On March 10, a First Look report called Skills of U.S. Unemployed, Young, and Older Adults in Sharper Focus:
Results From the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2012/2014 First
was released. The report includes data from the U.S. PIAAC National Supplement which increased the sample
of unemployed adults (ages 16–65), young adults (ages 16–34), and older adults (ages 66–74). The PIAAC Results Portal
has also been updated with the household data from the National Supplement. The 
PIAAC Gateway is the place to go for all 
release activities including news articles, an NCES blog post, an NCES statement by Acting Commissioner of the
National Center for Education Statistics Peggy Carr, and more!
Researchers will be particularly interested in the upcoming PIAAC releases, in early to mid-2016, including the combined
PIAAC 2012/2014 household public-use and restricted-use data files, the U.S. Program for the International Assessment of Adult 
Competencies (PIAAC) 2012/2014: Main Study and National Supplement Technical Report
, and an updated NCES International Data Explorer (IDE), with combined 2012/2014 data. 

Results from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies: 2014
a report presenting results from the U.S. PIAAC Prison Study, is expected to be released in mid-2016. 

Finally, in mid-2016, a report on young adults will be released called A Closer Look at U.S.Young Adults’ Skills by Education and 
Employment Status Results from PIAAC Surveys of 2012 and 2014
. This report will focus on employment and education outcomes 
among U.S. young adults (ages 16–34). Stay tuned for more information and check the
PIAAC Gateway for updates.

What We Need Skills For: The PIAAC Research Conference 2015 

The Buzz is pleased to announce that links to all of the materials from What We Need Skills For: The PIAAC Research Conference 2015 can now be found on the PIAAC Gateway web page. In addition to a photo gallery, you can find links to summaries, presentation slides, and video-recorded sessions of each panel from the conference, held on December 10–11, 2015, in Arlington, VA. Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), dedicated the conference to the late Dr. Eugene Owen. Dr. Owen was the first Director of the International Activities Program at NCES, and he played an instrumental role in the development of PIAAC as well as other international assessments.

More than 130 researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from government agencies, universities and adult education programs, foundations, policy shops, and think tanks gathered to hear the latest PIAAC-related research on topics including education and the workforce, skills acquisition and decline, immigration, health, and women and STEM.

Educational Testing Service (ETS) researchers presented on studies that looked at results from the PIAAC reading components assessment and analyzed the problem solving in technology-rich environments log files. Practitioners at the conference were especially pleased to listen to a preview of two research-to-practice guides based on the PIAAC literacy and numeracy frameworks.

The distinguished presenters, moderators, and discussants fueled lively small-group discussions about the relationships between the skills assessed in PIAAC and social and economic outcomes as well as the implications of the findings for policy and practice.  

Here’s a look at what the attendees took away from the conference: 

International Reaction

Researchers from Germany joined us again this year for the U.S. PIAAC research conference. We invited them to share their perspectives on the conference and what is happening with PIAAC in their own country. Here are some of their responses:

Barbara Nienkemper, Senior Researcher, University of Hamburg, Institute for Lifelong Learning, Germany

One of the focuses of our research at the University of Hamburg’s Institute for Lifelong Learning is the study of adults who have low literacy skills. With the national Level- One Survey—whose aim was to establish a benchmark for the dimension of illiteracy in the German population—we have been assessing adult competencies since 2010. In addition, since Germany’s federal government started a Decade for Alphabetization and Basic Skills in 2015, I am particularly interested in the kinds of policy recommendations that can be drawn from the international PIAAC data. Therefore, I particularly  enjoyed the discussions on the role of institutions and policies in enabling or constraining opportunities for education.

Furthermore, we have a cooperative project with the GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in which we use the PIAAC reading component measures, as well as data about individual literacy practices, to identify different subgroups of adults with lower literacy skills and give recommendations on how to address them in an adequate way. Hence, it was very informative to listen to John Sabatini’s analysis of the reading skills of U.S. adults and important to hear Amy Trawick’s remark that inside basic education programs we also have to consider the engagement of adults with literacy.

So, thank you for the opportunity to participate in What We Need Skills For: The PIAAC Research Conference. I am looking forward to your conferences in the future.   

Anja Perry, Senior Researcher, and Britta Gauly, Researcher, GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (Mannheim, Germany)

We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in What We Need Skills For: The PIAAC Research Conference in December. We enjoyed the presentations and were pleasantly surprised by the thematic diversity in which PIAAC data are used. The research projects presented at the conference demonstrated the unique aspects of the topic of interest combined with thorough analyses. The small-group discussions gave us the opportunity to meet other researchers and share our thoughts on PIAAC, which we enjoyed very much.

