Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), also known as the Survey of Adult Skills, is a large-scale international household study administered in over 40 countries and conducted under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The survey assesses key cognitive skills (literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving in technology rich environments) and workplace skills that adults need to participate successfully in 21st century society and the global economy.

PIAAC was first administered in 2012 to a national representative sample of minimum 5,000 adults in each participating country. In the U.S. additional administrations were conducted in 2014 and 2017. The 2014 administration enhanced the 2012 dataset by extending the assessment to older adults (ages 66-74), and oversampling unemployed adults (ages 16-65), and young adults (ages 16-34). The 2014 data collection also included a study of incarcerated adults. The 2017 data collection will both stand alone as a nationally representative sample and will be combined with the 2012/14 estimates to provide county level estimates.

Findings from the survey show adults in the U.S. lagged behind other countries in the industrialized world, especially in numeracy and digital problem solving.  U.S. adults who are Hispanic or African American, born in another country, or of a lower socioeconomic status scored substantially lower than their counterparts.

In the United States, PIAAC is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education.  AIR staff work closely with NCES and other contractors in the United States to provide technical assistance, management support; and to conduct outreach and dissemination activities for PIAAC in the United States. In addition, AIR-PIAAC team provides support and technical assistance to researchers interested working with PIAAC data.

PIAAC study covers several areas, including: adult competencies, international comparison, adult literacy, adult numeracy, digital problem solving, education and training of adults, young adults’ skills, skills of non-native born adults, workforce development, health, and skills of incarcerated adults. To learn more about PIAAC, visit the PIAAC Gateway or click on one of the links below. 

PIAAC Resources: