Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
Practical PIAAC: What Alberta Practitioners Need to Know
On September 18 & 19, 2014, a conference hosted by the Centre for Family Literacy, Community Learning Network, and Literacy Alberta, was held in Edmonton. A general overview of PIAAC and the differences between PIAAC and IALS were explored. We investigated PIAAC from an Aboriginal focus and a workplace focus. We explored practical ways and tools to share this information with your boards and communities.
Following are the presentations from day one of the conference:
Master of Ceremonies: Randy Boissonnault
Don Scott, QC, Minister of Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education
SESSION 1: A Layperson's Guide to PIAACPresenter: Brigid Hayes
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is in the midst of conducting a large-scale survey of literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments and Canada is among the first countries reporting results. Brigid Hayes guided participants through an overview of the survey from a layperson’s perspective. She explored the question of does PIAAC matter, and if so, how does it matter? Brigid also highlighted policy and practice implications of the survey. She challenged the reliance on this type of survey and called for additional and alternative ways of indicating success. Participants left this session with a better understanding of the findings and their implications, as well as an appreciation of the survey’s limitations.
SESSION 2: Comparing Definitions of "Low Literacy" in IALS, PIAAC and by Adult Literacy LearnersPresenter: Audrey Gardner
For her PhD research study, Audrey Gardner organized focus groups with adult learners in literacy programs. Together they read excerpts from reports that used PIAAC and IALS data defining the characteristics of low literacy. Learners compared how low literacy is described in these reports with how they view themselves as learners. They also shared their perspectives on the similarities and differences between the first Canadian IALS report in 1996 and the first report on the PIAAC results in 2013. Audrey talked about the kinds of questions that arose when learners critically reflected upon the language institutions (OECD, government, organizations) use to describe them.
SESSION 3: Literacy Assessment: An Indigenous PerspectivePresenter: Dr. Phyllis Grace Steeves
Most literature related to literacy focuses on barriers to attaining reading and writing skills sufficient to “succeed” in contemporary Western societies. This presentation addresses a gap in scholarship and practice by critiquing the concept itself. Through an unpacking of its evolution from a single strand construct, from an ability to read and write to a powerful and complex web that encompasses other concepts, theories, and a wide range of skills and communication methods literacy itself will undergo an assessment.
SESSION 4: PIAAC from a Practical Workplace Educator's PerspectivePresenter: Tracy Defoe
PIAAC gives us data, snapshots through several different lenses of assessed skills of Canadians in and out of the workforce. In this fourth presentation of the day, workplace educator Tracy Defoe shared her own practical perspective. What are workers and employers saying about PIAAC? How do PIAAC results and reports figure in workplace education planning and practice? What does PIAAC mean to you, in your practice moving forward? Tracy also shared her takeaways from the day’s speakers, and challenged Alberta literacy practitioners to be mindful in their messages about PIAAC around workers’ skills.