Adult Skills Assessment Project: Actionable Assessments for Adult Learners

Image of various tools University of Massachusetts, Amherst, this Network research team is creating an online assessment system for measuring adult literacy and numeracy skills. These skills are important to the success of adult learners.

Partners in this work are the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; Haigler Enterprises International; and the University of Memphis.


Current adult education assessments are used mainly for accountability reporting. This leaves many gaps because education assessments are:

  • Not useful for guiding instruction and learning. 
  • Not effective measures for research in adult education. 
  • Usually not helpful to employers. 
  • Not tailored to adult learners’ needs.  
  • Unavailable outside of adult education programs.
Project Description

The research team will address these assessment gaps by developing and validating the Adult Skills Assessment Project (ASAP). ASAP will provide digital, personalized, diagnostic literacy and numeracy assessments that are grounded in principled assessment design. 

The assessments will be available to adult learners, instructors, career counselors, and employers. They will help improve instruction, job training, and academic and occupational outcomes for adult learners.

Project Activities

The research team will identify assessment gaps in adult literacy and numeracy with input from expert panels, employers, instructors, and adult learners. 

They will also create a theory- and research-based competency framework to guide the development of the assessment. The team will use the framework and findings from the gaps analysis to create an online bank of assessment tasks. The tasks will be linked to important literacy and numeracy skills and will be organized into modules designed for different types of users. 

The research team will then: 

  • Validate the assessment tasks with content experts. 
  • Test the online bank of assessment tasks for usability with adult learners. 
  • Develop assessment resources to provide a well-supported assessment system.
  • Conduct a final implementation study of the system to ensure that it works as intended.

The team will develop the following products:

  • An online repository of assessment task modules 
  • The full online system packaged for different assessment purposes that serve the learner, educator/counselor, or employer
  • Assessment resources, including online practice tests, test administration guides, and score report interpretation guides 

The research team will also share research results by giving presentations at practice- and research-oriented conferences and publishing research findings in peer-reviewed journals.

For More Information

Please visit the Adult Skills Assessment Project: Actionable Assessments for Adult Learners site for more details. For more information about the project, please contact the Principal Investigator Stephen Sireci.

This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education through Award #R305N210031.


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