Educational Research and Innovation: Is Education Losing the Race with Technology? AI’S Progress in Maths and Reading

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are ushering in a large and rapid technological transformation. Understanding how the capabilities of AI relate to human skills and how they develop over time is crucial for understanding this ongoing process. Knowing what AI can do compared to humans can help predict which skills may become obsolete and which skills may become more significant in the years ahead. This knowledge base can help policy makers reshape education systems in ways that best prepare students for the future and provide opportunities to adult learners to renew their skills.

This report follows up an earlier pilot study, collecting expert evaluations of how well AI can do the literacy and numeracy tests of the OECD Survey of Adult Skills of the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). It shows how AI capabilities in these domains have evolved since the pilot assessment in 2016, up until mid-2022 (shortly before the release of ChatGPT). Assessing AI capabilities in literacy and numeracy is indicative of AI’s potential impact on work and life since these skills are relevant in most social contexts and work situations.

The study is part of a comprehensive ongoing project for assessing computer capabilities and their implications for work and education. The AI and the Future of Skills (AIFS) project at OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) uses several information sources to develop measures of AI capabilities that are understandable, comprehensive, repeatable and policy relevant.