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PIAAC 2012/2014 Results

Results are now available from the 2012/2014 U.S. PIAAC Household Studies. Below are results from adults ages 16 to 65 in the U.S. and 21 other countries1 in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.

Glenn

Phillip


Literacy Tab

How Do Adults in the United States Compare on the PIAAC Literacy Scale to Their Peers in Other Countries/Regions?

  • Compared with the PIAAC international average distribution of literacy skills, the United States had a larger percentage of adults performing at both the top and bottom of the distribution. Thirteen percent of U.S. adults age 16-65 performed at the highest proficiency level (4/5) on the PIAAC literacy scale, which was higher than the international average of 12 percent. Eighteen percent of U.S. adults performed at the lowest level of the PIAAC literacy scale (at or below Level 1), which was higher than the international average of 16 percent.

Stack Bar chart: PIAAC Literacy Scale Proficiency Level.
United States: Below Level 1 (4%); Level 1 (13%); Level 2 (33%); Level 3 (36%); and Level 4/5 (13%). PIAAC international average: Below Level 1 (3%); Level 1 (12%); Level 2 (34%); Level 3 (39%); and (Level 4/5 (12%)

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, PIAAC 2012.

  • Average scores on the PIAAC literacy scale for adults age 16 to 65 ranged from 250 in Italy to 296 in Japan. The U.S. average score was 272, which was not significantly different from the PIAAC international average score. Compared with the U.S. average score, average scores in 7 countries were higher, in 6 countries they were lower, and in 8 countries they were not significantly different.

Average scores on the PIAAC literacy scale for adults age 16 to 65, by participating country and region: 2012 and 2014

Bar chart: Average scores on the PIAAC Literacy Scale.
In Japan, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Estonia and Flanders (Belgium), the score is significantly higher than the U.S. average score.
In Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Canada, Republic of Korea, England and Northern Ireland (UK), Denmark, Germany, Austria, and PIAAC international average, the score is not significantly different from the U.S. average score.
In Cyprus, Poland, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy, the score is significantly lower than the U.S. average score.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, PIAAC 2012.

Have Adults in the United States Made Progress in Literacy?

  • On the literacy scale, the average score for adults age 16 to 65 in the United States on the PIAAC (2012/14) was significantly higher than the score on ALL (2003-08) but was not significantly different than the score on IALS (1994-98).

Average scores on the IALS, ALL, and PIAAC literacy scales for adults in the United States age 16 to 65: Various years, 1994-2014

Bar chart: Average scores on IALS, ALL, and PIAAC literacy scale
IALS 273, ALL 268*, PIAAC 272

* Significantly different (p < .05) from PIAAC 2012/14.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), 1994-98; Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALL), 2003-08; and Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

1 Data from Australia are not shown due to national restrictions on the use of their data.