Published Online:

Literacy Performance Levels

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Findings from the first international study of adult literacy show the United States falling roughly in the middle range for what is termed "document literacy"--the ability to decipher tables, schedules, and maps--among adults ages 16 to 65. The following tables explain the lowest level for document literacy, 1, and the highest, 5, followed by the percentage of adults in each country performing at that level.

Document Level 1

Most of the tasks at this level require the reader to find a piece of information. Any distracting information, if present, would be printed far away from the correct answer. Some tasks may direct the reader to enter personal information onto a form.

     Canada                    18.2
     Germany                    9.0
     Netherlands               10.1
     Poland                    45.4
     Sweden                     6.2
     Switzerland (French)      16.2
     Switzerland (German)      18.1
     United States             23.7

Document Level 5

Tasks at this level require the reader to search through complex displays of information that contain multiple distractions to make high-level inferences, process conditional information, or use specialized knowledge.

     Canada                     5.4
     Germany                    1.9
     Netherlands                1.4
     Poland                     0.4
     Sweden                     7.7
     Switzerland (French)       1.9
     Switzerland (German)       1.9
     United States              3.7

Web Only

Commenting temporarily disabled due to scheduled maintenance. Check back soon.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories