5 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 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 much more. You can better match a learner’s abilities, skills, and fluency to an appropriate resource by assessing a learner’s abilities.

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 five 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.

The tool’s cost-effectiveness results from its ease of administration and scoring and its capability for group-based administration

Communications and Math Employment Readiness Assessment (CAMERA) System

CAMERA tests are standardized, integrated resources that support learners in upgrading workplace communications and numeracy skills. They’re an essential part of the CAMERA System, which also includes signposts (curriculum guidelines) and instructional workbooks.

The tests integrate the essential skills required for success in the workplace across four skill domains: reading text, document use, numeracy, and writing. Check out Preparatory Training Programs of Toronto (PTP) for more information.

Testing of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES)

This suite of assessment and training products is nationally recognized and grounded in solid research. TOWES utilizes authentic Canadian work and life content to assess and enhance critical skills for success in working, learning, and life. The tool assesses an individual’s competence in reading, using documents, and numeracy.

Employers and institutions utilize the practical web-based and paper-based tools to receive valid, reliable, and effective results.

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.