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Press Releases

October 8, 2013

Contact: Marsha L. Tait, NCL PIAAC Project Manager
Phone: 315-345-8041(C)

National Coalition for Literacy Responds to OECD Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Report


According to a new International report released this morning, low basic skills in literacy and numeracy are more common in the US than on average across participating countries. One in six adults in the US have low literacy skills and nearly one third have weak numeracy skills. Adults in the US fared less well with "problem-solving in technology-rich environments" than the cross-country average.

These findings are from the much anticipated OECD Skills Outlook 2013 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Report released in Brussels today by OECD. The Survey of Adult Skills is an international survey conducted in the US and 24 participating countries. It measured the key cognitive and workplace skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper.

Martin Finsterbusch, a former adult education student and president of the National Coalition for Literacy and Executive Director of VALUEUSA, stated that, "This report underscores the importance of investing in adult education in the US. We must give adults in our nation the opportunity to improve their English literacy, numeracy, and technology skills. Research demonstrates that investment in adult education pays For America's Workers; For Global Competitiveness; For Bridging the Digital Divide; For Stronger Families and Future Generations; For Educational Attainment; For Safer and Healthier Communities; For an Informed Citizenry; and For Fully Integrated Communities!"

The report reads in part, "The technological revolution that began in the last decades of the 20th century has affected nearly every aspect of life in the 21st: from how we "talk" with our friends and loved ones, to how we shop, and how and where we work. Quicker and more efficient transportation and communication services have made it easier for people, goods, services and capital to move around the world, leading to the globalization of economies. These social and economic transformations have, in turn, changed the demand for skills as well. With manufacturing and certain low-skill tasks increasingly becoming automated, the need for routine cognitive and craft skills is declining, while the demand for information-processing and other high-level cognitive and interpersonal skills is growing."

Finsterbusch said, "Local adult education programs across the US report waiting lists. We must address the shortage of available resources to meet the instructional needs of these adults. In the meantime, the National Coalition for Literacy and the US Adult Education and Literacy field eagerly await the release of the US Country Report containing more specific analysis of the skills of adults in the US."

For more information about how to become involved in public policy advocacy in support of adult education, please visit:

The mission of the National Coalition for Literacy is: to advance adult education, family literacy, and English language acquisition in the U.S. by increasing public awareness for the need to increase funding and programs; promoting effective public policy; and serving as an authoritative resource for the field on national adult education issues. For more information, visit


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