Programme for the International
Assessment of Adult Competencies


PIAAC continues and extends the tradition of the two prior international assessments of adult competencies, the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL). Compared to IALS and ALL, PIAAC Cycle 1 introduced the following key innovations:

  1. The assessment of problem solving in technology-rich environments in the first cycle of PIAAC was especially important in view of the increasing pace at which technology is spreading in our society. Examples are looking for information through internet searches or communicating via e-mail.
  2. One of the weaknesses of IALS and ALL was that the measurement instruments did not differentiate sufficiently at the low levels of literacy. By extending the measurement of literacy with the reading components, PIAAC offers more detailed information about persons with very low levels of literacy.
  3. The PIAAC Cycle 1 background questionnaire was the first to include a Job Requirements Approach in an international large-scale assessment in order to study the relation between the skill level and the actual use of skills at work.
  4. The PIAAC Cycle 1 interview was the first of its kind to be completely computer-based: The background questionnaire and the cognitive assessment in the first cycle of PIAAC were both administered via a newly developed open source platform.