STEP Framework

Assessment or survey framework

Reading literacy assessment

Definition: The STEP conception of literacy is based on the same concept used in PIAAC, where it has been defined as “understanding, evaluating, using, and engaging with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”

The following (central) aspects of the construct were taken into consideration when selecting the texts and developing the items included in the core assessment:

  • Contexts for reading
    • The assessment must include material from a broad range of settings.
    • Therefore, the texts included in the STEP assessment comprise the following contexts: home and family, health and safety, community and citizenship, work and training, education, and leisure and recreation.
  • Cognitive processes with text
    • Access and identify information in the text.
    • Integrate and interpret (relating parts of the text to each other).
    • Evaluate and reflect (understanding the text as a whole).

Extension: Reading components

As an extension of the core literacy assessment, STEP also includes an assessment of reading components.

  • Goal: Provide information on the reading abilities of adults with poor skills in order to get a proper understanding of their difficulties.
  • Basic principle: Comprehension processes (i.e., the “meaning construction” processes of reading) are built on a foundation of component print skills—the knowledge of how one’s language is represented in one’s writing system.
  • Components
    • Word meaning (print vocabulary)
    • Sentence processing
    • Passage comprehension
Contextual or background framework

Household-level information

  • Household roster (all members of the household)
    • Name, age, gender, relationship to head for all household members
    • Education status and self-reported literacy of all members aged 6 and over
    • Marital and labor force status of all members aged 15 and over
  • Dwelling characteristics
    • Construction materials, number of rooms, source of water and energy, toilets
    • Tenure status
    • Inventory of household consumer goods, appliances, and vehicles, number of books
    • Ownership of bank accounts, receipt of social benefits

Individual respondent information

  • Background
    • Education and training
      • Participation in early childhood education
      • Level of formal education and whether academic or vocational
      • Field of study for highest qualification
      • Reasons for leaving school early (if applicable)
      • Reasons for interrupting schooling (if applicable)
      • Apprenticeship and trade
      • Number of training courses
      • Participation in literacy courses
      • School class rank
      • Parental encouragement
    • Health and lifestyle preferences
      • Overall satisfaction with life
      • Height, weight, health in last 4 weeks, chronic health problems and severity
      • Health insurance coverage
    • Employment
      • Employment status, whether self-employment or casual work
      • Reasons for not working, job search methods, reasons for not looking for work (if applicable)
      • Minimum acceptable wage, occupations for which qualified (if not working)
      • Occupation, tenure, industry, hours worked, other occupations for which qualified
      • Class of worker (wage or salary, daily or piecework, self-employed with or without employees)
      • Wage, salary, or profits per time period, in-kind payments
      • Employment sector (public or private, domestic or foreign, individual, NGO)
      • Size of employer, social benefits coverage
    • Language and family background
      • Languages (native language, other specific language proficiencies)
      • Mother’s and father’s educational attainment
      • Family size and composition, socio-economic status when 12 years old, family adversity
      • Experience as child laborer, occupation
  • Skills
    • Self-reported cognitive skills and job-relevant skills
      • Inventory of reading tasks performed on job (or in general), length of longest document read
      • Inventory of writing tasks performed on job (or in general), length of longest written document
      • Inventory of math tasks performed on job (or in general)
      • Whether lack of reading and writing skills hindered employment, promotion, or pay raise
      • Frequency of difficult problem-solving on job
      • Level of on-job involvement with customers, clients, students, or the public
      • Whether making of formal presentations is part of job
      • Supervisory responsibilities, job autonomy, repetitiveness, continuous learning
      • Level of physical job demands
      • Inventory of technology use on job (including computer use and inventory of software use)
      • Computer use outside work and inventory of software use
      • Whether lack of computer skills has hindered employment, promotion, or pay raise
      • Usefulness of own studies at school for current job
      • Level of education and related job experience required for current job, job learning time
      • Job search skills, whether employer required formal credentials or other proof of skills
    • Socio-emotional skills
      • Aspects
        • Personality traits (conscientiousness, openness to experience, neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion)
        • Behavior
        • Preferences
      • Type of items
        • Frequency of diagnostic behaviors (e.g., extraversion)
        • Risk preference scale