PIAAC Results

Achievement scales
Scale creation

The achievement scales were created using plausible values; these were drawn from a posteriori distribution by combining the IRT scaling of the cognitive items with a latent regression model using information from the BQ. Each adult respondent was assigned 10 plausible values in each of the achievement scales.

 
List of achievement scales

An overall achievement scale (literacy, numeracy, and problems solving in technology-rich environments) and separate scales for each of these three subdomains.

Scale scores range from 0 to 500.

Overall achievement and results for literacy and numeracy are usually reported in reference to the following 7 international

benchmarks:

  • Below level 1 (0–175)
  • Level 1 (176–225)
  • Level 2 ( 226–275)
  • Level 3 (276–325)
  • Level 4 (326–375)
  • Level 5 (376–500)

As there were fewer problem-solving items (14 items) than items from the other domains (2 x 76 items), and the problem-solving items were more difficult, only 4 levels were defined for this domain:

  • Below Level 1 (0–240)
  • Level 1 (241–290)
  • Level 2 (291–340)
  • Level 3 (341–500)
Background scales
Scale creation

The database contains several scales computed using subsets of background questions. Scales were calculated using item response theory (IRT). In addition, categorical variables were created using these scales by classifying respondents into quintiles.

 
List of background scales

ICT at home (7 items)

  • Using e-mail
  • Using Internet
  • Using spreadsheets
  • Using word processors
  • Conducting transactions on line
  • Using programming language
  • Participating in online discussions (conferences, chats)

 

ICT at work (7 items)

  • Using e-mail
  • Using Internet
  • Using spreadsheets
  • Using word processors
  • Conducting transactions on line
  • Using programming language
  • Participating in online discussions (conferences, chats)

 

Influence (7 items)

  • Instructing
  • Teaching or training people
  • Making speeches or presentations
  • Advising people
  • Planning others’ activities
  • Persuading or influencing others
  • Negotiating

 

Learning at work (3 items)

  • Learning new things from supervisors or co-workers
  • Learning-by-doing
  • Keeping up-to-date with new products or services.

 

Numeracy at home (6 items)

  • Calculating prices, costs or budgets
  • Using fractions, decimals, or percentages
  • Using calculators
  • Preparing graphs or tables
  • Using algebra or formulas
  • Using advanced math or statistics

 

Numeracy at work (6 items)

  • Calculating prices, costs or budgets
  • Using fractions, decimals, or percentages
  • Using calculators
  • Preparing graphs or tables
  • Using algebra or formulas
  • Using advanced math or statistics

 

Planning (3 items)

  • How often - Planning own activities
  • How often - Planning others’ activities
  • How often - Organizing own time

 

Reading at home (8 items)

  • Reading directions or instructions
  • Reading letters, memos, or  e-mail
  • Reading newspapers or magazines
  • Reading professional journals or publications
  • Reading books
  • Reading manuals or reference materials
  • Reading financial statements
  • Reading diagrams, maps, or schematics

 

Reading at work (8 items)

  • Reading directions, or instructions
  • Reading letters, memos, or  e-mail
  • Reading newspapers or magazines
  • Reading professional journals or publications
  • Reading books
  • Reading manuals or reference materials
  • Reading financial statements
  • Reading diagrams, maps, or schematics

 

Readiness to learn (6 items)

  • Learning strategies - Relate new ideas into real life
  • Learning strategies - Like learning new things
  • Learning strategies - Attribute something new
  • Learning strategies - Get to the bottom of difficult things
  • Learning strategies - Figure out how different ideas fit together
  • Learning strategies - Looking for additional information

 

Task discretion (4 items)

  • Work flexibility - Sequence of tasks
  • Work flexibility - How to do the work
  • Work flexibility - Speed of work
  • Work flexibility - Working hours

 

Writing at home (4 items)

  • Write letters, memos, or e-mail
  • Write articles
  • Write reports
  • Fill in forms

 

Writing at work (4 items)

  • Write letters, memos, or e-mail
  • Write articles
  • Write reports
  • Fill in forms

 

Overview of key study results

Key findings

  • A wide variation in the proficiency of the adult population exists between countries/economies.
  • In almost all countries, a significant proportion of the population has low skills.
  • In nearly all countries, at least 10% of adults lack the most elementary computer skills.
  • The extent of inequality in the distribution of proficiency also varies.
  • High performance and greater equality in performance tend to go together.
  • For younger cohorts, there is a close relationship between their proficiency as measured in PIAAC and their performance in PISA.
  • Adults with high levels of literacy (level 4/5) report positive social outcomes more frequently than do those with low levels (level 1 or below) of literacy or numeracy.
  • Information-processing skills are closely related to socio-demographic characteristics such as educational attainment, age, parental education, gender, and immigration background.

 

Proficiency and educational attainment

  • Adults with higher levels of education tend to have higher proficiency.
  • There are considerable differences between countries in the average literacy proficiency of adults with educational qualifications at similar levels.

 

Proficiency and age

  • On average, proficiency is highest among adults aged around thirty and is lowest among adults aged 60–65.
  • Proficiency tends to increase with age between the ages of 16 and 30–34 years.
  • There are considerable variations in the age proficiency profiles between countries; these likely reflect the different historical patterns of educational expansion over time as well as changes in educational policies and quality between and within countries.
  • The observed age-proficiency profiles are consistent with evidence regarding loss of cognitive ability with increasing age.

 

Proficiency and immigration background

  • In most, though not all, countries, native-born adults tend to score higher in all domains assessed than do adults born in a country other than their country of residence.
  • With a few exceptions, immigrants who have lived in their country of residence for 5 years or more tend to score better than recent immigrants.

 

Proficiency and parental education

  • In all countries, there is a positive relationship between proficiency in literacy and numeracy and the educational attainment of parents.
  • The strength of the relationship varies considerably between countries.

 

Proficiency and training

  • Access to education and training, both general and job-related, is positively related to literacy proficiency.
  • Adults with higher levels of literacy tend to have higher participation rates.
  • Norway and New Zealand stand out as countries in which access by adults with low levels of literacy is highest.

 

The intensity of use of information-processing skills

  • The intensity of use of information-processing skills varies between countries.
  • The intensity of use of information-processing skills is related to individual and firm characteristics such as proficiency in literacy and numeracy, firm size and the nature of work organization.
  • Countries rank differently on the two dimensions of skills proficiency and skills use.
  • The intensity of reading at work is closely related to labor productivity job satisfaction and wages.

 

Skills proficiency and labor market and social outcomes

  • Better-skilled workers are more likely to be employed (in some countries), earn higher wages (in most countries), and have better social outcomes (in all countries).
  • Workers who use their skills more frequently are also more likely to earn higher wages.
  • Workers are mismatched if their skills do not match a job’s requirements.
  • A large percentage of workers are mismatched by qualifications, literacy proficiency, or field-of-study.
  • Only workers mismatched by qualifications suffer a wage penalty.
Sources - Report(s) of results