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Adult Basic Skills: Innovations in Measurement and Policy Analysis

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In an ever-shrinking world, there are increasing efforts among many countries to understand their economic, social, and educational policies in the relative light of other nations' successes and failures. Largely begun by anthropologiests in the colonial era, cross-cultural studies examined and compared human behavior ranging from childrearing practices and initiation rites to the training of craftsmen and sedentary agriculturists. Cross-cultural and cross-national comparisons of literacy ability are of rather more recent vintage; for example, studies of the cultural specificities of reading in different languages and scripts, the cognitive consequences of literacy in cultural groups, and skill performance across industrialized countries. This chapter considers the policy implications of these different approaches on such issues as the classification of literacy levels, use of mother-tongue and second languages in assessment, comparability of assessment across time and cultures, and the measurement of the social consequences of literacy attainment. Several important limitations and opportunities in the comparative use of literacy assessments are described, particularly with respect to the distinction between emic and etic perspectives on assessment.

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Originally published in Adult Basic Skills: Innovations in Measurement and Policy Analysis © 1997 Hampton Press. Reproduced with permission.



Date Posted: 31 May 2018