TESTING OF ADULT LITERACY IN THE CIVILIAN SECTOR
Data are presented for civilian assessments of adult literacy spanning over a half century (Table 3). With the exception of Buswell's study that sampled adults in the Chicago area, the other studies have used a nationally representative sampling of either young adults or the full range of adults.
Starting with Buswell's study in 1937, civilian surveys of literacy skills have gone beyond the assessment of reading and mathematics from an "academic" perspective, like those followed in the military tests, to an approach in which the academic skills of reading and mathematics are applied to the performance of "real life," or "functional" tasks. This includes such tasks as reading movie or TV advertisements, figuring the price of items in a grocery store advertisement, following instructions in recipes, locating information in train schedules, filling out various forms and so forth.
The civilian adult surveys of literacy are also more likely to use open-ended, constructed response items rather than relying solely on multiple-choice items as do the military tests. However, neither this nor the use of "real world" tasks has seemed to have affected major trends in the findings with either military or civilian literacy tests.
Education and Literacy Skill
In both military and civilian literacy assessments, performance is strongly influenced by the amount of formal education the adults have. Higher educated adults perform better than those with medium amounts of education and the latter out-perform the least educated adults. Thus, as a general trend, greater amounts of formal education are associated with greater amounts of literacy skill, i.e., greater ability of adults to perform both "academic" and "functional, real world" tasks. (see Figures 15, p. 43; 30, p. 59; 33, p. 63; 37, p. 67; 68, p. 99; 82, p. 113).
Education and Literacy Practices
As a general trend, as the amount of education goes up, so, too, does the amount of reading and the variety of materials read. Better educated adults read books, magazines, and newspapers more often than do less well educated adults (see Figures 15, p. 43, 33, p.63, 68, p.99, 82, p. 113).
Literacy and Ethnicity
On both the military's Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (Figure 8, p. 33) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress's Literacy: Profiles of America's Young Adults, across all levels of education, Whites exceed the performance of African- Americans, and Hispanics fall in between (see Figure 91, p. 137). These are essentially the same findings as with the Anny's Alpha and Beta tests in 1917 (Figure 3, p. 23) when the latter was used with non-English speaking recruits as well as with low literates.
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