New Report on Adult Competencies

Last Tuesday the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released the results of the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), comparing the skill levels of adult workers in 24 developed countries.

According to the study, the U.S. ranked 16th in literacy, 21st in numeracy, and 14th in problem solving using technology. Approximately one in six adults in the U.S. have low literacy skills and nearly one third have weak numeracy skills

More so than any other country in the survey, U.S. adults who come from socioeconomically-disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to have lower skills.  The study also indicated that foreign born residents who have been in the U.S. for more than five years, have literacy skills that are as poor (on average) as more recent immigrants. This isn’t the case in other countries such as Italy and Finland where immigrants make substantial gains during the first five years of residency.

Unlike the 2003 NAAL study, there are no plans to make available state or county level literacy statistics for this study.

To download the study and access related articles and webinar/videos, please go to


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