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National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)

Major Differences Between NAAL and ALL


  2003 NAAL 2003 ALL
Responsible organization(s) NCES Statistics Canada (the international coordinating body), working with a steering group that included NCES
Goals To provide data on English literacy of American adults To provide data on internationally comparable literacy of adults in participating countries
Fundamental nature of assessment Uses texts in their original form that are typically encountered in everyday life of adults in the United States Uses texts that have been identified as suitable for use across countries. Thus, they may have been modified or simplified for comparability
Domains assessed Prose, document, and quantitative literacy; includes the first-ever health literacy measure Prose and document literacy, numeracy
Measurement of trends Block and booklet designs based on the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) to allow accurate measurements of trends between NAAL and NALS No trend data
Sample size (completed exercises) 19,714 3,420 in the United States
Ages in sample 16 and older (no upper limit) 16-65
Target population Adults age 16 and older residing in households and prisons 1 Adults 16-65 years old residing in households and group quarters (e.g., halfway houses or homeless shelters)
Block/booklet design Each respondent receives three 15-minute blocks, and each block contains a few items from each of the three scales (prose, document, and quantitative), including health related items Each respondent receives two 30-minute blocks, and each block contains items from either prose/document literacy, or numeracy
Performance levels Developed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Used the 1992 performance levels
Analytic procedures Reported separately for those who could not attempt the assessment because of literacy-related reasons—not part of the reporting sample Wrong answers imputed to all missing answers that were due to literacy problems—part of the reporting sample
Scoring Partial-credit scoring (22 new items; 5 items from 1992) Correct or incorrect
1 NAAL provides a measure of the literacy skills of the prison population separately from the overall population.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education