IALSS 2003
Key Policy Research Findings
Presented by
Satya Brink, Ph.D.
Director, National Learning Policy Research
Learning Policy Directorate
November 9, 2005
Note: Preliminary analysis, some data may change
Introduction
Key policy research questions for literacy
policy and programming
• What is the level of literacy proficiency in
Canada across provinces and territories? What
are the implications?
• How do provinces compare nationally and
internationally?
• How proficient are Canadians in different
component skills?
• Since the proportion with low literacy did not
change for Canada, were there changes in
performance among the provinces?
Introduction
Measurement of adult competencies
IALS
• Conducted in 1994
• Domains:
Prose
Document
Quantitative
• Participating regions:
Atlantic, Québec, Ontario, Western
Canada (including British Columbia)
• In Canada, 4500 respondents aged
16-65 representing 18,450,260 adults
IALSS
• Conducted in 2003
• Domains:
Prose
Document
Numeracy (modified)*
Problem solving*
• Participating provinces:
All provinces and territories
• In Canada, 20,000 respondents age 1665 representing 21,360,683 adults
Introduction*
Literacy proficiency: the ability to understand and
employ printed information in daily activities, at home,
at work and in the community. It is not about whether
or not one can read but how well one reads.
4 Domains, measure skills at five levels :
- Prose: The knowledge and skills needed to understand and use
information from texts including editorials, news stories, brochures
and instruction manuals.
- Document: The knowledge and skills required to locate and use
information contained in various formats, including job applications,
payroll forms, transportation schedules, maps, tables, and charts.
- Numeracy: The knowledge and skills required to apply arithmetic
operations, either alone or sequentially, to numbers embedded in
printed materials, such as balancing an account, figuring out a tip,
completing an order form or determining the amount of interest on
a loan from an advertisement .
- Problem Solving: Involves goal-directed thinking and action in
situations for which no routine solution procedure is available. The
understanding of the problem situation and its step-by-step
transformation, based on planning and reasoning constitute the
process of problem solving. (Only four proficiency levels)
Prose, document and
numeracy scale
•Level 1 0 - 225 points
•Level 2 226 -275 points
•Level 3 276-325 points*
•Level 4 326 -375 points
•Level 5 376 -500 points
* Proficiency level for
modern economy
and knowledge-based
society
Key Indicators of Literacy Performance
and their Implications
• The Average Score for the Population: Ideally the average score should be level
3, above 276 points. This indicates that the population as a whole has a literacy
level appropriate for working in a modern economy.
• The Average Score for Each Domain: The average score for Prose and
Document Literacy and Numeracy should be above level 3. The standard is not as
clear for Problem Solving. If the average for one of literacy or numeracy is below
level 3, it can affect the types of jobs that can be supported in the economy and
future growth.
• The Relative Standing in National Comparison: If provincial averages are below
the national average and if their average is lower than that of adjacent provinces,
there could be labour movement out of the province.
• Change between 1994 and 2003: If there is no significant improvement, it will be
necessary to re-examine the current levels of expenditure, the types of
programming and the people targeted.
• The Distribution of the Population among Levels: If there are more people at
lower levels compared to higher levels of literacy and numeracy, there are likely to
be a higher distribution of lower income jobs and higher expenditures for social
programs
International comparison
Some provinces and territories performed as well as, or even
better than, the best performing countries participating in the
ALL/IALSS
Mean scores with .95 confidence interval and scores at the 5th, 25th, 75th, and 95th percentiles on
proficiency scales ranging from 0 to 500 points, population aged 16 to 65, 2003
A. Prose literacy scale
Y.T.
Sask.
Norway
Bermuda
Alta.
B.C.
N.S.
Man.
P.E.I.
Canada
N.W.T.
Ont.
Que.
N.B.
Switzerland
N.L.
United States
Nvt.
Italy
Nuevo Leon, Mexico
0
Scale scores
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
Source: IALSS, 2003
500
National comparison
Comparisons of provinces and territories based on
average scores
Prose, population 16 and older, 2003
Jurisdiction
Y.T.
Sas.
Alta.
B.C.
N.S.
N.W.
T
Man.
P.E.I.
Yukon Territory
Saskatchewan
Alberta.
British Columbia
Nova Scotia
Northwest Territories
Manitoba
Prince Edward Island
Canada
Ontario
Quebec
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and
Labrador
Nunavut
Mean proficiency significantly higher than comparison jurisdiction
No statistically significant difference from comparison jurisdiction
Mean proficiency significantly lower than comparison jurisdiction
Can.
Ont.
Que.
N.B.
N.L.
