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Glossary

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A

Administrative Accommodation :  Inherent aspects of the administration of NAAL for people with limited English proficiencies or with physical disabilities, including one-on-one administration of the assessment, additional time to complete assessment, use of magnification devices if necessary.
Related Term(s): Language Accommodations  
Related Link(s): Accommodations  

Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment (ALSA) :  A supplemental assessment, designed to assess the ability of the least literate adults, to identify letters and numbers and to comprehend simple prose and documents.
Related Term(s): Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN)  
Related Link(s): Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment  Basic Skills  

Application Skills (AS) :  Respondent skills that go beyond locating, computing, or comprehending by using or applying newly learned information to compare and contrast, explain causal relationships, predict outcomes, evaluate text, or infer the authorís pragmatic meaning.
Related Term(s): Basic Reading Skills (BRS)  Computation Identification Skills (CIS)  Computation Performance Skills (CS)  Inferential skills (IS)  Language Comprehension Skills (LCS)  Text Search Skills  
Related Link(s): Literacy Skills  

Assessment Booklet :  The portion of the assessment instrument given to individual adults. It is created by combining blocks of assessment tasks.
Related Term(s): Balanced Incomplete Block (BIB) Spiraling  Block Assessment  Matrix Sampling  

AM Software :  The AM Software must be downloaded in order to view the data set. Simply click on the AM Software link and follow instructions. This software includes procedures for marginal maximum likelihood (MML) estimation of literacy proficiencies. The instructions for using the software to analyze the NAAL data can be downloaded here PDF File (289 KB).

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B

Background Questionnaire :  The instruments used to collect information about adult demographics, educational experiences, and other information relevant to their performance on NAAL.
Related Term(s): Computer-Assisted Personal Interview System (CAPI)  Prison Component/Prison Assessment  State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL)  
Related Link(s): Background Questionnaire  

Bill :  Itemized account of the cost of goods sold, services rendered, or work done for which payment is due.
Related Term(s): Form  Graph  List  Map  Table  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

Balanced Incomplete Block (BIB) Spiraling :  A variant of standard matrix sampling (see below). With the BIB spiraling design, items are divided into blocks and blocks are assembled into booklets such that each booklet consists of an equal number of blocks and each block is paired one time with every other block. This design allows for the estimation of relations among all items through the unique linking of blocks.
Related Term(s): Assessment Booklet  Block (Census)  Block Assessment  Matrix Sampling  
Related Link(s): Assessment Booklets  

Basic Reading Skills (BRS) :  Decoding and word recognition without undue effort.
Related Term(s): Application Skills (AS)  Computation Identification Skills (CIS)  Computation Performance Skills (CS)  Inferential skills (IS)  Language Comprehension Skills (LCS)  Text Search Skills  
Related Link(s): Literacy Skills  

Block Assessment :  A group of assessment tasks created by dividing the task pool into subsets. Blocks are used in the implementation of the BIB spiral design.
Related Term(s): Balanced Incomplete Block (BIB) Spiraling  
Related Link(s): Assessment Booklets  

Block (Census) :  Subdivision of a census tract (or, prior to 2000, a block numbering area), Many blocks correspond to individual city blocks bounded by streets, but blocks - especially in rural areas - may include many square miles and may have some boundaries that are not streets.
Related Term(s): Matrix Sampling  
Related Link(s): NAAL Sampling  

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C

Computer-Assisted Personal Interview System (CAPI) :  A computer-assisted personal interviewing system, which can 1) implement sampling procedures to determine eligible households and respondents; 2) control the background questionnaire instrument flow by determining which questions should be asked and which should be skipped; and 3) guide the sampled person through the assessment.

Core Screening Questions :  A set of seven questions that are relatively easy and similar in structure to those on the main NAAL; they serve as a transition from the NAAL Background Questionnaire to the literacy tasks, and they determine whether the respondentís skills are sufficient to participate in the main NAAL or whether the individual should be routed to the Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment (ALSA).
Related Term(s): Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment (ALSA)  Background Questionnaire  Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN)  Language Accommodations  
Related Link(s): NAAL Interview  

Computation Identification Skills (CIS) :  Skills involved in determining what computations are required to solve a quantitative problem.
Related Term(s): Application Skills (AS)  Basic Reading Skills (BRS)  Computation Performance Skills (CS)  Inferential skills (IS)  Language Comprehension Skills (LCS)  Text Search Skills  
Related Link(s): Literacy Skills  

