PIAAC Results section image — a diversified group of people in varying age groups, careers and education levels PIAAC Results section image — a diversified group of people in varying age groups, careers and education levels

Highlights of PIAAC 2017 U.S. Results

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a cyclical, large-scale study of adult cognitive skills and life experiences developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and, in the United States, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). See What PIAAC Is

In 2017, the third round of PIAAC data collection in the United States took place. The results of the first round of U.S. PIAAC data collection in 2012 and the second round of data collection in 2014 (officially known as the National Supplement to the Main Study) are combined, by design, into one data point for 2012/14. The results for 2017 highlighted in this report are compared to 2012/14 results. In the tables and figures the symbol (*) indicates that 2012/14 scores or percentages are statistically different from the 2017 results.

While both the 2014 supplement and the 2017 data collection surveyed U.S. adults age 16 to 74, the focus of this report is on the traditional work force age range of 16 to 65. Results are presented for the major variables of gender, age, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, current employment status, nativity, and self-reported health status.

The proficiency-level figures display some combined levels so that users can readily see broad patterns in the data. For example, in literacy and numeracy, the top category combines Levels 3, 4, and 5. In digital problem solving, the top category combines Levels 2 and 3. Links below each of the figures allow users to access full data tables in the International Data Explorer (IDE), which provide results for all response categories for each variable and all the discrete PIAAC proficiency levels.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, overall average scores for U.S. adults were not measurably different in literacy, numeracy, or digital problem solving.

Figure 1-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65: 2012/14 and 2017

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, there were no statistically significant changes in the percentages of adults performing at each proficiency level in any of the three PIAAC domains. The percentages of U.S. adults performing at the lowest levels (i.e., Level 1 or below in literacy and numeracy and below Level 1 in digital problem solving) in 2017 were 19 percent in literacy, 29 percent in numeracy, and 24 percent in digital problem solving. The percentages performing at the highest levels (i.e., Level 3 or above in literacy and numeracy and Level 2 or above in digital problem solving) in 2017 were 48 percent in literacy, 37 percent in numeracy, and 38 percent in digital problem solving.

Figure 1-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving: 2012/14 and 2017

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

A brief look at demographics

The proportions of male and female U.S. adults remained steady from 2012/14 to 2017, with 49 percent males and 51 percent females.

Table 2-A. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by gender: 2012/14 and 2017
Male 49 51
Female 49 51

NOTE: The percentages shown in the table are based on adults who responded to the literacy assessment. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

The average score for U.S. adult males in numeracy decreased between 2012/14 and 2017, from 265 to 259. Looking at performance gaps between males and females in 2017, one finds males scored higher than females in numeracy (259 compared to 251). The gender gap was smaller in 2017 than in 2012/14 (8 vs. 15 points). There were no statistically significant gender gaps in literacy or digital problem solving scores in 2017 or 2012/14.

Figure 2-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by gender: 2012/14 and 2017

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* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, there were no statistically significant changes in the percentages of adults performing at each proficiency level across all three domains for either gender.

Comparing the percentages of males and females performing at the various combined proficiency levels in 2017 reveals no statistically significant differences in literacy. In both numeracy and digital problem solving, there were higher percentages of males than females performing at the highest proficiency levels in 2017 (i.e., Level 3 or above in numeracy and Level 2 or above in digital problem solving). In addition, higher percentages of females than males performed at Level 2 in numeracy and at Level 1 in digital problem solving.

Figure 2-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving, by gender: 2012/14 and 2017

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NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

A brief look at demographics

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the percentages of U.S. adults within the age groups of 16 to 24 and 55 to 65 increased, but the percentage decreased for adults age 45 to 54.

Table 3-A. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by age intervals: 2012/14 and 2017
16–24 18 20
25–34 20 20
35–44 20 19
45–54 21 20
55–65 20 22

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: The percentages shown in the table are based on adults who responded to the literacy assessment. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the only measurable change in average scores for U.S. adults across the age groups and domains was for adults age 35 to 44: they scored higher in digital problem solving in 2017 compared to 2012/14.

Comparing 2017 average scores among the age groups reveals that adults age 25 to 34 scored higher in literacy than all other age groups except for the group of adults age 35 to 44. In numeracy, adults age 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 scored higher on average than the two oldest age groups. Digital problem solving followed the same pattern as numeracy, but with adults age 16 to 24 also scoring higher than the two oldest age groups.

Figure 3-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by age intervals: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, there were no statistically significant changes in the percentages performing at each proficiency level across all three domains for any of the age groups.

Comparing the percentages within the age groups performing at the various combined proficiency levels in 2017 reveals that a higher percentage of adults age 25 to 34 performed at Level 3 or above in literacy compared to the two oldest age groups. In numeracy, higher percentages of adults age 25 to 34, 35 to 44, and 45 to 54 performed at Level 3 or above compared to adults age 55 to 65 in 2017. In digital problem solving, a lower percentage of adults age 55 to 65 performed at Level 2 or above compared to all other age groups in 2017.