Nvt
National comparison
Average literacy scores in provinces and territories varied
by literacy domain. Overall, average literacy scores
(population 16-65) were higher in Yukon and Western
provinces.
16-65 age
Canadian
average
Prose literacy
Document literacy
Numeracy
281
281
272
Problem solving
274
Performed
better than
Canada
average
Yukon(296),
Saskatchewan(294)
Alberta(289), British
Columbia(288)
Saskatchewan(294)
Yukon(293),
Alberta(290), British
Columbia(290)
Saskatchewan (284)
Yukon(283),
Alberta(281), British
Columbia(279)
Yukon(285),
Saskatchewan(284)
Alberta(281), British
Columbia(281),
Same as
Canada
average
Nova Scotia(286),
Manitoba(283), Prince
Edward Island (282),
Northwest Territories(280),
Ontario(279)
Nova Scotia(284),
Manitoba(283),
Northwest
Territories(280), Prince
Edward Island(281),
Ontario(279)
Nova Scotia(272),
Manitoba(271),
Ontario(270), Prince
Edward Island (269),
Quebec(269),
Northwest
Territories(269)
Nova Scotia (276),
Manitoba(275), Prince
Edward Island(271),
Ontario(271),
Quebec(271),
Northwest
Territories(269)
Lower than
Canada
average
Quebec(275), New
Brunswick(273),
Newfoundland and
Labrador(271), Nunavut(232)
Quebec(273), New
Brunswick(270),
Newfoundland and
Labrador(269),
Nunavut(234)
New Brunswick (262),
Newfoundland and
Labrador(257),
Nunavut(220)
New Brunswick (265),
Newfoundland and
Labrador(262),
Nunavut(227)
Source: IALSS, 2003
Figures in brackets: average scores
National comparison
Average Provincial Scores in Document and Prose Literacy
and Numeracy (population 16-65)
Province or Territory
Document
literacy
Prose literacy Numeracy
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Nunavut Territory
Northwest Territory
Yukon Territory
269
281
284
270
273
279
283
294
290
290
234
280
293
271
282
286
273
275
279
283
294
289
288
232
280
296
Figures in red – average score at level 2
257
269
272
262
269
270
271
284
281
279
220
269
283
Below level 3
in 3 domains
Below level 3
in Numeracy
but not in
literacy.
Source: IALSS, 2003
National comparison
The average provincial prose literacy scores in Canada
and potential for labour flows (population 16-65)
232
296
280
288
289
275
+6.4
- 6.0
+11.3*
294
279
283
271
282
- 4.6
273
286
Source: IALSS, 2003
National comparison
Yukon had the lowest proportion overall and among provinces,
AB, SK and BC had the lowest proportion of the working-age
population (population 16-65) with prose literacy below level 3.
Percent of population 16 to 65 at each prose level by provinces and territories, 2003
Level 2
Per cent
Level 1
Level 3
Level 4/5
100
80
60
29
24
26
23
39
42
20
19
20
20
21
19
15
14
14
42
41
39
38
37
38
37
36
35
40
20
40
43
8
20
0
20
40
60
80
un
av
ut
.B
.
N
.L
.
N
an
i to
ba
C
an
ad
a
O
nt
ar
io
N
.W
.T
.
P.
E
.I.
Q
ue
be
c
.S
.
N
.
Al
be
rta
B.
C
Sa
sk
.
Yu
ko
n
100
Source: IALSS, 2003
National comparison
Yukon, Saskatchewan, BC and Alberta had the lowest
proportion of working-age adults below level 3 in
numeracy
Percent of population 16 to 65 at each numeracy level by provinces and territories, 2003
Level 2
Per cent
Level 1
Level 3
Level 4/5
100
80
60
40
20
20
39
20
20
38
36
21
35
17
14
17
15
16
15
14
11
10
33
35
33
35
33
33
32
29
28
0
7
16
20
40
60
80
un
av
ut
.L
.
N
N
.B
.
N
.I.
P.
E
ue
be
c
Q
.W
.T
.
N
.S
.
N
.
Al
be
rta
C
an
ad
a
M
an
i to
ba
O
nt
ar
io
B.
C
Sa
sk
.
Yu
ko
n
100
Source: IALSS, 2003
Low literacy performance
The proportion of Canadians 16-65 performing at
levels 1 and 2 varied across domains and provinces
Per cent of adult populations 16-65 performing at levels 1 and 2 in IALSS 2003
100
Poor
90
80
70
60 50
50
40
72
50
43
49
42
38
43
40
33
35
35
42
31
30
20
Nf
ld
NW
an
d
La
br
ad
or
P.
E.
