PIAAC continues and extends the tradition of the two preceding 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:
- The new domain problem solving in technology-rich environments was assessed for the first time in PIAAC Cycle 1. The assessment of problem solving in technology-rich environments was especially important in view of the increasing pace at which technology is spreading in our society (e.g. due to increasing internet use and e-mail communication).
- 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 offered more detailed information about persons with very low levels of literacy.
- 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.
- The PIAAC Cycle 1 interview was the first of its kind to be conducted 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.