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ERIC Number: ED518670
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jan
Pages: 90
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The Literacy of America's College Students
Baer, Justin D.; Cook, Andrea L.; Baldi, Stephane
American Institutes for Research
Rapid changes in technology make it necessary for adults of all ages to use written information in new and more complex ways. For example, learning how to operate computers, filling out complicated tax forms, and comparing price labels when shopping for groceries are just a few of the many tasks that are important parts of peoples lives. Every adult needs a range of literacy skills to achieve his or her personal goals, pursue a successful career, and play an active role as a citizen. High levels of literacy also enable individuals to keep pace with changing educational expectations and technologies and support the aspirations of their families. With the recent attention on accountability measures for elementary and secondary schools, accountability in institutions of higher education has been all but overlooked. The National Survey of America's College Students (NSACS) is a study that examines the literacy of U.S. college students, providing information on how prepared these students are to continue to learn and use the skills that they will need in the years to come. Such an examination provides a valuable set of indicators of performance in higher education, informing such issues as the relationship among educational experience, literacy, and preparedness for the job market. Because literacy is not a single skill used in the same manner for all types of printed and written information, the NSACS measured literacy along three dimensions: prose literacy, document literacy, and quantitative literacy. These three literacy domains were designed to capture an ordered set of information-processing skills and strategies that adults use to accomplish a wide range of literacy tasks and make it possible to profile the various types and levels of literacy among different subgroups in society. In addition to measuring the literacy skills of college students, the NSACS administered a background questionnaire to address specific issues of interest to the higher education and policy communities, such as demographics, educational and language background, previous educational experience, career plans, and current college experiences. The following are appended: (1) Sample Questions; (2) Technical Notes; (3) Standard Errors for Tables and Figures; and (4) Glossary. (Individual chapters and appendixes contain footnotes, tables, and figures.)
American Institutes for Research. 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: 202-403-5000; Fax: 202-403-5001; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Pew Charitable Trusts
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research