From the TEC: How to use the TEC literacy and numeracy assessment tools – Part 1


How to use the TEC literacy and numeracy assessment tools

Background

Strong adult literacy and numeracy skills deliver significant economic and social benefits for the individual, for employers and ultimately for New Zealand. Literacy and numeracy is a priority in the Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-15, particularly raising the skills of learners in levels one to three provision. Since 2006 the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has engaged in a systemic approach to building the capability of the tertiary sector to strengthen the literacy and numeracy of learners at entry level tertiary education. The TEC has invested in both the development of a high quality national infrastructure to support educators and directly in delivery to learners through a range of funds and grants. The Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (Assessment Tool) and the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions (Learning Progressions) are key components of the national infrastructure.

Figure 1 Systemic approach to strengthening the literacy and numeracy of adults

The Learning Progressions have been in place since 2008 and show what adult learners know and can do at successive points as they develop their skills in literacy and numeracy. The Learning Progressions were developed as a set of continuums with each step along the continuum representing a significant learning development. Because of this the steps are uneven and the scales for reading, writing and numeracy are independent of one another. The relative size of steps in the reading, writing and numeracy progressions was estimated as part of the calibration exercise conducted during development of the Assessment Tool.

The Assessment Tool is a predominantly online adaptive tool primarily designed to provide robust and reliable information on the reading, writing, numeracy and vocabulary skills of adults. This information informs the development of learning interventions that match learners’ needs and strengthen their literacy and numeracy skills. The Assessment Tool also allows learners to track their progress over time and enables educators and organisations to report on the progress made by groups or cohorts of learners. The Assessment Tool was also designed to be able to generate nationally consistent measures on learner skill levels and skill gain over time. Data is important to help assess the effectiveness of provision and overall skill levels, and prioritise funding where necessary.

Information from the Assessment Tool enables TEC to understand the performance of the various funds, while helping providers to use the results to inform and improve teaching and learning.  The TEC is working with evidence from the Assessment Tool to understand what learner progress is possible across a complex and varied sector.  Over the next two years the TEC will work to develop an indicator that will establish requirements for progress in 2015.  These requirements will be evidence-based, achievable and clearly communicated to the sector.

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