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How to Use the PIAAC Results Portal

What kind of information does the PIAAC Results Portal provide?

Average scores and proficiency levels in each of the PIAAC domains for the selected population sample and variable. Results can be exported to an Excel file, which you can save or print.

How do I use the PIAAC Results Portal?

  1. Open the sidebar by clicking on "<< Make Selections." (If you want to keep the list of options open, click on the gray "Menu" or pin icon in the upper corner of the left sidebar.)
  2. Select the population of interest to you by using the drop-down menu in the "Select Sample" field at the top of the sidebar. The default sample is "Household 16-65 (International)." Results for all PIAAC countries are available for the following samples: Household 16-65 (International), Household 16-34 (International), and Household Unemployed 16-65 (International).
    NOTE: Each time you select a new sample, the Results Portal defaults to the "All adults" group and the variable that you have previously chosen is deselected.
  3. Select the specific variable of interest under by clicking on the variable name. Variables are grouped by category. The default variable is "All adults."
    NOTE: You can select only one variable at a time.
  4. Tailor the Results that appear in the main window after you select a variable by clicking the buttons in the Results menu bar. By default, Average Score results are shown for the U.S. and PIAAC international average. However, you can select to see results for the Proficiency Level percentages by clicking the button next to that option in the menu bar. You can view results for each of the available PIAAC countries by checking the "Include PIAAC countries" box in the menu bar, when available. (To see comparisons of only the United States and the international average again, deselect "Include PIAAC Countries" in menu bar.)
    NOTE: If the Prison sample is selected, results will show U.S. Household and U.S. Prison by default. For some variables and samples, no PIAAC international average is available.
  5. Change the Results from one domain to the next by clicking on the specific PIAAC domain name (literacy, numeracy, or problem-solving) in the boxes under the Results menu bar.
  6. Click on "<< Previous" or "Next >>" on the right above the menu bar to browse through all of the variables in the order that they are displayed in the side bar.
  7. Print results directly from your browser (click File, then Print) or click on the green Excel icon at the top right of the menu bar to save the selected results on your computer. If you click on the Excel icon, you will be prompted to create an Excel file which will contain all of the results currently accessible in the Results window. The Excel file will include
    • both the average scores and percentages by proficiency levels (if available);
    • results for each PIAAC domain — literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments (if applicable); and
    • results for all PIAAC countries (for those samples with international comparison) and/or the U.S. only (with the international average when available).

Important Things to Remember About the PIAAC Results Portal

  • The figures and tables produce statistics for only one variable at a time. Please note that depending on data selected and download speeds, figures may take 5-10 seconds to load.
  • Only tables can be exported using the Excel function; figures will not be exported.
  • Not every performance measure is available for every variable (e.g., only proficiency levels are available for the Skill Use variables).
  • When the response rate for a jurisdiction is below 50 percent for a variable, the data for that variable are not reported. When the response rate is between 50 and 85 percent, the result includes a flag. Results are suppressed when a cell includes fewer than 60 cases.
  • The Skill Use variables were developed in relationship to a domain, so statistics for each Skills Use variable are only available for that related domain (e.g., statistics for reading skill are only available for the literacy domain).
  • Note that some variables were collected in the U.S. only, so there will not be an international average or comparison to other countries available for those variables (e.g., the tables and figures for race/ethnicity, which is a "U.S. only" variable). Additionally, because the prison background questionnaire was tailored to address the needs and experiences of incarcerated adults, some variables were only collected for the Prison sample. Therefore, there will not be a comparison to Household available for those variables (e.g., the tables and figures for prior incarceration experience, which is a "Prison only" variable).
  • Significant differences are only shown for average scores, comparing the U.S. average score to other participating jurisdictions (or the U.S. Household average score to the U.S. prison). To see whether other estimates are significantly different, consult the PIAAC International Data Explorer (IDE).

Questions and Answers About the Study Results

How and why did the PIAAC Results Portal change? Did the results change?

The PIAAC Results Portal was updated using data with the 2014 U.S. PIAAC National Supplement—the second round of PIAAC data collection in the United States. These data were combined with the original 2012 PIAAC data collection to provide enhanced and updated results.

Conducted from August 2013 through April 2014, the National Supplement household data collection surveyed 3,660 adults from three key U.S. subgroups of interest: unemployed adults (age 16 to 65), young adults (age 16 to 34), and older adults (age 66 to 74). In addition to the household data collection (the data from which were added to the Portal in March 2106), the National Supplement also surveyed 1,319 adult inmates (age 16 to 74) detained in federal and state prisons in the United States (these data were added to the Portal in November 2016).