No
I.
v
Ne a S
co
w
t ia
Br
un
sw
ick
Q
ue
be
c
O
nt
ar
io
M
Sa ani
to
sk
ba
at
ch
ew
an
Br
itis Alb
er
h
ta
Co
lu
m
bi
a
Yu
ko
n
Good
T
Nu
na
vu
Ca t
na
da
10
0
Prose
Document
Numeracy
Problem Solving
Source: IALSS, 2003
Low literacy performance
Rough estimate of burden and required level of effort to
combat low literacy (population aged 16 to 65)
Prose
Level 1
Level 2
Total
%
Number
%
Number
%
Number
Newfoundland and
Labrador
18.8
70,000
31.6
119,000
50.4
189,000
Prince Edward Island
14.0
13,000
28.8
27,000
42.8
40,000
Nova Scotia
11.9
75,000
26.5
168,000
38.4
243,000
New Brunswick
16.6
85,000
33.8
173,000
50.4
258,000
Quebec
15.6
800,000
33.0
1,700,000
48.6
2,500,000
Ontario
16.2
1,300,000
26.0
2,100,000
42.2
3,400,000
Manitoba
12.7
90,000
27.0
200,000
39.7
290,000
Saskatchewan
6.6
41,000
26.4
162,000
33.0
203,000
Alberta
9.7
200,000
25.3
500,000
35.0
700,000
British Columbia
13.8
400,000
20.9
600,000
34.7
1,000,000
Yukon
9.0
2,000
21.9
4,000
30.9
6,000
Northwest Territory
16.5
4,000
26.1
7,000
42.6
11,000
Nunavut
45.8
6,000
26.4
3,000
72.0
9,000
Total 8,849,000
Low literacy performance
Rough estimate of burden and required level of effort to
combat low numeracy (population 16-65)
Numeracy level 1
Numeracy level 2
Total
%
Number
%
Number
%
Newfoundland and
Labrador
26.8
0.1m
34.3
0.1m
61.1
200,000
Prince Edward Island
19.2
18,000
34.8
33,000
54.0
50,000
Nova Scotia
19.7
0.1m
30.9
0.2m
50.6
300,000
New Brunswick
23.1
0.1m
37.2
0.2m
60.3
300,000
Quebec
20.0
1.0m
33.1
1.7m
53.1
2,700,000
Ontario
21.3
1.8m
29.1
2.4m
50.4
4,200,000
Manitoba
18.2
0.1m
32.1
0.2m
50.3
400,000
Saskatchewan
11.8
73,000
30.2
0.2m
42.0
300,000
Alberta
15.1
0.3m
29.3
0.6m
44.4
1,000,000
British Columbia
16.7
0.5m
27.0
0.8m
43.7
1,200,000
Yukon
14.1
3,000
26.4
5,000
40.5
8,000
Northwest Territory
22.0
6,000
29.0
7,000
51.0
13,000
Nunavut
54.7
7,000
22.6
3,000
77.3
10,000
Source: IALSS, 2003
Number
Total 10,681,000
Low literacy performance
The hidden problem: although the same people often
have low literacy and low numeracy, some have low
scores in only one domain
(population aged 16 to 65)
Document
Numeracy
Estimates
Level 1
Level 1
2,700,000
Level 1
Level 2
570,000
Level 1
Level 3 and above
40,000
Level 2
Level 1
1,300,000
Level 2
Level 2
3,400,000
Level 2
Level 3 and above
1,100,000
Level 3 and above
Level 1
140,000
Level 3 and above
Level 2
2,600,000
Source: IALSS, 2003
Change between 1994 and 2003
No change in average prose scores of Canadians
aged 16 to 65 in regions between 1994 and 2003
Level 3
range
IALS
1994
IALSS
2003
Diff.
276 - 325
278.8
280.8
1.9
276 - 325
274.0
277.9
3.9
276 - 325
272.6
272.7
0.1
Québec
276 - 325
264.1
275.3
11.3*
Ontario
276 - 325
283.3
278.7
- 4.6
Western
276 - 325
287.6
288.6
0.9
Alberta
276 - 325
295.3
289.3
- 6.0
British Columbia
276 - 325
281.8
288.2
6.4
Regions
Province
Canada
Atlantic
New Brunswick
* Change from 1994 is statistically significant.
Sources: IALSS, 2003 ; IALS, 1994.
Literacy performance over time
No change in average document scores of
Canadians regions between 1994 and 2003
(population 16 to 65)
Level 3
range
IALS
1994
ALL
2003
Diff.