Computation Performance Skills (CS) :  Skills required for performing arithmetic computations with or without the benefit of a calculator, or explaining arithmetic reasoning.
Related Term(s): Application Skills (AS)  Basic Reading Skills (BRS)  Computation Identification Skills (CIS)  Inferential skills (IS)  Language Comprehension Skills (LCS)  Text Search Skills  
Related Link(s): Literacy Skills  

Clinical Task :  Most deal with a specific disease or condition, and generally relate to the specifics of a patientís treatment; involves health care itself, such as, interactions between health care provider and patient, clinical encounters, and diagnosis and treatment of illness.
Related Term(s): Navigational Tasks  Preventative Tasks  
Related Link(s): Health Literacy: Development & Administration  

Cognitive Laboratory :  An assessment research method of studying the mental processes involved when a respondent reads and responds to assessment questions. In a cognitive lab, a respondent completes the assessment and verbally reports his or her thoughts related to the assessment question using a combination of ďthink-aloudĒ sessions and interviews with the researcher after each question is completed. Cognitive lab studies can reveal sources of confusion and misunderstanding in the assessment, such as questions that are unclear and subject to different interpretations, instructions that are overly complicated, and issues of bias and sensitivity.
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  Survey Instruments  

Coded :  To assign a set of numbers to text- or task-characteristic variables to show whether the variables are present or absent in an assessment task.

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D

Document Literacy :  The knowledge and skills needed to perform document tasks, i.e., to search, comprehend, and use information from noncontinuous text in various formats, including job applications, payroll forms, transportation schedules, maps, tables, and drug or food labels (see Exhibit 6).
Related Term(s): Prose Literacy  Quantitative Literacy  
Related Link(s): Three Types of Literacy  

Document Task :  Tasks for which the correct response primarily requires processing noncontinuous text (i.e., not complete sentences).
Related Term(s): Prose Task  Quantitative Task  
Related Link(s): Literacy Tasks  

Document Text :  A noncontinuous text that lacks complete sentences, is structured with labeled categories, and generally includes more blank space than prose text.
Related Term(s): Literacy (Task-based)  Prose Text  Quantitative Task  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

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E

Expository Prose :  A text that defines a concept; describes the characteristics or attributes of something, such as the requirements for employment; or explains something, such as the cause of global warming. Expository prose generally begins by stating a thesis and consists of paragraphs with topic sentences.
Related Term(s): Narrative Prose  Persuasive Prose  Poem  Procedural Prose  

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F

Facilitator :  Features of the assessment task that contribute to locating, inferring, or calculating the correct response.

Form :  Document with blanks into which required information is inserted.
Related Term(s): Bill  Graph  List  Map  Table  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

Field-Test :  Data from a pre-tested set of items to obtain information regarding clarity, difficulty levels, timing, feasibility, and special administrative situations; the field test is a relatively small-scale study conducted before revising and selecting the items to be used in the assessment.
Related Term(s): Interrater Reliability  Scoring Rubrics  
Related Link(s): Scoring Rubrics  

Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN) :  A supplement to NAAL that uses speech-recognition software to measure basic reading skills. The FAN measures the adultís ability to decode, recognize words and read with fluency.
Related Term(s): Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment (ALSA)  Oral Reading Fluency  Pseudo words  
Related Link(s): Basic Skills  

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G

Graph :  Diagram that represents the variation of one or more domains.
Related Term(s): Bill  Form  List  Map  Table  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

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H

Health Literacy :  The ability to understand and use health-related printed information in daily activities at home, at work, and in the community to achieve oneís goals and to develop oneís knowledge and potential.
Related Term(s): Health Literacy Component (HLC)  
Related Link(s): Health Literacy  

Health Literacy Component (HLC) :  Items included in the HLC measure adultsí ability to perform literacy tasks using written and printed health-related information. These tasks are divided into three different types; clinical, preventative, and navigational.
Related Term(s): Health Literacy  
Related Link(s): Health Literacy  

Hybrid Question :  A question that requires the respondent to perform a task using a stimulus material that is both prose and document in structure. If the respondent is required to process the prose segment, the question is coded as a prose task, and vice versa.
Related Term(s): Document Text  Prose Text  Quantitative Task  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

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I

Inhibitors :  Features of the assessment task that interfere with locating, inferring, or calculating the correct response.

