Today, we are spotlighting an article from the Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy. The mission of the journal is to inform readers about best practices in adult basic and secondary education and transitions into the workplace and higher education.
An excerpt of the article, “The PIAAC Numeracy Framework: A Guide to Instruction,” by Donna Curry is highlighted below.
Adult learners come to our classes at all different levels, with misconceptions, gaps in some areas but strengths in others. There is no class that is truly homogeneous, especially if the class is based on a one-time multiple-choice test. This messiness is one reason many adult education math teachers feel like the best way to work with their students is to have them all in separate workbooks (including “tech-based workbooks”) which typically focus on decontextualized procedural practice – a unit each on fractions, decimals, data, geometry, etc. And, because this is the model that most practitioners are used to seeing, they simply follow the workbook (or virtual lessons). They often have trouble figuring out how to differentiate instruction other than to have every student on a different page in the workbook. This means that there is little classroom discussion about topics of significance to students and students rarely see math as useful in their lives. Their main purpose for learning math in the adult education classroom is often just to pass the “test.”
The Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies, better known as PIAAC, developed a numeracy assessment framework that was used internationally to assess adults’ numeracy skills. The assessment gauged adults’ (aged 16 – 65 years) numeracy skills across a full range, from adults with very low levels of numeracy to college level math ability. PIAAC’s assessment framework is based on two concepts: math as being use-oriented and math proficiency as a continuum. While this framework was designed to measure adults’ numeracy ability in a structured assessment environment (including adults’ home with trained evaluators), it is useful beyond its original intent. This framework can be used to help teachers better understand how to differentiate instruction while still focusing on a particular theme or topic in a classroom, ensuring rich discussions about topics of interests to students. This can be flexibly done once teachers become comfortable with the PIAAC numeracy framework.