276 - 325
279.3
286.6
1.3
276 - 325
269.4
276.2
6.7*
276 - 325
270.2
270.5
0.2
Québec
276 - 325
266.0
273.2
7.2
Ontario
276 - 325
285.9
279.2
- 6.7
Western
276 - 325
285.5
289.7
4.2
Alberta
276 - 325
290.7
290.2
- 0.5
British Columbia
276 - 325
281.7
289.9
8.2
Document
Regions
Canada
Atlantic
New Brunswick
* Change from 1994 is statistically significant.
Sources: IALSS, 2003 ; IALS, 1994-1998
Change between 1994 and 2003
In Ontario the number of people at Levels 4 and 5 in
document literacy dropped from 1994 to 2003
Proportion of population 16 to 65 performing at levels 1,2 ,3 and 4/5 in document,
Canada and regions, 1994 and 2003
15.5
Canada
27.0
17.9
11.7
Western
23.7
17.7
Quebec
Atlantic
28.7
30.0
22.2
0%
10%
32.8
32.8
17.2
30%
34.5
15.0
32.9
16.1
35.8
26.8
20%
20.8
30.7
22.2
Level 1
17.0
33.9
40%
50%
Level 2
1994
27.5
37.0
20.0
2003
25.5
34.7
25.4
16.5
25.7
39.1
23.3
16.8
20.5
32.7
23.7
14.5
Ontario
36.9
60%
Level 3
70%
17.0
80%
90%
Level 4/5
Sources: IALSS, 2003 ; IALS, 1994.
100%
Change between 1994 and 2003
The number of persons (16 to 65) with low literacy rose
from 8 m in 1994 to 9 m in 2003 though the percentage
(42%) did not change
IALS
IALSS
100%
22.30%
4.1 million
19.50%
4.2 million
80%
6.7 million
60%
36.4%
38.6%
8.2 million
40%
24.80%
20%
16.60%
0%
4.6 million
3.1 million
27.30%
14.60%
Total: 18.4 million
Level 1
*
Level 2
Level 3
5.8 million
3.1 million
Total: 21.4 million
Level 4/5
Differences at each level between IALS and ALL are not statistically significant
Source: IALSS, 2003; IALS, 1994.
Quebec literacy performance
Percent of Quebec population (16 to 65)
at each prose literacy level, in IALS and IALSS
Per cent
100
9.9
0.5 million
14.6
0.7 million
80
41.9
2.0 million
36.8
1.9 million
27.8
1.3 million
33.0
1.7 million
20.3
1.0 million
15.6
60
40
20
0
IALS
*
Total: 5.1 million
Total: 5.0 million
Level 1
Level 2
0.8 million
IALSS
Level 3
Level 4/5
Differences at each level between IALS and IALSS are not statistically significant
Sources: IALSS, 2003; IALS, 1994-1998
Equitable distribution
Provinces such as Saskatchewan and New Brunswick had
less inequity than other provinces in the distribution of
numeracy scores.
Mean scores with .95 confidence interval and scores at the 5th, 25th, 75th, and 95th percentiles
on numeracy proficiency scales ranging from 0 to 500 points, population aged 16-65, 2003
Sw itzerland
Norw ay
Saskatchew an
Yukon
Alberta
British Columbia
Canada
Nova Scotia
Manitoba
Ontario
Bermuda
Quebec
Prince Edw ard Island
Northw est Territories
New Brunsw ick
United States
New f oundland
Italy
Nunavut
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
Scale scores
Source: IALSS, 2003
500
Subgroups-Educated
Higher levels of education are associated with
higher levels of Prose proficiency
Prose literacy levels by educational attainment, population aged 26-65 years, Canada, 2003
100
Level 2
Level 1
Level 3
Level 4/5
80
60
40
20
0
20
40
60
80
100
Low er than High
School
High School
Trade
College
University
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Educated
In prose, higher levels of education are associated with
higher levels of proficiency (16 and over)
Prose proficiency by educational attainment, Canada, 2003
400
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
N
ew
fo
un
dl
an
d
C
an
P
a
nd ad
rin
ce
La a
Ed
br
ad
w
ar
or
d
Is
la
N
nd
ov
a
N
e w Sc
ot
Br
i
un a
sw
ic
k
Q
ue
be
c
O
nt
ar
io
M
a
S
as nito
ka
ba
tc
he
w
an
B
A
rit
lb
is
er
h
ta
C
o
Y
uk lu m
N
bi
on
or
a
th
T
er
w
es
r
t T itor
y
er
rit
or
ie
s
N
un
av
ut
0
Less than high school
High school
Trade Vocational
College
University
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups-Educated
Younger Canadians with the same education have
higher literacy proficiency than older Canadians but the
difference is moderated by degree of education
Mean prose literacy scores by educational attainment and age group, Canada 2003
330
310
average score
290
270
250
230
210
190
170
150
Lower than High
School
16 to 20
21 to 25
26 to 30
Trade
High School
31 to 35
36 to 40
41 to 45
College
46 to 50
51 to 55
University Graduate
56 to 60
Source: IALSS, 2003
61 to 65
Subgroups-Educated
Prose literacy proficiency by educational
attainment in the provinces and territories
Mean prose proficiency scores by education level, population 16 and over,
Canada and jurisdictions, 2003
Less than
Trade
high school High school vocational
College
Mean S.E. Mean S.E. Mean S.E. Mean S.E.
