Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
International Survey of Adult Skills (ISAS)

Summary

New Zealand is participating in the OECD's Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies survey (PIAAC). In New Zealand, PIAAC was operated under the field name International Survey of Adult Skills (ISAS).

Internationally, PIAAC is the most comprehensive survey of adult skills ever undertaken. Through interviews with a representative sample of respondents aged 16-65 in each participating country, PIAAC assesses literacy and numeracy skills, and ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments. PIAAC builds on previous international surveys of adult skills, allowing literacy levels to be compared over a 13-17 year period for some countries.

New Zealand, together with 8 other countries, is participating in a second round of PIAAC. This follows a first round in 25 countries whose results were published in October 2013. A third round has also begun.

In New Zealand ISAS data collection took place in April 2014–February 2015, and results will be published in July 2016. A field trial was held in April–September 2013.

Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.
For links to two earlier international surveys of adults skills: the 1996 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and the 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL) please refer to the 'Downloads/Links' inset (right). For further information on PIAAC (please refer to the links in the 'Where to Find Out More' inset (right).

What is PIAAC?

PIAAC:

  • is the most comprehensive international survey of adult skills ever undertaken
  • is a collaboration between governments, an international consortium of organisations and the OECD
  • takes place across OECD and partner countries in three rounds.  Round 1 results from 25 countries were published on 8 October 2013 and round 2 results, including New Zealand's, will be published in July 2016. Round 3 results are planned for 2019.
  • measures the skills and competencies needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper
  • helps governments better understand how education and training systems can nurture these skills.

The survey is carried out by:

  • interviewing adults aged 16-65 years in their homes – at least 5,000 in each participating country.
  • assessing literacy and numeracy skills, and ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments.
  • collecting a broad range of information from the adults taking the survey, including education background, how their skills are used at work and in other contexts such as the home and the community.

The information from individual respondents is strictly confidential. Published results are for groups of people where individuals cannot be identified.

PIAAC builds on previous international surveys of adult skills, allowing literacy levels to be compared over a 13-18 year period for some countries. PIAAC breaks new ground by:

  • expanding the range of skills being measured.
  • introducing a self-reported measure of the use of skills at work.
  • using computers to administer this kind of international assessment.

ISAS/PIAAC in New Zealand

  • PIAAC data collection in New Zealand was branded as International Survey of Adult Skills (ISAS).
  • The Ministry of Education contracted the National Research Bureau (NRB) to undertake ISAS data collection. You can visit the ISAS webpage on the NRB site.
  • The ISAS data collection took place April 2014–February 2015. NRB selected a representative sample of 16-65 year olds who were New Zealand usual residents. This sample included 'oversamples' of Māori, and of the 16-25 year old population in order to provide the scope for more indepth analysis for these groups.
  • An ISAS interview contained the following elements:
    • A background questionnaire that collected information on education, work, use of skills at work and in everyday life, languages spoken and socio-demographic information. The background questionnaire was administered face-to-face by an interviewer who entered the answers into a laptop computer.
    • A skill assessment which was undertaken by the respondent on the laptop. Some respondents were provided with paper assessment booklets instead. Test items covered a wide range of difficulty and measured skill in three skill domains: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology rich environments.
  • The first PIAAC results for New Zealand will be published in July 2016, at the same time as the other round 2 PIAAC countries. These publications are planned to also include round 1 PIAAC countries' results.
  • As for earlier skill surveys, results will include
    • average scores on each skill domain for countries and for population subgroups.
    • comparisons over time and with other countries.
    • proportions of different sub-populations reaching different benchmarks for each skill domain.

Which other countries are participating in PIAAC with New Zealand?

The following countries undertook PIAAC in round 1: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The following countries are taking part in round 2 at the same time as New Zealand: Chile, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Lithuania, Singapore, Slovenia, and Turkey.

Round 3 countries are the United States, (repeating PIAAC from round 1), Argentina, Columbia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mexico, and Peru.

International Sites of Interest

Logo-OECD
OECD
The OECD's website contains other material on adult skills. The OECD Skills Strategy is a key document.


Logo-ETS
Educational Testing Service (ETS)
The website of the United States based organisation, Educational Testing Service (ETS) has a range of publications on adult skills.


Logo-DIPF
The German Institute for International Education Research (DIPF)
The German Institute for International Education Research provides informaiton about the PIAAC assessment platform. ETS and DIPF are PIAAC consortium members.

Downloads / Links

Indicator Icon  Adult Literacy & Life Skills Survey

Where to Find Out More

Website Icon  OECD website: PIAAC

Website Icon  DIPF website: PIAAC

Website Icon  ETS website: Adult Literacy

Contact Us

For queries about PIAAC/ISAS please contact:

Paul Satherley
Project Manager
Research Division
Ministry of Education
P O Box 1666, Thorndon
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Phone:  +64 4 463-2893
Fax:    +64 4 463-8312
Email:  Paul Satherley