Making the Grade? Troubling Trends in Postsecondary Student Literacy – Issue paper No 16 (2013)

In this paper, the authors raise concerns about the literacy skills of students attending postsecondary institutions in Ontario.

Results from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) show that not even a quarter of respondents aged 18 to 65 scored above level 3, the minimum level of proficiency required to function well in today’s world, the authors note.

Research also suggests that there are conflicting literacy standards for students entering postsecondary education. While the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) establishes level 3 as the minimum proficiency level for high school graduation, Ontario’s high schools operate with a different standard, and the expectations of faculty members for high school graduates set yet another standard. This lack of clarity in expectations poses a problem both for students and for institutions.

The authors also examine data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tests students’ abilities in reading, science and math. Those figures suggest that while students who score highest on the reading assessment at age 15 are more likely to attend university, a considerable percentage of those scoring below level 3 will also attend. Colleges are attracting individuals with a much wider range of language abilities, with fewer students from the upper end of the proficiency scale and more students from the lower-mid range.

The authors recommend that Ontario’s postsecondary institutions define the literacy standard they expect of students upon admission, and at graduation.

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2014-03-12
APA citation
Nicolas Dion and Vicky Maldonado. Making the Grade? Troubling Trends in Postsecondary Student Literacy – Issue paper No 16 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2020 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/making_the_grade/making_the_grade.pdf>
Nicolas Dion & Vicky Maldonado (2013). Making the Grade? Troubling Trends in Postsecondary Student Literacy – Issue paper No 16. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/making_the_grade/making_the_grade.pdf
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