A new design for a new era
As the largest and most innovative international assessment of adults, PIAAC marks an inflection point in the evolution of large-scale comparative assessments. PIAAC grew from the foundation laid by surveys that preceded it, and introduced innovations that have shifted the way we conceive and implement large-scale assessments. As the first fully computer-delivered survey of adults, those innovations included: a comprehensive assessment design involving multistage adaptive testing; development of an open-source platform capable of delivering both cognitive measures and nationally-specific background questionnaires; automated scoring of open-ended items across more than 50 languages; enhanced cognitive measures that included electronic texts and interactive stimuli; the inclusion of new item types and response modes; and the use of log file and process data to interpret results. This paper discusses each of these innovations along with the development of data products and dissemination activities that have extended the utility of the survey, providing today’s policy makers with information about the extent to which adults possess the critical skills required for both their own success and the health and vibrancy of societies around the world. As this paper suggests, the innovations introduced via PIAAC broadened the relevance and utility of the survey along with the accuracy and validity of the data, strengthening the foundation upon which future surveys can continue to build.