A major purpose of the survey was to inventory the English-language assessment tools being used by delivery agencies and to identify the strengths and limitations of these tools. The findings indicate that the 400 respondents use 26 different types of commercial instruments to assess literacy, numeracy, and essential skills. Appendix B lists the tools that each jurisdiction uses for initial assessment.
Of these 26 instruments, only three are current instruments that were developed within the past decade for the adult Canadian population and were being used at the national level. These three tests, Canadian Adult Reading Assessment (CARA), Common Assessment of Basic Skills (CABS), and Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES), were funded by the National Literacy Secretariat. A total of 134 respondents use CARA for initial, on-going, and/or exit assessment, making it the most widely used test of the 26 different instruments. CABS was the second most widely used test, with a total of 81 respondents using it for the various stages of assessment. TOWES was used only by 53 respondents, but this is due to the fact that it was developed specifically for the Canadian workplace to assess essential skills in three domains. Since only 51 of the 400 respondents identified themselves as workplace educators, it is not surprising that TOWES was used only by 53 respondents. Clearly, TOWES is being used for the purpose for which it was intended.
Despite the range of instruments being used across the country, the findings portray an assessment profile for the different delivery agencies and preferences for specific tools across the delivery agencies. In adult basic education, assessment tools and tasks that measure and document performance can be classified into four types: authentic, diagnostic, standardized, and competency-based. The findings portray a specific assessment profile for each delivery agency; they favor certain types of assessment tools over others.