The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a cyclical, large-scale study that was developed under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the United States, this household 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 administered either in English or Spanish. Data collection for the PIAAC Field Test was conducted in 2010, and the Main Study data collection began in August 2011 and finished in April 2012. NCES's "First Look" report of the PIAAC data and the OECD's international PIAAC reports were released in October 2013.
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