Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Adults Falling Behind

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Adults Falling Behind

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

American adults are not only not "the best in the world," they are slipping in comparison to their peers around the world, according to a massive study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD Survey of Adult Skills is a new international study examining the skills of 16- to 65-year-olds across 24 countries, including how literacy, numeracy, and problem solving are used at work. The survey examined 160,000 adults, including 5,000 Americans.

The survey showed that high-quality initial education is an important predictor for success in adult life. But countries must combine this with flexible, skills-oriented learning opportunities throughout life, in particular for working-age adults.

Some of the key findings:

* In literacy skills, 22% of Japanese adults performed at the highest level of proficiency; only 12% of U.S. adults did so. Overall, U.S. adults were below average for literacy skills.

* In numeracy skills, almost one in three adults in the United States (28.7%) perform at or below the most basic level of numeracy, compared to around one in 10 in Japan (8.2%), Finland (12.8%), and the Czech Republic (12. …

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