What Are the Different Types of Literacy Assessments?

R. Wood

Literacy assessments are used to measure competency and knowledge. For example, a reading literacy assessment for school-age children shows how well they are progressing in their reading, and adult reading literacy assessments help measure an adult's reading level. A computer literacy assessment shows how well a person understands computer technology. Other fields use literacy assessments to measure competency and knowledge within that field.

A child literacy assessment can indicate progression.
A child literacy assessment can indicate progression.

Computer literacy is the ability to understand and use computers and other technology. It shows a skill level ranging from elementary to advanced computer problem-solving and programming. Computer literacy assessments can also indicate how comfortable a person is using a computer and how well he or she understands how computers work. If a person is applying for a job that requires the use of a computer, the employer might give a computer literacy assessment.

Literacy assessments can determine which words a child is having difficulty with.
Literacy assessments can determine which words a child is having difficulty with.

Reading literacy measures how well a person reads and understands what he or she is reading. Some schools give standardized tests to children to determine their reading level. A teacher might also use a reading literacy assessment to help understand the level at which a child is reading. Individual reading assessments has been known to give the teacher the most insight.

Teachers might use literacy assessments to make sure students are keeping on pace with their peers.
Teachers might use literacy assessments to make sure students are keeping on pace with their peers.

Health literacy assessments measure how well a person understands health-related information. This includes following instructions from a doctor on how to take medication. It also can include using food and product labels to calculator nutritional content, reading medical test results or reading an article about nutrition.

Literacy assessments may be conducted in elementary classroom settings.
Literacy assessments may be conducted in elementary classroom settings.

Prose literacy assessments measure how well a person understands and uses information in novels, newspapers, brochures or magazines. Adults use these assessments to learn new skills or for entertainment purposes. When a book is read to a child, prose literacy skills are being used. When a brochure is being read and understood, prose literacy skills are being used.

When a book is read to a child, prose literacy skills are being used.
When a book is read to a child, prose literacy skills are being used.

Document literacy assessments measure how well a person finds and uses information found in charts, graphs, schedules, forms or tables. If a person is filling out a job application, he or she is using document literacy. When a person is using the program guide on his or her television to find a movie, that person is using document literacy. If a person is filling out a credit card application, he or she is using document literacy.

Quantitative literacy assessments measure how well a person uses numbers found in printed documents, ads or flyers. In quantitative literacy, a person uses text and numbers to find information. He or she might have to multiply, add or subtract numbers to obtain the desired information. For example, figuring out what to tip at a restaurant, doing a monthly budget or keeping score for a sports team is using quantitative literacy.

Reading and comprehension skills are necessary for excellence on standardized testing.
Reading and comprehension skills are necessary for excellence on standardized testing.

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