In 2006 international research of OECD countries (Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, or ALL) found that more than a million New Zealand adults had less than ideal literacy and numeracy skills. Improving these skills is part of the strategic priorities of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) who engaged NZCER to develop a literacy and numeracy assessment that could be used in workplace education programmes and tertiary education settings. NZCER, working alongside our Australian equivalent ACER, created the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT). Based on the Adult Learning Progressions (an educational framework for embedded adult literacy and numeracy skills, designed by the TEC) the LNAAT offers assessments in reading, numeracy, vocabulary and writing for post-school education organisations, community education programmes, and workplace literacy and numeracy programmes.
The LNAAT’s popularity is due in part to its adaptive technology which allows the assessment to cater to the ability level demonstrated by the learner. This guarantees a personalised assessment for each learner, creating reports which highlight individual opportunities for teaching and learning.
Another key feature of the LNAAT is the different item banks, or ‘audiences’, which allow an assessment to be targeted to the interests and life experience of the learner. For example, when creating a reading assessment in the LNAAT a kaiako can choose
- an Adult assessment (workplace context questions),
- a Youth assessment (aimed at learners aged 15 to 25, concentrating on everyday scenarios),
- a Te Ata Hāpara assessment (a Māori cultural context assessment, covering history, modern topics, and tikanga), or
- a Starting Points Reading assessment for low level literacy learners (working at Steps 1 or 2 of the Adult Learning Progressions).
Developed purely for use in an Aotearoa New Zealand context, the LNAAT was launched in 2010 and remains the most widely used adult literacy and numeracy tool in the country.