NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1109] Some comments and

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From: Marie Cora (
Date: Wed Jun 22 2005 - 16:20:53 EDT

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1109] Some comments and questions for the Performance Level Discussion
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The following message is posted for Tom Sticht.

Questions Regarding the NAS/NRC/BOTA Performance Level Report and the
Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL) Report

Recently the OECD, Statistics Canada, and the U.S. NCES released a
of the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL)survey. In this report the 
authors have overstated the extent of adults with literacy problems in 
Canada, the U.S. and other countries because they used a methodology
the new National Academy of Science report on performance levels for
literacy states is too stringent and exaggerates the problem of adult 

The ALL authors claim that people without literacy skills at
Level 3 or above lack skills to cope in contemporary society but the new

NAS/NRC report says that is not demonstrated by their methodology. 

Also, the idea that people at a lower level of literacy, Levels 1 or 2
only perform simple literacy tasks is also wrong according to the
report, because people at the lower levels can perform tasks that are at

higher levels of difficulty but with less than an 80 percent probability

One of my concerns is that by overstating the extent of adult literacy 
problems (e.g., crying "wolf" too many times) policymakers become 
unbelievers to a large extent as do the public in general so funding is
provided for the really poorly literate adults to the extent it is

Given the fairly widespread understanding of the shortcomings of the
and IALS, and given that the National Academies of Sciences, National 
Research Council, Board of Testing and Assessment has released its
on adult literacy performance levels confirming the many technical and 
arbitrary decisions that have gone into the NALS, IALS and now the ALL,
was stunned to read the ALL report that simply  ignored all these
concerns. What bothers me is that these various government agencies are 
widely disseminating what they know are misleading statistics. 

I'm wondering what responsibility the National Academy of Sciences has
addressing the shortcomings of the new ALL and informing policymakers,
agencies,  and the general public about the misleading ALL report. This
particularly important since the ALL report also disseminates faulty
about the U.S. I'm also wondering what the responsibilities of the
community of adult literacy researchers and scientists are in trying to 
bring the misleading statements of the ALL report to the attention of
general public. 

Does anyone from the NAS/NRC/BOTA report on performance levels for adult

literacy have any thoughts about any of this?

Quoting Marie Cora <>:

> Hi Tom,
> I'm writing to ask you to post a question or 2 to the NAS discussion.
> We've had 2 days of email glitches that have thrown a wrench into the
> discussion, and I'm fretting a bit now about it getting up and going.

> If you wouldn't mind (and have the time) to post even just one
> that would be so wonderful.  I would really appreciate it.
> Thanks,
> marie

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