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 Pub Number  Title  Date
NCES 2019179 Adult Literacy in the United States

Using the data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), this Data Point summarizes the number of U.S. adults with low levels of English literacy and describes how they differ by nativity status and race/ethnicity.

PIAAC is a large-scale international study of working-age adults (ages 16–65) that assesses adult skills in three domains (literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving) and collects information on adults' education, work experience, and other background characteristics. In the United States, when the study was conducted in 2011–12 and 2013–14, respondents were first asked questions about their background, with an option to be interviewed in English or Spanish, followed by a skills assessment in English. Because the skills assessment was conducted only in English, all U.S. PIAAC literacy results are for English literacy.

This Data Point focuses on the following two questions:

  • What are the rates of literacy in the United States?
  • What is the make-up of adults with low English literacy skills by nativity status and race/ethnicity?
7/2/2019
NCES 2018122 Analyzing U.S. Young Adults' Skills by Student and Employment Status: Methodology for a New PIAAC Variable with Initial Results
The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a cyclical, large-scale study of adult cognitive skills and life experiences. The study focuses on cognitive skills in three domains: literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. The purpose of this report is to provide researchers a simple and efficient way of investigating policy issues related to young adults (age 16-34) and their transition into the labor force using PIAAC data. In particular, the report introduces a student-and-employment status variable, explains how this variable was developed, and illustrates the use of the variable, reporting skills by student and employment status. The initial PIAAC 2012/2014 First Look report was released in 2016.
6/19/2018
NCES 2018007 Adult Education Attainment and Assessment Scores: A Cross-National Comparison
This Statistics in Brief builds upon the findings in an earlier NCES report to provide additional cross-national comparisons of adult literacy and numeracy proficiencies by education attainment based on the 2011-12 PIAAC.
9/19/2017
NCES 2016668REV Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012/2014: U.S. National Supplement Restricted Use Data Files-Household
The PIAAC 2012/14 U.S. RUF contains individual unit record data including both responses to the background questionnaire and the cognitive assessment from both the first and second U.S. PIAAC data collections, completed in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Statistical disclosure control treatments were applied due to confidentiality concerns. In addition to the variables in the PUF (NCES 2014-667REV), the RUF contains detailed versions of variables and additional data collected through U.S. specific questionnaire routing. The RUF can be accessed through a restricted use license agreement with the National Center for Education Statistics. For more details on the RUF, please refer to Appendix E of the U.S. PIAAC Technical Report (NCES 2016-036REV).
9/15/2016
NCES 2016036REV U.S. Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012/2014: Main Study and National Supplement Technical Report
U.S. Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012/2014: Main Study and National Supplement Technical Report (NCES-2016-036REV) is a technical manual that describes how the data were collected and processed as well as how to use the data files to conduct statistical analyses. Information is presented on meeting PIAAC consortium requirements, sample design, listing materials and procedures, data collection, reducing the risk of data disclosure, the need for conducting a nonresponse bias analysis, weighting and variance estimation, data preparation and processing, as well as data quality, IRT analyses, and population modeling. The appendices of the Technical Report include basic analysis tables, extended analysis tables; PIAAC 2012/2014 weighted item response rates, NRBA technical notes, and data user guidance.
9/15/2016
NCES 2016144 The Condition of Education 2016
NCES has a mandate to report to Congress on the condition of education by June 1 of each year. The Condition of Education 2016 summarizes important developments and trends in education using the latest available data. The 2016 report presents 43 key indicators on the status and condition of education and are grouped under four main areas: (1) population characteristics, (2) participation in education, (3) elementary and secondary education, and (4) postsecondary education. Also included in the report are 3 Spotlight indicators that provide a more in-depth look at some of the data.
5/26/2016
NCES 2016039REV Skills of U.S. Unemployed, Young, and Older Adults in Sharper Focus: Results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012/2014: First Look
The purpose of this report is to present updated and additional results from the U.S. PIAAC household data collection, based on data collected in 2012 and 2014. PIAAC is an international large-scale study of adult skills and life experience focusing on education and employment that was developed and organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). PIAAC was first conducted in 2011−2012 in the United States and 23 other countries. In the United States, PIAAC was administered to a nationally representative sample of 5,000 adults between the ages of 16 and 65. Similar nationally representative samples of adults were surveyed in each of the 23 other participating countries. In 2013-14, NCES conducted a second round of data collection in the United States to enhance the U.S. PIAAC dataset. Specifically, the second round of data collection added (a) 3,600 adults from three key subgroups of policy interest and (b) 1,200 incarcerated adults in federal and state prisons. The three key subgroups of adults “living in households” that were oversampled were: unemployed adults, young adults (ages 16-34), and older adults (ages 66-74). The expanded national household sample (8,600 adults, combining the first and second rounds) supports more accurate and reliable national estimates of unemployed and young adults and makes possible analyses of older adults.
3/10/2016
NCES 2014046REV Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012 U.S. Restricted Use File (RUF)
The PIAAC U.S. RUF contains individual unit record data including both responses to the background questionnaire and the cognitive assessment from the original U.S. PIAAC data collection completed in 2012. Statistical disclosure control treatments were applied due to confidentiality concerns. In addition to the variables in the PUF (NCES 2014-045REV), the RUF contains detailed versions of variables and additional data collected through U.S. specific questionnaire routing. The RUF can be accessed through a restricted use license agreement with the National Center for Education Statistics. For more details on the RUF, please refer to Appendix J of the U.S. PIAAC Technical Report (NCES 2014-047).