Newfoundland and Labrador 219 (3.4) 265 (4.0) 286 (3.8) 290 (5.1)
Prince Edward Island
230 (6.8) 280 (5.5) 279 (5.5) 303 (5.5)
Nova Scotia
241 (4.4) 281 (4.2) 288 (3.2) 305 (3.5)
New Brunswick
223 (4.6) 265 (5.1) 276 (7.1) 286 (4.5)
Quebec
227 (2.0) 262 (2.3) 275 (2.1) 290 (2.2)
Ontario
223 (4.9) 268 (3.9) 279 (3.9) 295 (4.1)
Manitoba
246 (5.5) 273 (3.4) 291 (4.4) 293 (3.4)
Saskatchewan
256 (6.2) 282 (7.0) 294 (3.3) 309 (4.3)
Alberta
241 (7.1) 279 (4.5) 290 (3.8) 295 (4.0)
British Columbia
239 (4.8) 277 (4.8) 290 (3.4) 306 (4.3)
Yukon
241 (7.5) 288 (5.6) 297 (4.5) 308 (4.7)
Northwest Territories
227 (6.3) 280 (7.6) 280 (3.6) 301 (4.0)
Nunavut
199 (6.1) 269 (7.8) 241 (8.5) 290 (12.3)
Canada
230 (1.8) 270 (1.8) 282 (1.7) 296 (1.8)
University
Mean S.E.
321 (3.9)
319 (7.9)
319 (4.2)
311 (7.2)
305 (2.5)
303 (3.1)
312 (4.4)
336 (5.2)
319 (4.2)
316 (4.4)
326 (4.7)
324 (6.3)
311 (6.2)
309 (2.0)
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Youth
In most provinces and territories, the majority of youth have
prose literacy proficiency at Level 3 or above
Distribution of proficiency level on the prose literacy scale for youth age 16-25, Canada, 2003
80
60
40
20
0
20
40
60
80
N
ew
ry
ta
uk
on
T
er
r
ito
lb
er
A
be
c
Q
ue
Y
as
ka
tc
he
w
an
a
bi
um
S
h
rit
is
fo
u
nd
l
B
N
ew
B
ru
C
ol
ns
w
ic
k
co
tia
S
io
ov
a
N
O
nt
ar
ba
an
ito
M
ra
do
La
b
d
an
an
d
E
ri n
ce
P
r
d
Is
ar
d
dw
tT
es
hw
or
t
N
la
n
rie
s
er
r
N
ito
un
a
vu
t
100
Level 2
Level 1
Level 3
Level 4/5
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Elderly
More than 80% of seniors had prose literacy
at levels 1 and 2
Distribution of proficiency level on the prose literacy scale, Canada, 2003
80
60
40
20
0
20
40
60
80
Level 2
Level 1
Level 3
Level 4/5
100
16 to 25
26 to 35
36 to 45
46 to 55
56 to 65
Older than 65
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Elderly
Educational attainment appears to moderate
and even delay a decline in proficiency as
Canadians age
Average scores by age, controlling for educational attainment, Canada and
Western provinces, 2003
Scale score
325
Mean prose score
300
Can. : 281
Yukon: 296
275
B.C. : 288
Alb. : 289
250
Sask.: 294
225
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Age
Saskatchew an
Alberta
British Columbia
Yukon
Canada
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Gender
Significant gender differences in average scores are
evident for document literacy and for numeracy
Prose
Average Proficiency by domain and gender, population 16 and over, Canada, 2003
Legend
(black line) mean score
(light blue) 25th percentile
(dark blue) 50th percentile
(dark blue) 75th percentile
(light blue) 100 percentile
Female
Document
Female
Numeracy
Female
Problem
Solving
Male
Female
Male
Male
Male
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
Scale scores
Source: IALSS, 2003
450
500
Subgroups – Aboriginal people
The prose literacy performance of the urban Aboriginal
populations, 16 and over, is lower than that of non
aboriginals in Saskatchewan and Manitoba
Comparative distributions of prose literacy proficiency by level, per cent of Aboriginal and nonAboriginal populations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, aged 16 and over, 2003
80
60
40
Level 4/5
20
Level 3
0
Level 1
20
Level 2
40
60
80
Total
Canada
NonAboriginal
Urban
Aboriginal
Saskatchewan
NonAboriginal
Urban
Aboriginal
Manitoba
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups – Aboriginal people
Over half of the Aboriginal people in the Yukon, 69 percent of
the Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories and 88 per
cent of Inuit in Nunavut scored below level 3 in prose literacy
Comparative distributions of prose literacy proficiency by level, per cent of Aboriginal and nonAboriginal populations in the Northern Territories, aged 16 and over, 2003
80
60
40
20
Level 4/5
0
Level 3
20
Level 1
40
Level 2
60
80
100
Total
Canada
Aboriginal
NonAboriginal
Yukon Territory
Aboriginal
NonAboriginal
Northwest Territories
Inuit
Non-Inuit
Nunavut
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups – Aboriginal people
For each age group in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the
average scores for non-aboriginal people is higher than
those of urban aboriginal people (population 16 and over)
16-25 years
26-45 years
46 years and over
330
Average prose literacy score
310
290
270
250
230
210
190
170
150
Total
Canada
Urban Aboriginal
Non-Aboriginal
