4 literacy assessment tools for adult learners

Formal assessments help drive the learning process and evaluate the progress of learners. Each new adult learner comes with their own strengths and areas for improvement regarding literacy. Assessments help you uncover what they already know, how well they know it, and where they require extra support.

Assessments are well-known to help measure learners’ progress, but they also do so much more. By assessing a learner’s abilities, skills and fluency, you’re better able to match them to an appropriate resource.

Both practitioners and learners can use assessments to make informed decisions regarding strategies to enhance literacy skills. Assessments can show when a learner is ready to progress to the next level of learning and identify areas that may need extra attention or focus.

To optimize learner success, here are four assessment tools to consider for your adult literacy organization.

The Canadian Adult Reading Assessment (CARA)

The CARA is noted as the most commonly used diagnostic assessment across literacy organizations. The helpful tool provides instructors with feedback regarding learners’ independent, instructional and frustration reading levels. The adult literacy and adult basic education programs found in each province and territory correlate with these levels.

In addition, the CARA provides placement and diagnostic information so that practitioners can easily choose effective teaching strategies.

Some libraries, such as Toronto Public Library, may carry the CARA booklet, allowing you to review it for free

Diagnostic Literacy Assessment for Beginning Readers (DALA)

The DALA toolkit was developed for beginning adult readers and is suitable for both initial and ongoing assessment.

This user-friendly appraisal helps practitioners identify reading patterns and select effective teaching strategies. After starting with a thorough interview about reading concepts, nine sub-tests are available to utilize, including letter names, phonics and text functions. Visually appealing and non-threatening for learners, the DALA includes easy-to-follow instructions for practitioners.

Toronto Public Library also carries DALA for free borrowing. Contact your local library to see if they offer it.

Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT)

The CAAT measures an adult’s current math, reading and language abilities and is the most frequently used standardized assessment across literacy organizations. Highly reliable, its nine sub-tests provide grade equivalency and help determine proper placement in programs.

Besides being easy to administer and score, the tool’s ability to be administered in a group setting provides cost-effectiveness.

Common Assessment of Basic Skills Online (CABS)

The CABS online tool entails fifteen task-based demonstrations using the Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) levels. Results from tasks involving reading, writing, numeracy and basic computer skills assist with learner placement.

Easy to use and access, the CABS tool includes advice for practitioners interested in developing their own CABS-like assessment tasks. Check out Literacy Link of Eastern Ontario for more information.

The Bottom Line

As a literacy organization, you want to provide every new adult learner with the best chance of success. Powerful learning tools such as assessments offer feedback about the education process, measure learners’ progress, and, most importantly, help engage learners with their coursework. To access free literacy programs and resources for learners, check out our initiatives.