The Essential Adult Skills Initiative

Core skills such as literacy, numeracy and problem solving are critical to success in today’s workplace and in life. Yet, concern over whether postsecondary graduates lack these essential skills is growing.

To gain a better understanding of the situation, HEQCO is piloting an international test that will attempt to evaluate core skills in first-year and graduating college and university students in Ontario. The Essential Adult Skills Initiative (EASI) marks the first time such a test has been administered in Canada at the postsecondary level.

Started in 2016, it administered the Education and Skills Online (ESO), an assessment widely used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that measures literacy, numeracy and problem-solving abilities of adults using everyday scenarios. More than 4,600 first- and final-year students participated in the pilot. 

One measure won’t answer all the questions about graduates’ skills acquisition, but it is an important first step.

HEQCO completed two large-scale trials involving more than 7,500 students at 20 Ontario universities and colleges to measure literacy, numeracy and critical-thinking skills in entering and graduating students. The results of the trials are contained in the report On Test: Skills, Summary of Findings from HEQCO’s Skills Assessment Pilot Studies

On Test: Skills, Summary of Findings from HEQCO’s Skills Assessment Pilot Studies

One-quarter of graduating students score below adequate on measures of literacy, numeracy One of the first major attempts to measure employment-related skills in university and college students on a large scale shows that students are experiencing some gains in literacy, numeracy and critical-thinking scores over the course of their undergraduate studies. Yet, one in four […]