Reading & Literacy What the Research Says

Global Test Shows America’s Literacy, Numeracy Problems

November 26, 2019 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The 2017 results of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies finds that America’s adult workforce is no more skillful in reading, math, or digital problem-solving than it was five years ago, even though more students are graduating from high school before entering the workforce.

Every three years, the PIAAC measures those skills of “working age” adults, 16 to 65, in 38 countries. It was developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In both math and digital problem-solving skills, U.S. adults scored significantly below the international average.

In the United States, scores in all three domains have been statistically flat since 2014, and more than half of adults scored at or below the test’s “basic” Level 1 in all three areas. For example, basic literacy would mean an adult could read well enough to recognize common vocabulary and enter his or her personal information into an online form—but not well enough to identify information within a document or compare and contrast information in different texts.

While white and black adults saw no change, Hispanic adults improved in both literacy and digital problem-solving, mirroring similar gains among Hispanic students on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

A version of this article appeared in the November 27, 2019 edition of Education Week as Global Test Shows America’s Literacy, Numeracy Problems

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Reading & Literacy Opinion Students Are Struggling With Literacy. The Public Library Can Help
An early-childhood educator makes the case for partnering schools with local libraries to improve students’ reading and writing skills.
Marjeta Bejdo
5 min read
Tree growing from a stack of books. Concept art of education, learning, reading, wisdom, study, school and imagination
Jorm Sangsorn/iStock
Reading & Literacy Q&A Can Taylor Swift Get Students to Love Poetry?
A college professor will train middle and high school teachers on how to use Swift's lyrics in their curriculum.
8 min read
Singer Taylor Swift performs on stage during her Eras Tour at the Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on June 7, 2024.
Taylor Swift performs on stage during her Eras Tour at the Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on June 7, 2024.
Jane Barlow/PA via AP
Reading & Literacy Photos Drama and Delight: The Faces of the National Spelling Bee
The 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee came down to a high-stakes spell-off. Here's a look at the faces behind the event.
1 min read
Shrey Parikh, 12, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., reacts to a fellow competitor's word during the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, in Oxon Hill, Md., on May 30, 2024.
Shrey Parikh, 12, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., reacts to a fellow competitor's word during the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, in Oxon Hill, Md., on May 30, 2024.
Nathan Howard/AP