In Germany, additional PIAAC data are available that can provide further insight into some of the research questions that were presented:
  • We followed the German PIAAC respondents for three additional waves to collect further information on the respondents themselves and their family members. The data from the first wave of PIAAC-L, conducted in 2014, will be released in March 2016.
  • The PIAAC Prime Age dataset, which includes an oversample of 560 cases in the age group of 26–55, has already been released. This dataset allows for in-depth analyses of issues related to the labor market.
  • In the German supplemental study, Competencies in Later Life (CiLL), 66- to 80-year-olds were surveyed and tested using the PIAAC assessment. The CiLL data will be available shortly.
  • In a joint initiative with the DIPF (www.dipf.de), we are designing a tool to make the PIAAC log files available to users. These data will allow for analyses of the individual steps performed by respondents during the computer-based PIAAC assessment.
  • Finally, the German PIAAC scientific-use file is available for researchers and contains some variables that are not available in the German public-use file, such as continuous age and income.
For more information on PIAAC in Germany, please visit http://www.gesis.org/piaac.  

The U.S. PIAAC research conference was made possible by a generous contribution from the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Most of the papers presented were commissioned by AIR through funding provided by NCES. To visit the 2015 conference web page, click here. For summaries of some of the papers and a list of authors, please visit http://piaacgateway.com/researchpapers/.  Full copies of research papers will be available later this spring.


2015 PIAAC Research Papers – Coming Soon 

The research papers that were presented at What We Need Skills For: The PIAAC Research Conference 2015 will be available this spring on the PIAAC Gateway. The papers are based on the PIAAC data and cover social issues ranging from workforce and education to immigration and health. Read on to explore a few of the key findings from the papers and visit the conference webpage to learn more. 

Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) Conference 2016 PIAAC Strand

If you plan to attend the COABE 2015 conference in Dallas on April 10-13, look for the PIAAC strand, which will include an overview of PIAAC, several sessions featuring research papers based on the PIAAC data, and a full session on the cross-cutting implications of the research papers’ results for policy, programs, and future research. Click here to learn more about the conference and register. Be sure to check out the following presentations that are part of the PIAAC strand:

Why Adult Education Matters: New PIAAC Data About the Skills of Adults 16-74 in the United States
Monday, 4/11 10:45am-12:00pm
Exploring How Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments Can Be Used to Design Responsive Programming
Monday, 4/11 2:00pm-3:15pm
Literacy, Numeracy, and Health among Immigrants and U.S.-Born Adults: Evidence from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
Tuesday, 4/12 9:30am-10:45am
Enhancing Reading Instruction for Adults Using the PIAAC Framework for Literacy
Tuesday, 4/12 2:00pm-3:15pm
Adult Non-Participation in Education: Detouring from the Pathway
Tuesday, 4/12 3:45pm-5:00pm
PIAAC’s Implications For Policy And Practice 
Wednesday, 4/13 11:00am-12:15pm

American Educational Research Association Conference

If you plan to attend the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in Washington, DC, on April 8–12, look for “What PIAAC Says About the Effects of Social Background on Adult Skills and Social Mobility,” which will be chaired by AIR PIAAC Director Jaleh Soroui. The session will include three presentations and a question-and-answer segment for the presenters and discussant. The session will be held on Sunday, April 10, 8:15 am–9:45 am, in the Convention Center, Level One, Room 149B.

Discussant: Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, Branch Chief for Applied Innovation and Improvement in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education

Paper: Skills and Competencies of Immigrant-Origin Young Adults in North America and Europe
Authors: Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix

Paper: Persisting Gaps: Differences in Skill Levels Among College Graduates
Authors: Karly Ford and Mark Umbricht

Paper: Exploring the PIAAC U.S. National Supplement Findings on Young Adults, the Unemployed, and the Incarcerated
Authors: Stephen Provasnik and Holly Xie 

Other PIAAC Sessions at AERA include:

Overeducation, Skills, and Wage Penalty With Focus on Heterogeneous Labor
Friday, April 8, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm, Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D, Section A

Adult Transitions in an Era of College and Career Readiness
Saturday, April 9, 10:35 am–12:05 pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 149B

The Impact of Skills on Life Chances and Social Mobility for Adults Around the World
Saturday, April 9, 4:05 pm–6:05 pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 147B

Associations Between Adults' Education Skills and Political Efficacy: An Analysis of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies U.S. Data Set
Saturday, April 9, 4:05 pm–5:35 pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 159A

Technology Tools for Real-World Skill Assessments in Schools
Monday, April 11, 4:05 pm–5:35 pm, Marriott Marquis, Level Two, Marquis Salon 2

For a full list of sessions, visit: http://www.aera.net/EventsMeetings/AnnualMeeting/2016AnnualMeeting/tabid/15862/


