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National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)

Sampling & Data Collection -> The NAAL Interview

The NAAL interview is conducted in the following order:
First, every respondent completes a background questionnaire that collects data on demographics, socioeconomic background and other factors associated with literacy.

Next, every respondent completes seven core screening questions, which are among the easiest in the assessment. View a sample core question.


core screening questions

SOURCE: White, S. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) (NCES 2003-495 Revised). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

Similar in structure to the main NAAL assessment questions, the core questions determine whether a respondent's skills are sufficient to participate in the main NAAL assessment or if the individual should be routed to the Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment (ALSA). Interviewers use a scoring rubric to code respondents’ answers to each code question (e.g., “1” for correct, “2” for wrong, and “3” for no response). Interviewers enter the codes into a Computer-Assisted Personal Interview System (CAPI), which selects respondents for ALSA using an empirically derived algorithm that predicts very low performance on the main NAAL. ALSA assesses the ability of the least-literate adults to identify letters and numbers and to comprehend simple prose materials. Those participants who score low on the basic core screening questions take ALSA instead of the main NAAL.

After completing either the main NAAL assessment booklet or ALSA, every respondent takes the Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN). FAN uses speech-recognition software to assess adults’ ability to decode and recognize words and to read with fluency.



Average time required to administer NAAL
  Main NAAL ALSA
Background questionnaire 28 min 28 min
Core screening items 8 min 8 min
Main NAAL or ALSA 39 min 25 min
FAN 14 min 12 min
Total 89 min 73 min
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

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