Important note to users:

These original 2012 data have been updated, reweighted, and revised with the release of the PIAAC 2012/2014 restricted-use dataset (NCES 2016-668). That dataset should be used for analyses instead of this original version unless you are seeking to reproduce historic analyses.

Revision Release: May 2015
5/5/2014
NCES 2014045REV Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012 U.S. Public Use File (PUF)
The PIAAC U.S. PUF contains individual unit record data including both responses to the background questionnaire and the cognitive assessment from the original U.S. PIAAC data collection completed in 2012. Statistical disclosure control treatments were applied due to confidentiality concerns. For more details on the PUF, please refer to Appendix J of the U.S. PIAAC Technical Report (NCES 2014-047).

Important notes to users:
  1. These original 2012 data have been updated, reweighted, and revised with the release of the PIAAC 2012/2014 dataset (NCES 2016-667). That dataset should be used for analyses instead of this original version unless you are seeking to reproduce historic analyses.
  2. The OECD identified an error in the derivation of the following variables in the PIAAC original 2012 data files: NFE12JR, NFE12NJR, FNFE12JR, FNFAET12JR and FNFAET12NJR. NCES released revised U.S. public-use and restricted-use files, the background compendia, and the codebook on August 18, 2015. The revised public-use files are available below. IDE (International Data Explorer) was updated with the revised datafile on March 27, 2015. If you have any questions, please contact: holly.xie@ed.gov.


Revision Release: August 2015
5/5/2014
NCES 2014047 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012: U.S. Main Study Technical Report
Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012: U.S. Main Study Technical Report is a technical manual that describes how these data were collected and processed as well as how to use the data files to conduct statistical analyses. Information is presented on meeting PIAAC consortium requirements, sample design, listing of dwelling units, data collection, reducing the risk of data disclosure, the need for conducting a nonresponse bias analysis, weighting and variance estimation, and data preparation and processing. The appendices of the Technical Report include background questionnaire adaptations, data collection reports, interviewer training reports, outreach materials, interviewer debriefing report, basic analysis tables, extended analysis tables, weighted item response rates, technical notes, and data user guidance.

Important note to users:

These original 2012 data have been updated, reweighted, and revised with the release of the PIAAC 2012/2014: Main Study and National Supplement Technical Report (NCES-2016-036). That dataset should be used for analyses instead of this original version unless you are seeking to reproduce historic analyses.
5/5/2014
NCES 2014008 Literacy, Numeracy, and Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments Among U.S. Adults: Results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies 2012
This report presents results of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Results are reported for a representative sample of adults in the United States age 16 to 65 and are compared to an international average of adults in countries/regions that participated in the PIAAC 2012 assessment. The report presents average score results for three separate scales: literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments and percentages of adults performing at different proficiency levels for each scale. Literacy and numeracy results are reported at Below Level 1, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4/5; problem solving in technology-rich environments is reported at Below Level 1, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The report includes results for groups of adults as defined by various demographic characteristics (e.g., gender, age, race/ethnicity, and level of educational attainment) and level of skill use in and outside of work. Overall results in literacy and numeracy are compared to results from previous international assessments.

This report has been updated with PIAAC 2012/2014 data. Please click here to view the latest report.
10/18/2013
NCES 2009071 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey Restricted-Use Data File and User's Guide: 2003
This CD-ROM includes the 2003 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALL) household restricted-use data files, including items from the background questionnaire and cognitive assessment. Both files are in the electronic codebooks. Instructions for installing the data from the electronic codebook are included in the User's Guide.
5/3/2010
NCES 2006073 Findings from the Condition of Education 2006: U.S. Student and Adult Performance on International Assessments of Educational Achievement
This report contains a special analysis that is republished from the Condition of Education 2006 in a booklet form. This analysis presents key findings of recent international assessments that examine the performance of U.S. students in reading, mathematics, science, and the literacy of adults compared with the performance of their peers in other countries.
6/1/2006
NCES 2006614 Education Statistics Quarterly-Vol. 7 Issues 1&2
The Quarterly offers a comprehensive overview of work done across all of NCES. Each issue includes short publications and summaries covering all NCES publications and data products released in a given time period as well as notices about training and funding opportunities. In addition, each issue includes a featured topic with invited commentary, and a note on the topic from NCES.
1/17/2006
NCES 2005117 Highlights From the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALL) - (Revised)
This Issue Brief provides key findings from the 2003 international Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALL), including overall literacy and numeracy performance of U.S. adults ages 16-65 compared to their peers in 5 other countries. Breakdowns of performance by sex and race/ethnicity are also provided.
5/19/2005
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