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Title:  How Much Literacy is Enough? Issues in Defining and Reporting Performance Standards for the National Assessment of Adult Literacy
Description: This paper identifies issues in defining and reporting performance standards for the 2002 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL). The paper describes a continuum of conceptualizations of performance standards for adult literacy extending from “technical” conceptions of performance standards, as used in the psychometric literature, to “policy/programmatic” conceptions of adult literacy performance standards, as defined in educational goals, accountability systems, and in adult literacy program curricula, to “popular” conceptions of adult literacy performance standards as expressed in everyday discourse and in the news media. The paper concludes that gaps between technical, policy/programmatic, and popular conceptions of adult literacy performance standards can be bridged by (1) emphasizing applications of NAAL results to profile populations in need of literacy education services and avoiding misapplications of the results for adult education program accountability; (2) clarifying the differences between literacy constructs and skills measured by the NAAL and those measured by standardized tests (CASAS, TABE, etc.) used in accountability systems; and, (3) making connections and clarifying differences between NAAL literacy definitions and performance levels and adult literacy program curricular content and content standards.
Online Availability:
Cover Date: March 2000
Web Release: March 29, 2000
Print Release:
Publication #: NCES 200007
General Ordering Information
Center/Program: NCES
Type of Product: Working Paper
  Working Papers provide preliminary analysis of substantive, technical, and methodological issues. They are works in progress that are presented to promote the sharing of valuable work experience and knowledge. These papers have not undergone a rigorous review for consistency with NCES standards.
Survey/Program Areas: National Assessments of Adult Literacy (NAAL)
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