A position paper on international benchmarking

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This paper responds to the question: how can IALS data cease to be the international benchmark for the level of adult basic skills in Britain? It refers especially to OECD databases and publications since these have been the major vehicle for disseminating IALS-based international comparisons. EU publications, for example, have been less inclined to emphasise IALS or other OECD-sponsored survey results.

The relative attractions of different options will depend on why continuing to use IALS results is seen as unsatisfactory. There are three possible reasons:

  1. They are increasingly out of date, since they take no account of the intensive programmes which many OECD countries have undertaken in order to raise basic skills levels
  2. They are considered to be inadequate/flawed in some way
  3. They do not relate to the National Standards which now form the basis for teaching and learning basic skills in this country, and for evaluating the success of the National Strategy.

We do not make any judgements about the relative importance of these issues, but do distinguish between them in our discussion of options.

Brooks, G. and Wolf, A. (2002) A position paper on international benchmarking NRDC: London

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