Friday, January 25, 2008

Follow-up study to the International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALLS)

The Daily (Wednesday January 9, 2008)
Statistics Canada

International Survey of Reading Skills

Canada has very few people who exhibit a really limited capacity in reading skills, according to a new follow-up study to an international literacy survey.

The study suggests that the approach to improving reading levels for people with the lowest proficiency will likely have to vary from individual to individual. That is because their specific reading skills differ widely and thus, the teaching methods will vary according to learners' needs.

The study was based on results from the International Study of Reading Skills (ISRS), conducted in 2005. It was a follow-up survey of the Canadian component of the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALLS) that measured literacy skills among individuals aged 16 to 65 in Canada and six other countries.

The ISRS reassessed about 2,000 Canadians from all literacy level but focused on those whose literacy scores in the IALSS fell into levels 1 or 2, the lowest of five. Level 3 is considered the desired threshold needed by adults to participate fully in the knowledge economy.

The purpose of the ISRS was to describe in greater detail the reading abilities of the least-skilled adult readers in society to better understand their instructional needs.

The 2003 international survey found that about 9 million Canadians aged 16 to 65, or 42% of the working-age population, scored below Level 3 on the prose literacy scale. This proportion had not changed since 1994.

Differences in literacy performance between individuals and regional economies are a concern for Canada because they constrain our ability to compete with nations in which the level of literacy skill is rising rapidly.

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