What’s New

  • Dr. Eugene Owen Scholarship Fund: The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan is offering a scholarship for senior graduate students or outstanding pre-tenure scholars to attend one of the two 4-week sessions, or a single 3- to 5-day workshop, in the ICPSR Summer Program. Applicants must have professional interests in advancing cross-national research on K–12 student achievement, advancing cross-national research on college- or university-level achievement, or understanding the role of teaching from a cross-national perspective. The scholarship honors the late Dr. Eugene Owen, who played an instrumental role in the creation and development of PIAAC as well as three international student assessments and an international teacher survey. For more information about the scholarship and how to apply, see the flyer and visit the website. Applications are due April 30, 2016.
  • A $75 million, 5-year initiative, New Skills for Youth, aimed at investing in high-quality career-focused education that will enable young people to prosper in the growing global economy was announced last month by JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium. Read about the initiative here.
  • The National Council for Adult Learning (NCAL) was established to improve adult education and workforce skills in the United States by fostering an environment more sensitive to employer workforce needs and helping to move low-skilled adults and incumbent workers toward readiness for college, self-sustaining employment, and fuller civic participation. Visit the NCAL website a check out NCAL’s latest newsletter here. To receive the newsletter, send your name, affiliation, and e-mail address to info@ncalamerica.org.  
  • The PIAAC team at AIR is preparing tweets for the NCES Twitter feed. To access the NCES Twitter feed, click here.

PIAAC Around the World


Second PIAAC International Conference in Haarlem, The Netherlands

The second PIAAC International Conference, held in November 2015, showcased papers on issues such as the deployment of skills in the economy, returns to education and skills, and the influence of workplace training. It also provided an opportunity for researchers to demonstrate the wide-ranging applications of PIAAC data and for policymakers, other researchers, and various stakeholders to discuss the findings. Links to research papers and presentations are available on the conference website.

The conference was organized by the OECD in collaboration with the Research Centre for Education and the Labor Market at Maastricht University and the Dutch ministries of Education, Culture and Science; Social Affairs and Employment; and Economic Affairs.

Links to find out more:

PIAAC Data Trainings
2015 U.S. PIAAC Research Conference
One-page summaries of PIAAC Research Papers
NCES Twitter
PIAAC In Germany


Researchers’ Corner

Enhances to the PIAAC International Data Explorer
In January, NCES released an updated PIAAC International Data Explorer (IDE). The PIAAC IDE now includes gap analysis and regression analysis capabilities. Explore the new features here.

PIAAC Research Wiki

PIAAC wiki users: Sign in to your wiki account today! Not a PIAAC wiki user and want to be a part of the community? Sign up by clicking on the Wikidot image below:



What’s New on the PIAAC Gateway


Press Corner

Visit the PIAAC Gateway Pressroom to view more.


PIAAC Presentation Calendar

Is there a PIAAC-related event coming up that you’d like us to know about? Please share your event with us using the form on our calendar page. The next PIAAC-related events are as follows:
National Association of Workforce Boards Conference
Washington, D.C.
March 12, 2016
American Educational Research Association
Washington, D.C.
April 8-11, 2016
Commission on Adult Basic Education
Dallas, TX
April 10-13, 2016
Adult Education Research Conference
Charlotte, NC
June 2, 2016


PIAAC on the Web

AIR PIAAC Gateway: http//www.piaacgateway.com
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/piaac/
The U.S. PIAAC Background Questionnaire: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/piaac/questionnaire.asp
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: http://www.oecd.org/site/piaac/



Take Action

What are some strategies for promoting PIAAC at the local and state levels? This is a question we have been asked by several readers of the Buzz.  

Here are some suggestions on how you can help promote PIAAC:
  • Forward this e-mail and encourage others to sign up for our newsletter.
  • Download and print our informational brochures and infographics to learn more about PIAAC, and share the printed copies with your colleagues and at conferences or other events.
  • Post information about PIAAC on relevant websites, blogs, and discussion lists.
  • Let us know if you have an upcoming conference and would like us to present.
  • Use the PIAAC Outreach Toolkit to plan a presentation.
Do you have an outreach plan, research topic, or program related to PIAAC that you’d like to share with others? Would your organization benefit from a webinar or a guest speaker? Contact us at piaac@air.org.


Jaleh Soroui – AIR PIAAC Director

Saida Mamedova – Senior Research Analyst

Sondra Stein – Outreach Consultant

Kyosin Kang – Research Associate

Katie Landeros – Research Associate

Emily Pawlowski – Research Associate

Copyright © |2013| |American Institutes for Research|, All rights reserved.

PIAAC is funded by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education