STEP Results

Achievement and test scales

The STEP achievement scales were created using plausible values drawn from a posteriori distribution by combining the item response theory (IRT) scaling of the cognitive items with a latent regression model using information from the background questionnaire. Each respondent was assigned 10 plausible values in each of the achievement scales.



The STEP scale scores have the same range, and the description of the underlying skills along the scale is the same, as for PIAAC. The literacy proficiency was modeled using IRT, in a scale that ranges from 0 to 500.

The 500-point scale is divided into 6 levels, each referring to a level of proficiency in terms of the tasks that an individual should be able to do at that point on the scale:

  • 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)
Overview of key study results
  • Adults who participated in early childhood education as children performed better on the reading literacy assessment and were more likely to have started primary education at the right age than those who did not participate.
  • Adult use of foundational skills, such as numeracy, has been increasing, but there were differences in the assessment of these skills between males and females.
  • Although the socioeconomic status of a child’s parents seems to relate to his or her perceived levels of socio-emotional skills, the educational system may also have an important role to play.
  • Because solid foundational and socio-emotional skills are the basis for a worker’s acquisition of job-relevant skills, training and apprenticeship programs should do more to strengthen these sorts of skills.
  • Socio-emotional and job-relevant skills can affect wages to the same degree as level of education.
  • Workers who were successfully self-employed were more educated and more likely to take risks than the less successfully self-employed.
  • A smooth transition from school to work seems to be related to people being more conscientious and emotionally stable.
  • Some workers aspire to positions for which they do not currently possess the right skills; if they had better information about the skills needed, they would be able to seek education and training options to upgrade their qualifications.
  • Businesses are not making full use of their workers’ existing skills. For example, employees are vastly underutilizing their employees’ computer skills in their jobs.

Most of the STEP results are reported at the individual country level and can be accessed on the STEP website.