The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a household study that has been developed under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the United States, the study was conducted in 2011-2012 with a nationally representative sample of 5,000 adults between the ages of 16 and 65. Similar samples of adults were surveyed in each of the 24 other participating countries. The goal of PIAAC is to assess and compare the basic skills and the broad range of competencies of adults around the world. The assessment focuses on cognitive and workplace skills needed for successful participation in 21st-century society and the global economy. Specifically, PIAAC measures relationships between individuals' educational background, workplace experiences and skills, occupational attainment, use of information and communications technology, and cognitive skills in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.
PIAAC is a complex assessment: the data collection is being conducted in multiple languages, in numerous countries with diverse populations, cultures, education and life experiences. All participating countries follow the quality assurance guidelines set by the OECD consortium, and closely follow all the agreed-upon standards set for survey design, implementation of the assessment, and the reporting of results.
PIAAC builds on knowledge and experiences gained from previous international adult assessments - the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALL). PIAAC enhances and expands on these previous assessments' frameworks and, at the same time, improves upon their design and methodologies.
In the United States, the PIAAC assessment is conducted in English only; however, the PIAAC survey background questions are in both English and Spanish. PIAAC is named the International Survey of Adult Skills (ISAS) in the United States. Data collection for the first PIAAC field test was conducted in 2010, and its first main assessment began in August 2011 and finished in April 2012. NCES's "First Look" report of the PIAAC data and the OECD's international PIAAC report were released October 8, 2013.
The PIAAC assessment was conducted again in the United States from August 2013 through April 2014 to collect a supplemental sample of U.S. households as well as a separate sample of adults in state, federal, and private prisons. The prison sample was administered the PIAAC assessment with a modified background questionnaire.
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