Manitoba
Urban Aboriginal
Non-Aboriginal
Saskatchewan
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups – Aboriginal people
Average prose literacy proficiency by age groups,
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations in Territories,
aged 16 and over, 2003
16-25 years
26-45 years
46 years and over
Average prose literacy scores
330
310
290
270
250
230
210
190
170
150
Total
Canada
Aboriginal
NonAboriginal
Yukon
Aboriginal
NonAboriginal
Northwest Territories
Inuit
Non-Inuit
Nunavut
Source: IALSS, 2003
Minority linguistic groups
Literacy performance of Francophones (population 16
and over) opting to take the test in English
•
Outside of Quebec, approximately 65% of Francophones were
assessed in English.
•
In New Brunswick 33%, in Ontario 64% and Manitoba 84% of
Francophones took the assessment in English.
•
Francophones who were assessed in English have higher average
prose literacy than those who were assessed in French.
•
53% of Francophones living outside of Quebec who took the test in
English scored below level 3 in prose literacy compared to 61 per
cent of those who took the test in French.
Minority linguistic groups
Literacy performance of Anglophones (population 16
and over) opting to take the test in French
•
Outside Québec, 99.9% of Anglophones were assessed in English.
•
In Quebec, approximately 19% of Anglophones were assessed in
French.
•
They represent about 89,000 out of the 470,000 Anglophones in
Québec.
•
An equal share of Allophones were assessed in French and in
English in Quebec.
•
In Quebec, there are no significant differences in prose literacy
proficiency between Francophones and Anglophones at the same
level of educational attainment.
Minority linguistic groups
The proportion of Francophones scoring below level 3
is higher than the proportion of Anglophones
Distribution of the population (16 and over) by mother tongue and prose literacy proficiency
level, Quebec, New-Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba, 2003
80
Level 2
Level 1
Level 3
Level 4/5
60
40
20
0
20
40
60
80
English
French
New Brunsw ick
English
French
Quebec
English
French
Ontario
English
French
Manitoba
English
French
Canada
Source: IALSS, 2003
Minority linguistic groups
Average prose scores by mother tongue and highest
level of educational attainment, Canada minus Québec
Distribution of the population by mother tongue and highest level of education and average prose
scores, Canada minus Québec, population 16 and over, 2003
English (Outside Quebec)
French (Outside Quebec)
350
330
310
290
270
250
230
210
190
170
150
Elementary or less
Lower secondary
Upper secondary
*Difference at elementary or less level is not significant
High school / trade
/business school
diploma
Post-secondary
without degree
University degree
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Immigrants
A signficantly higher proportion of immigrants have low literacy
compared to their Canadian-born counterparts, and the proportion
does not vary by their length of stay in Canada
Distribution of recent immigrant, established immigrant and native born populations by level of
Prose performance, ages 16-65, Canada, 2003
Level 2
Level 1
Level 3
Level 4/5
80
60
10 years or less
40
More than 10 years
20
0
20
40
60
80
100
Native
Canadian
born
Recent
Established
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Immigrants
The literacy performance of immigrants was higher among
those with mother tongue the same as the language of test
Prose
Document
Numeracy
Problem
solving
Immigrant status
Mean
Mean
Mean
Mean
Canadian born
280
278
269
273
Immigrants - mother tongue
same as test language
269
269
259
257
Immigrants - mother tongue
different from test language
234
238
235
230
Source: ALL, 2003
Low literacy performance
Main characteristics of people at level 1 and 2
in prose IALSS
(population 16-65)
Level 1
Level 2
• 3.1 million
• 5.8 million
• 1.4 million were immigrants
• 1.2 million were immigrants
• 54% were male and 46% female
• 52% were male and 48% female
• 60% were employed
• 70% were employed
• 12% were unemployed
• 8% were unemployed
• Education:
• Education:
•50% less than high school;
•28% less than high school;
•30% had completed high
school
•37% had completed high
school
•20% had post-secondary
education
•35% had post-secondary
education
Source: IALSS, 2003
Subgroups - Labor force
62% of employed Canadians have document proficiency
scores at level 3 or above.