Figure 3-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving, by age intervals: 2012/14 and 2017

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

A brief look at demographics

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the percentage of White U.S. adults decreased from 65 to 63 percent, with no significant changes in the percentages of adults in the other racial/ethnic groups.

Table 4-A. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by race/ethnicity: 2012/14 and 2017
White 65 63
Black 13 13
Hispanic 15 15
Other 7 9

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: Black includes African American, and Hispanic includes Latino. Race categories exclude Hispanic origin. The percentages shown in the table are based on adults who responded to the literacy assessment. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the only measurable changes in average scores were observed for Hispanic adults, who scored higher in both literacy and digital problem solving in 2017 compared to 2012/14, and for adults in the Other race/ethnicity category, who also scored higher in digital problem solving in 2017 compared to 2012/14.

Significant performance gaps exist between White adults and all other race/ethnicity categories. The White–Black score gaps were large across literacy (41 points), numeracy (53 points), and digital problem solving (32 points) in 2017 (similar to the gaps in 2012/14). There were measurable changes in the White–Hispanic gaps in two of the three subject areas (closing from 49 to 31 points in literacy and from 26 to 10 points in digital problem solving). The White–Hispanic gap in numeracy showed a numeric, but not statistically different, change from 50 to 41 points. In addition, while there was a 14-point White–Other score gap in digital problem solving in 2012/14, there was no measurable difference in scores in 2017 (both with average scores of 279).

Figure 4-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by race/ethnicity: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Black includes African American, and Hispanic includes Latino. Race categories exclude Hispanic origin. The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the percentages of Hispanic adults performing at Level 1 or below decreased in literacy from 41 to 31 percent, and increased at Level 2 or above in digital problem solving from 24 to 35 percent. The percentage of White adults who performed at Level 1 or below in numeracy increased over the same period of time from 17 to 20 percent. The percentage of adults in the Other race/ethnicity category performing at Level 2 or above in digital problem solving increased from 30 to 43 percent between 2012/14 and 2017.

Figure 4-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving, by race/ethnicity: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Black includes African American, and Hispanic includes Latino. Race categories exclude Hispanic origin. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

A brief look at demographics

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the percentage of U.S. adults with less than a high school education decreased from 14 to 12 percent, and the percentage with more than a high school education increased from 45 to 48 percent.

Table 5-A. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by level of educational attainment: 2012/14 and 2017
More than high school 45 48
High school 41 40
Less than high school 14 12

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: Respondents were asked to identify the highest level of education they have completed. “Less than high school” includes adults who have not attained a high school diploma or credential, while “high school” includes adults who have attained at least a high school diploma or credential but have not yet earned an associate’s degree. “More than high school” includes adults who have attained at least an associate’s degree or higher level of education. The percentages shown in the table are based on adults who responded to the literacy assessment. Detail may not sum to totals because the response category “not definable” is not shown. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the average score for U.S. adults with less than a high school education increased in literacy, while for adults with a high school education average scores decreased in both literacy and numeracy. In literacy, the score gap between adults with more than a high school education and those with less than a high school education decreased from 65 points in 2012/14 to 52 points in 2017, and the score gap between adults with a high school education and those with less than a high school education decreased from 34 points in 2012/14 to 20 points in 2017.

Comparing the 2017 average scores across the levels of educational attainment shows that adults attaining higher education levels scored higher than those with lower education levels in both literacy and numeracy: that is, adults with more than a high school education scored higher than those with a high school education, who in turn scored higher than adults with less than a high school education. However, in digital problem solving the average score for adults with a high school education was not measurably different from their peers with less than a high school education.

Figure 5-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by level of educational attainment: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Respondents were asked to identify the highest level of education they have completed. “Less than high school” includes adults who have not attained a high school diploma or credential, while “high school” includes adults who have attained at least a high school diploma or credential but have not yet earned an associate’s degree. “More than high school” includes adults who have attained at least an associate’s degree or higher level of education. The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the percentages of adults with only a high school education performing at Level 1 or below increased in both literacy and numeracy.

Figure 5-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving, by level of educational attainment: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Respondents were asked to identify the highest level of education they have completed. “Less than high school” includes adults who have not attained a high school diploma or credential, while “high school” includes adults who have attained at least a high school diploma or credential but have not yet earned an associate’s degree. “More than high school” includes adults who have attained at least an associate’s degree or higher level of education. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

A brief look at demographics

Between 2012/14 and 2017, there was an increase in the percentage of employed U.S. adults from 74 to 77 percent, with a related decrease in the percentage of unemployed from 7 to 4 percent over the same time frame. Readers should note that adults in the “unemployed” category were those who indicated that they were without work but currently available for work, and were actively seeking paid work. Adults in the “out of labor force” category were those not currently seeking paid work (e.g., because of study, household duties, or sickness/disability).

