose tasks include locating information from a newspaper article, comparing different points of views in editorials, and interpreting the theme of a poem.

Document
literacy scale
 
arrow 

Document tasks

require the ability to search, comprehend, and use information from noncontinuous texts such as job applications, maps, and food labels.

Examples of document tasks include using a schedule to select a train, filling out appropriate information on a form, and locating a street on a map.

Quantitative
literacy scale
 
arrow 

Quantitative tasks

require the ability to identify and perform computations using numbers embedded in printed materials.

Examples of document tasks include balancing a checkbook, completing an order form, and calculating the interest on a loan.


SOURCE: White, S., and McCloskey, M. (forthcoming). Framework for the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NCES 2005-531). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

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