Per cent of labour force population by document literacy levels, population 16 to 65, Canada and
Regions, 2003
British
Canada Territories Columbia
Pariries
Ontario
Quebec
Atlantic
Level 1
Level 2
Level3
Level 4/5
Employed
Unemployed
Not in the labour f orce
Employed
Unemployed
Not in the labour f orce
Employed
Unemployed
Not in the labour f orce
Employed
Unemployed
Not in the labour f orce
Employed
Unemployed
Not in the labour f orce
Employed
Unemployed
Not in the labour f orce
Employed
Unemployed
Not in the labour f orce
0
20
40
%
60
80
100
Subgroups - Labor force
Knowledge intensive sectors hire workers with
higher average scores in the four domains
Average scores in the four literacy domains, labour force 16-65 years, by industry, Canada, 2003
Prose s.e Document s.e Numeracy s.e Problem solving s.e
Knowledge-intensive market service activities
296.6 (1.9)
298.0
(2.1)
292.0 (2.4)
288.1
(2.0)
Public administration, defense, education and health
302.8 (1.3)
299.9
(1.4)
287.3 (1.3)
291.3
(1.5)
Other community, social and personal services
286.2 (3.1)
287.0
(3.5)
276.7 (4.2)
278.7
(2.9)
High and medium-high-techonology manufacturing industries 282.6 (4.2)
286.8
(5.3)
284.7 (5.2)
277.1
(4.8)
Low and medium-low-technology manufacturing industries 265.0 (2.8)
267.3
(2.7)
262.2 (2.6)
261.0
(2.8)
Utilities and Construction
273.6 (2.3)
278.3
(2.7)
273.5 (2.8)
268.6
(2.7)
Wholesale, retail, hotels and restaurants
276.2 (2.2)
276.6
(2.2)
267.3 (2.3)
271.1
(2.5)
Transport and storage
280.5 (3.1)
282.1
(3.7)
277.0 (3.7)
274.2
(4.2)
Primary industries
271.1 (4.1)
272.6
(4.3)
269.4 (3.8)
267.0
(3.9)
Source: IALSS, 2003
Low literacy performance
IALSS evidence can be used to make choices and set priorities
(Canada population 16-65)
6.3 million Canadians at levels 1&2
2.6 million immigrants at levels 1&2
IALSS Levels 1 & 2
9 million
Not in labour force
2.2 million
Incl. 652K immigrants
In labour force
6.7 million
Incl. 2.0 million immigrants
Employed
5.9 million
Incl. 1.7 million immigrants
Unemployed
848K
Incl. 240K immigrants
Top 60% of earners 3.7 million
Incl. 1.1 million immigrants
Bottom 40% of earners 1.8 million
Incl. 532K immigrants
Source: IALSS, 2003
Low literacy performance
About 9 million Canadians (aged 16 to 65) scored at levels
1 and 2 in prose literacy in IALSS 2003
Level 1
Level 2
Frequency
Frequency
225000
225000
200000
200000
175000
175000
150000
150000
125000
125000
100000
100000
5% of population
75000
75000
50000
50000
25000
25000
0
0
31
98
123
148
173
Prose scores
198
223
226
231
236
241
246
251
256
261
266
Prose scores
Source: IALSS, 2003
271
276
Target the most in need
Working age Canadians with Level 1 literacy in the
labour force (population 16-65)
Income Quintiles
Total
•Low - bottom two quintiles
(Prose Level 1)
•Med - middle quintile
3,1 million
•High - top two quintiles
Male
Female
1,7 million
1.4
54.8%
45.2%
Employed
Unemployed
Employed
Unemployed
1,1 million
177,000
700,000
185,000
65.4%
10.7%
75.7%
15.1%
High
Med
Low
243,000
280,000
High
432,000
Med
45.2%
29.3%
Low
367,000
25.5%
Target: 972,000
56.9%
173,000
105,000
16.2%
26.8%
Source: IALSS, 2003
Target the most in need
Working age Canadians with Level 2 literacy in the
labour force (population 16-65)
Income Quintiles
Total
•Low - bottom two quintiles
(Prose Level 2)
•Med - middle quintile
5,8 million
•High - top two quintiles
Male
Female
3,0 million
2.8 million
51.7%
48.3%
Employed
Unemployed
Employed
Unemployed
2,3 million
224,000
1,8 million
262,000
77.3%
7.4%
69.4%
10.2%
High
1.3 million
Med
Low
425,000
High
491,000
Med
58.1%
22.5%
Low
738,000
19.4%
Target: 1,649,000
46.3%
463,000
464,000
27.8%
27.8%
Source: IALSS, 2003
HIGHLIGHTS
• Canadian provinces and territories performed well in the international
comparison. All provinces with the exception of New Brunswick,
Newfoundland and Nunavut had average scores higher than the United
States in prose literacy.