Inferential skills (IS) :  The ability to connect pieces of information within and across sentences using knowledge of discourse, logical reasoning, and prior knowledge; "presumably possessed by respondents"; drawing appropriate text-based inferences.
Related Term(s): Application Skills (AS)  Basic Reading Skills (BRS)  Computation Identification Skills (CIS)  Computation Performance Skills (CS)  Language Comprehension Skills (LCS)  Text Search Skills  
Related Link(s): Literacy Skills  

Interrater Reliability :  The rate of consistency between coders; the percentage of times two readers agree exactly on how to code a task using the NAAL definitions of literacy tasks, task types, text characteristics, and task process.
Related Term(s): Field-Test   Scoring Rubrics  
Related Link(s): Scoring Rubrics  

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L

List :  One-dimensional series of numbers or words associated with one or more labels; a type of document.
Related Term(s): Bill  Form  Graph  Map  Table  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

Language Accommodations :  NAAL makes a number of procedural and linguistic accommodations to include data about the literacy skills of English as a Second Language (ESL) adults. Bilingual interviewers conduct assessments in both English and Spanish. The background questionnaire, core questions, ALSA, and FAN are administered orally in English or Spanish (depending on respondentís preference). If the respondent speaks a language other than English and Spanish they are allowed use an intermediary such as a family member to translate the screenerís questions.
Related Term(s): Administrative Accommodation  Limited English Proficiency (LEP)  
Related Link(s): Accommodations  

Language Comprehension Skills (LCS) :  Understanding the structure and meaning of sentences as well as the relationships among sentences.
Related Term(s): Application Skills (AS)  Basic Reading Skills (BRS)  Computation Identification Skills (CIS)  Computation Performance Skills (CS)  Inferential skills (IS)  Text Search Skills  
Related Link(s): Literacy Skills  

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) :  Adults, native- or non-native speakers of English, whose English language proficiency is limited.
Related Term(s): Administrative Accommodation  Language Accommodations  
Related Link(s): Accommodations  

Literacy (Skill-based) :  The knowledge and skills an adult must possess in order to perform prose, document, and quantitative tasks using printed and written information.
Related Term(s): Literacy (Task-based)  
Related Link(s): Definition of Literacy  

Literacy (Task-based) :  (Conceptual) the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve oneís goals, and to develop oneís knowledge and potential (see Exhibit).
Related Term(s): Literacy (Skill-based)  
Related Link(s): Definition of Literacy  

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M

Main NAAL :  The main part of the assessment taken by most of the participants, as differentiated from ALSA, which evaluates the least-literate adults (determined by their performance on the core screening tasks). Approximately 97 percent of NAAL participants took the main NAAL, while only 3 percent took ALSA.

Matrix Sampling :  A strategy used in large-scale testing programs to get better information about overall performance by giving different sets of questions to different samples of respondents during the same test administration.
Related Term(s): Balanced Incomplete Block (BIB) Spiraling  Block (Census)  Block Assessment  
Related Link(s): Assessment Booklets  

Map :  Spatial representation or diagram of a place; a type of document.
Related Term(s): Bill  Form  Graph  List  Table  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

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N

Narrative Prose :  An account of events, the purpose of which is to entertain, to tell a story, or to provide an aesthetic literary experience; includes fiction, nonfiction, and features of news stories; usually has characters, setting, a series of events in chronological order, and a point at the end that may be inferred.
Related Term(s): Expository Prose  Persuasive Prose  Poem  Procedural Prose  

Navigational Tasks :  Tasks that involve dealing with the bureaucratic demands of the health care system, for example, the ability to understand the benefits of a health insurance plan and the individual rights and responsibilities of the patient.
Related Term(s): Clinical Task  Preventative Tasks  
Related Link(s): Health Literacy: Development & Administration  

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O

Other ("Other") Document :  A type of document that fails to fit into other NAAL document types or that combines their characteristics (e.g., a drug label; an advertisement containing a diagram and an order blank; or a road sign).
Related Term(s): Bill  Form  Graph  List  Map  Table  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

Oral Reading Fluency :  Smooth, well-paced, rhythmic, and accurate reading of prose passages; too rapid reading is not necessarily fluent reading.
Related Term(s): Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN)  
Related Link(s): Basic Skills  

Over-Sampling :  Deliberately sampling a portion of the population at a higher rate than the remainder of the population to increase the precision of estimates of that subpopulation.
Related Term(s): Primary Sampling Unit (PSU)  
Related Link(s): NAAL Sampling  

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P

Preventative Tasks :  Tasks that involve understanding health guidelines. These tasks often involve understanding instructions for preventative health measures, warning labels, and guidelines for preventative screening.
Related Term(s): Clinical Task  Preventative Tasks  
Related Link(s): Health Literacy: Development & Administration  

Prose Task :  Task for which the correct response is found in continuous text that includes at least one complete sentence.
Related Term(s): Document Task  Quantitative Task  
Related Link(s): Literacy Tasks  

Procedural Prose :  Text that gives instructions on how to do something, such as how to get somewhere or how to use the Internet.
Related Term(s): Expository Prose  Narrative Prose  Persuasive Prose  Poem  