Table 6-A. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by current employment status: 2012/14 and 2017
Employed 74 77
Unemployed 7 4
Out of labor force 19 19

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: The percentages shown in the table are based on adults who responded to the literacy assessment. Detail may not sum to totals because the response categories “not known,” “valid skip,” and “not stated or inferred” are not shown. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, while there were no statistically significant changes in the average scores for employed U.S. adults in any of the three PIAAC domains, unemployed adults posted gains in both literacy and numeracy and adults who were out of the labor force scored lower in digital problem solving in 2017 compared to 2012/14.

Figure 6-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by current employment status: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, there were decreases in the percentages of unemployed adults performing at Level 1 or below in both literacy and numeracy. In addition, the percentage of unemployed adults who performed at Level 3 or above in numeracy increased in 2017 compared to 2012/14.

Figure 6-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving, by current employment status: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

A brief look at demographics

Between 2012/14 and 2017, there were no statistically significant changes in the percentages of U.S. adults indicating where they were born.

Table 7-A. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by nativity: 2012/14 and 2017
Native born 85 86
Non-native born 15 14

NOTE: Respondents were asked whether they were born in the United States. “Native born” refers to those who were born in the United States, while “non-native born” refers to those who were not. The percentages shown in the table are based on adults who responded to the literacy assessment. Detail may not sum to totals because the response categories “valid skip” and “not stated or inferred” are not shown. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, non-native born U.S. adults scored higher in both literacy and digital problem solving, while native born U.S. adults showed no statistically significant changes in average scores across all three domains over the same time frame.

Figure 7-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by nativity: 2012/14 and 2017

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* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Respondents were asked whether they were born in the United States. “Native born” refers to those who were born in the United States, while “non-native born” refers to those who were not. The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, a higher percentage of native born U.S. adults performed at Level 1 or below in literacy in 2017, while a lower percentage of non-native born adults performed at Level 1 or below in 2017. In numeracy, there were no statistically significant changes between 2012/14 and 2017 for either group across all proficiency levels. In digital problem solving, a higher percentage of non-native born U.S. adults performed at the higher proficiency levels (Level 2 or above) in 2017 compared to 2012/14.

Figure 7-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving, by nativity: 2012/14 and 2017

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* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Respondents were asked whether they were born in the United States. “Native born” refers to those who were born in the United States, while “non-native born” refers to those who were not. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

A brief look at demographics

Between 2012/14 and 2017, the percentage of U.S. adults reporting “fair” or “poor” health increased from 15 to 17 percent. Adults reporting “excellent” or “very good” health decreased from 57 to 54 percent over the same period.

Table 8-A. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by self-reported health status: 2012/14 and 2017
Excellent or very good 57 54
Good 28 29
Fair or poor 15 17

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: Respondents were asked to indicate the status of their health, choosing from the choices of “excellent,” “very good,” “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” The percentages shown in the table are based on adults who responded to the literacy assessment. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Health is associated with performance across literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving: U.S. adults reporting higher levels of health scored on average higher than adults with lower levels of health in all three PIAAC domains. Between 2012/14 and 2017, the average score for U.S. adults with fair or poor health increased in both literacy and numeracy.

Figure 8-A. Average scores on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving for U.S. adults age 16 to 65, by self-reported health status: 2012/14 and 2017

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2017.

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Respondents were asked to indicate the status of their health, choosing from the choices of “excellent,” “very good,” “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” The PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving scales range from 0 to 500. Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Between 2012/14 and 2017, there were no statistically significant changes in the percentages performing at each proficiency level across all three domains for any of the health status categories.

Comparing the percentages in the various health status categories performing at the various combined proficiency levels in 2017 reveals that a smaller percentage of U.S. adults reporting fair or poor health performed at Level 3 or above in literacy and numeracy, and at Level 2 or above in digital problem solving compared to their peers reporting excellent or very good health. Also, a smaller percentage of adults with excellent or very good health performed at Level 1 or below in literacy and numeracy, and below Level 1 in digital problem solving compared to their peers reporting fair or poor health.

Figure 8-B. Percentage distribution of U.S. adults age 16 to 65 at selected levels of proficiency on PIAAC literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving, by self-reported health status: 2012/14 and 2017

NOTE: LIT = Literacy. NUM = Numeracy. DPS = Digital problem solving. Respondents were asked to indicate the status of their health, choosing from the choices of “excellent,” “very good,” “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Only statistically significant differences between years are marked with an asterisk. Users may explore other differences via the full data links and using the International Data Explorer tools. In literacy and numeracy, higher, middle, and lower performance are denoted by “Level 3 or above,” “Level 2,” and “Level 1 or below,” respectively. In digital problem solving, these are denoted by “Level 2 or above,” “Level 1,” and “Below level 1.”

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

NOTES AND SOURCES

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. PIAAC 2017, U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014.

Suggested citation: Highlights of the 2017 U.S. PIAAC Results Web Report (NCES 2020-777). U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Available at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/piaac/current_results.asp.