The second round of U.S. PIAAC household data collection repeated the same procedures, instruments, and assessments that were used for the first round of data collection (called the "2012 PIAAC Main Study") in the same sampled areas (or primary sampling units). However, while the first round collected data from a nationally representative sample of 5,010 adults, the second round collected data from 3,660 adults from only the three targeted (or oversampled) subgroups of interest.

Together, the two rounds of U.S. PIAAC household data collection provide a nationally representative sample of 8,670 noninstitutionalized adults in the United States between the ages of 16 and 74. It is important to note, however, that the second round of data are, by design, an oversample to supplement the first round of data collection and, hence, can only be used together with the first round of data.

It should also be noted that some countries previously included in the Results Portal are no longer available. This has occurred because those countries did not grant the right of publishing their data to other participating PIAAC jurisdictions. Therefore, Australia is no longer included in the PIAAC Results Portal or reports based on the combined 2012/2014 U.S. household data. In addition, the PIAAC Results Portal contains the publicly released data for Canada. Different from the data available from the OECD IDE, the Canadian public use data has a few variables (mainly those related to income and education level) and cases suppressed to protect the privacy of respondents and avoid identifying individuals. For more information on which variables have been suppressed, please refer to the PIAAC Technical Report (2016).

What are the different household samples available in the Results Portal?

There are five household samples available in the Results Portal. It is important to keep in mind that these samples are not mutually exclusive. The default sample is the one reported previously for PIAAC — adults ages 16-65 — and results for the United States can be compared with the other jurisdictions that participated in PIAAC and that allowed the United States to publish their data on this website.

There are two additional sub-samples with international data: the sample of younger adults ages 16-34 and unemployed adults ages 16-65. These samples are provided here because the U.S. National Supplement was conducted to allow for more in-depth analysis of the cognitive and workplace skills of these populations. The Results Portal also contains two other household samples that are unique to the U.S. supplemental study: adults ages 66-74 and all adults ages 16-74.

Results for these samples cannot be compared to other jurisdictions because only the U.S. sampled adults in the age range of 66-74. Finally, the Results Portal also contains the U.S. Prison sample ages 16-74 (but note that no 16- or 17-year-olds are in the prison sample), which can only be compared with the U.S. household sample of adults ages 16-74.

What variables are available in the Results Portal?

The Results Portal provides a selection of variables from PIAAC. For a complete set of variables, consult the PIAAC IDE. For each of the household samples, the following categories of variables are available and are defined as shown below:

    Demographic groups
  • The variables in this category provide results by adults' age, gender, race/ethnicity, whether they were born in the United States, and parental education. Race/ethnicity and born in the U.S. are U.S.-only variables. For the race/ethnicity variable, Black includes African American, and Hispanic includes Latino. Race categories exclude Hispanic origin.
  • The variables in this category provide results based on adults' responses to questions about their highest level of educational attainment and their participation in various educational activities in the last year.
  • The variables in this category provide results based on adults' responses to questions about their recent employment status as either employed, unemployed, or out of the labor force. The category is then further disaggregated to show demographic and other variables for employed and unemployed adults. Please note that occupation, industry of employment, and level of gross pay are not available for unemployed adults.
    Skill Use
  • The variables in this category provide results by adults' responses to questions about the reading, writing, numeracy, information communication technology (ICT), and problem-solving skills they have used at home and work. Please note that results are available for skills use indices at work for the sample of unemployed adults because the question asked adults about their work experiences within the last year; therefore, unemployed adults who held a job within a year were able to respond and their results are provided on this website.
    Health and Civic Participation
  • The variables in this category provide results by adults' responses to questions about their health status and civic engagement (e.g., participated in volunteer work for a political party or other non-profit organization).

How are the variables available for the prison sample different from the household variables?

In some ways they are identical, such as basic demographics, but most of the variables are focused on the specific context relevant to incarcerated adults. For example, categories such as "Education in Prison" and "Non-academic Classes in Prison" examine learning activities during the participants' current prison terms. For a full discussion of the prison sample variables, see the U.S. PIAAC 2012/2014: Main Study and National Supplement Technical Report.

Users of the Results Portal should be aware that not all prisoners responded to all questions. For example, only incarcerated adults who did not currently have a prison job responded to the question about being on a waiting list to start a prison job. Please see the NOTE under each figure for an explanation for each variable, where applicable.

Why are some variables not reported for some samples?

When results cannot be reported for multiple categories within a variable for a particular sample, the results are not included. For example, "Profile on unemployed" is not available for the sample of adults ages 66-74 because most of that population is categorized as "out of the labor force." Results are suppressed in the PIAAC Results Portal according to the same rules used in the PIAAC IDE.