Persuasive Prose :  Text that represents a position on a topic and reasons for the position in an attempt on the part of the author to influence the reader into viewing things from the authorís point of view.
Related Term(s): Expository Prose  Narrative Prose  Poem  Procedural Prose  

Poem :  Refers to text that is arranged in patterns of lines and of sounds, usually expressing in imaginative language some deep thought, feeling, or human experience.
Related Term(s): Expository Prose  Narrative Prose  Persuasive Prose  Procedural Prose  

Participant :  A person who responds to the NAAL background questions and assessment tasks; for the 2003 NAAL, an adult age 16 and over who is in the sample and responds by completing one or more questions in an assessment booklet.
Related Term(s): State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL)  
Related Link(s): State Assessment of Adult Literacy  

Performance Level :  Ranges of literacy scores that provide the ability to group together people with similar scores into a relatively small number of categories for reporting purposes when fine distinctions among scores are not needed. In NAAL, the levels include Below Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient.
Related Term(s): Literacy (Skill-based)  
Related Link(s): Performance Levels  

Primary Sampling Unit (PSU) :  The basic geographic sampling unit for NAAL; can be either a single county or a set of contiguous counties.
Related Term(s): Over-Sampling  
Related Link(s): NAAL Sampling  

Prior Knowledge (PK) :  Factual knowledge that respondents already have; it helps them fill the gaps left by the author such as the knowledge that there are 60 minutes in an hour or that there are 50 states in the United States.

Prison Component/Prison Assessment :  This assessment provides demographic and performance data for the prison population, in comparison with the main NAAL household study of the general adult population.
Related Term(s): Background Questionnaire  Basic Reading Skills (BRS)  Literacy (Skill-based)  
Related Link(s): Background Questionnaire  

Prose Text :  A continuous text that includes at least one complete sentence.
Related Term(s): Document Task  Quantitative Task  Quantitative Task  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

Prose Literacy :  The knowledge and skills needed to perform prose tasks, i.e., to search, comprehend, and use information from continuous text including editorials, news stories, brochures, and instructional materials.
Related Term(s): Document Literacy  Quantitative Literacy  
Related Link(s): Three Types of Literacy  

Pseudo words :  Made-up words (e.g., ďsurtĒ); used to assess decoding skills, as part of FAN.
Related Term(s): Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN)  
Related Link(s): Basic Skills  

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Q

Quantitative Literacy :  The knowledge and skills required to perform quantitative tasks, i.e., to identify and perform computations, either alone or sequentially, using numbers embedded in printed material, such as balancing a checkbook, figuring out a tip, completing an order form, or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement.
Related Term(s): Document Literacy  Prose Literacy  
Related Link(s): Three Types of Literacy  

Quantitative Task :  A task that requires identifying and performing arithmetical computation, or describing arithmetical reasoning.
Related Term(s): Document Task  Literacy (Task-based)  
Related Link(s): Literacy Tasks  

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S

Scoring Rubrics :  Guide for classifying and categorizing responses to a task. Used to ensure consistency of scoring when multiple scorers are involved and transfer response to data usable for analysis.
Related Term(s): Field-Test   Interrater Reliability  
Related Link(s): Scoring Rubrics  

Screening Question :  See Core Screening Question

Skills :  See literacy skills

State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL) :  A component of NAAL that gives state wide estimates of literacy for states participating in the state-level assessment.
Related Term(s): Literacy (Skill-based)  Trend Data  
Related Link(s): State Assessment of Adult Literacy  

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T

Text Search Skills :  The process of searching text with the goal of finding or locating specific information (e.g., facts, numbers) within a broader array of information (e.g., paragraphs, tables, reference books); includes both text implicit and text explicit searches.
Related Term(s): Application Skills (AS)  Basic Reading Skills (BRS)  Computation Identification Skills (CIS)  Computation Performance Skills (CS)  Inferential skills (IS)  Language Comprehension Skills (LCS)  
Related Link(s): Literacy Skills  

Table :  A document in which information is arrayed in rows and columns.
Related Term(s): Bill  Form  Graph  List  Map  
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  

Trend Data :  The data that are obtained when the same set of tasks (6 blocks) is used in both 1992 and 2003 assessments in order to provide the information about adults' literacy over time.
Related Term(s): State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL)  
Related Link(s): State Assessment of Adult Literacy  

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V

Validate :  To ensure that the questions measure what they are designed to measure, which, in the context of NAAL, refers to prose, document, and quantitative literacy.
Related Link(s): Assessment Questions  Survey Instruments  

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