• The average prose scores for Yukon, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British
Columbia and Nova Scotia were not different from the average scores
for Norway and Bermuda, the top scoring countries in 2003.
• The number of people 16- 65 with low literacy rose from 8 m in 1994 to
9 m in 2003 though the percentage (42%) did not change.
• There was no change in the average literacy scores for the working age
population except for an increase in the average prose literacy score in
Quebec and in the average document literacy score in the Atlantic.
• The average literacy scores of all provinces were at level 3, except for
Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut.
The average numeracy scores for all provinces were at level 3, except
for New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nunavut.
HIGHLIGHTS
• Four provinces and territories have averages at level 2 on all three
domains (prose, document and numeracy) – Newfoundland and
Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec and Nunavut. However, except
for Nunavut, the averages are very close to the cut off for level 3.
• 5 provinces and territories have averages scores for Numeracy at
level 2 though their average scores for literacy are at level 3.
These are Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba
and Northwest Territory.
• Yukon had the lowest proportion overall and among provinces, AB,
SK and BC had the lowest proportion of the population with prose
literacy below level 3.
• 9 out 13 jurisdictions have about 50 % their population with
numeracy below level 3.
• Three provinces, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, have 7 m
of the 9 m persons with low literacy.
• Two and a half million people had both literacy and numeracy
below level 3.
HIGHLIGHTS
• Provinces such as Saskatchewan and New Brunswick had less inequity
than other provinces in the distribution of numeracy scores.
• Across all four domains, higher levels of education are associated with
higher levels of proficiency
• In most provinces and territories, the majority of youth have prose literacy
proficiency at Level 3 or above.
• More than 80% of seniors scored at levels 1 and 2 in prose literacy.
• Proficiency in prose literacy tends to decrease with age.
• Educational attainment appears to moderate and even delay a decline in
proficiency but the patterns are different across provinces.
• The prose literacy performance of the Aboriginal populations surveyed is
lower than that of the Canadian population.
• Younger aboriginal people have higher scores than older ones but all age
groups score lower than non aboriginal persons.
HIGHLIGHTS
• The proportion of Francophones scoring below level 3 is higher than the
proportion of Anglophones.
• In Quebec, there are no significant differences in prose literacy proficiency
between Francophones and Anglophones at the same level of educational
attainment.
• Anglophones outside of Quebec have slightly higher average scores than
Francophones at every educational level except elementary schooling.
• Overall immigrants of working age performed significantly below the
Canadian born population. The average prose literacy score for Canadians
excluding immigrants is roughly 8 points higher, which places Canada at the
level of the highest performing countries such as Norway and Bermuda.
• Recent immigrants (10 years or less) and established immigrants (more
than 10 years) have the same average score in all four domains and have
the same proportion scoring below level 3 in all four domains.
• Immigrants whose mother tongue was neither English nor French have
lower average scores in all four domains compared to immigrants whose
mother tongue is one of the two official languages.
HIGHLIGHTS
• A higher percentage of men than women have proficiency levels below level 3
• About 62 per cent of employed Canadians have average document literacy
scores at Level 3 or above. In contrast, over half of unemployed Canadians
have document literacy scores below Level 3
• Knowledge intensive sectors hire workers with higher average scores in the
four domains
• There are 972,000 Canadians at level 1 who are either unemployed or
employed but earning low income. There are 1,649,000 at level 2 who are
either unemployed or employed but earning low income. Together they total
2,621,000 Canadians who are in the most need of literacy assistance.
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