The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) was conducted to measure both English literacy and health literacy. The assessment was administered to 19,000 adults (including 1,200 prison inmates) age 16 and over in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Components of the assessment included a background questionnaire; a prison component that assesses the literacy skills of adults in federal and state prisons; the State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL), a voluntary survey given in conjunction with NAAL; a health literacy component; the Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN), an oral reading assessment; and the Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment (ALSA). ALSA is an alternative to the main NAAL for those with very low scores on seven core screening questions. NAAL assesses literacy directly through the completion of tasks that covered quantitative literacy, document literacy, and prose literacy. Results were reported using the following achievement levels: Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient.
Results from NAAL and NALS can be compared. NALS offers a snapshot of the condition of literacy of the U.S. population as a whole and among key population subgroups in 1992. NAAL provides a picture of adult literacy skills in 2003, revealing changes in literacy over the intervening decade.
Further information on NAAL may be obtained from
Reporting and Dissemination Branch
National Center for Education Statistics
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202