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8 million Australians unable to cope with math demands

By Murray Bourne, 06 Dec 2007

Update: The 2011 results are now in, so here they are.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the 2011 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS) results.

According to the ABS:

The ALLS provides information on knowledge and skills in the following four domains;

  • Prose literacy
  • Document literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Problem solving

There are 5 skill levels, with level 1 being the lowest.

To assist with interpreting the results, Level 3 is regarded by the survey developers as the "minimum required for individuals to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work in the emerging knowledge-based economy"

Comments on the 2006 results

The results are very sad. For Prose Literacy (defined as "the ability to understand and use information from various kinds of narrative texts, including texts from newspapers, magazines and brochures"),

... approximately 7 million (46%) Australians aged 15 to 74 years had scores at Level 1 or 2

Mathematics does not look very good either. The numeracy scale (defined as "the knowledge and skills required to effectively manage and respond to the mathematical demands of diverse situations") gave the following result:

On the numeracy scale, approximately 7.9 million (53%) Australians were assessed at Level 1 or 2.

Oh dear. It does not make pretty reading.

See the report at: 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey.

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  1. Use simple calculator-like input in the following format (surround your math in backticks, or qq on tablet or phone):
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