Monitoring and Measuring Literacy

Wagner, Daniel A.
Date of publication: 
Mon, 2004-07-05


Thus, at the time of the UN Literacy Decade in 2003, a variety of approaches or models of ‘keeping track’ of rates or levels of adult literacy have been put forward, and some have been implemented in various contexts. The present paper contains an overview of the main approaches that have been taking to measure adult literacy within and across countries. Since other reviews exist, the primary focus of the present paper is to review the differing purposes of different models of assessment in light of their intended or presumed policy goals. In short, as with all measurement tools in the social sciences, there can be quite different approaches to data collection and analysis, each with costs and benefits – where costs are not only fiscal, but also include human resources, time, political capital, and where benefits, in a parallel fashion, may be in seen in terms of national rankings or in improving instruction or in teacher training.

In sum, there is no magic bullet in monitoring and measuring in adult literacy, but, as will be argued here, there are serious choices to be made depending on ones goals and means for reaching them.