Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey - FAQ
1. What is the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL)?
The Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL) is an international comparative assessment that provided information about the literacy and numeracy of adults aged 16 to 65 years-old. ALL also measured adults' problem-solving skills and their familiarity with information and communication technologies.
ALL was based on earlier adult literacy studies, particularly the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) which was conducted in New Zealand in 1996.
2. How does ALL relate to IALS?
IALS measured skills in the three domains: prose literacy, document literacy and quantatitive literacy. ALL measured prose and document literacy in the same way as IALS so that comparisons over time are possible. ALL developed quantitative literacy into numeracy, and added a fourth domain, problem
3. What is the policy rationale for ALL?
Strong evidence exists internationally that, for developed countries, full participation in society and the labour market is linked to the capacity to accumulate knowledge and to develop and maintain a broad range of skills.
ALL results provide new information on the relationships between skill levels and the labour market, economic growth, and education systems and services. They throw new light on the role of skill in creating social equity and inequity in economic outcomes, particularly for groups functioning, on average,
below the level of competence. ALL also provides information on the impact that Information Communication Technology (ICT) use has on economic outcomes and the extent to which ICT use depends on high levels of literacy and numeracy. ALL results will provide comparative information for New Zealand and
other OECD countries.
ALL statistics provide knowledge about New Zealand's human capital and skill levels to inform a range of projects.
4. What did ALL measure?
ALL produces internationally comparable statistics on adult skill levels in prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy and problem solving.
- prose literacy - the knowledge and skills needed to understand and use information from texts such as editorials, news stories, poems and fiction
- document literacy - the knowledge and skills required to locate and use information contained in various formats such as tables, forms, graphs and diagrams
- numeracy - the knowledge and skills required to effectively manage the mathematical demands of diverse situations
- problem solving - the ability to solve problems by clarifying the nature of the problem and developing and applying appropriate solution strategies.
In addition, ALL collects data on a range of socio-economic, health, and demographic variables, including use of information and communication technology and participation in spells of adult education and training.
5. Who organised ALL?
ALL was a joint project of several agencies including the OECD, Statistics Canada, the National Center for Education Statistics of the US Department of Education, and the Educational Testing Service which is a US-based private education research organisation.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Education is responsible for ALL. The Ministry took advice from a range of agencies in the government and foundation learning sectors.
6. Which countries participated in ALL?
A group of seven countries or regions (Bermuda, Canada, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, the United States, and the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon) participated in ALL in 2003. The results are published on Statistics Canada website.
The following countries, together with New Zealand, participated in a second ALL wave: Australia, Korea, Hungary and the Netherlands. Statistics Canada is preparing a further international report covering both waves.
7. When and how was ALL data collected in New Zealand?
Much of the methodology for ALL was internationally prescribed. ALL had a nationally representative probability-based sample. The ALL target population was all persons aged 16-65 usually resident in New Zealand and living in private households at the time of data collection. One eligible person per
household was selected and interviewed face to face. Over 7000 interviews were achieved.
The New Zealand National Research Bureau collected ALL data under contract to the Ministry of Education, over the period May 2006 - March 2007.
An ALL interview included a background questionnaire - which collected information on demography, socio-economic variables, education and training, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use - and a task booklet. The interviews lasted an average of about 90 minutes.
Sample task items are located on this link from the National Center for Education Statistics website.
8. What ALL results are available?
The Ministry of Education has published a number of research reports based on the 2006 assessment, which are available from the ALL Publications page.