Literacy and Basic Skills Levels


In Ontario, adult literacy instructors have defined 5 levels of skill or complexity to describe the work they are doing with their students. Below are summaries of levels 1 to 4 for reading and writing. I’ve left out level 5 because we seldom get students working at that level. By the time they reach level 4 they’re ready to move on.

By the way, these are not the same as the 5 levels of the International Adult Literacy Survey (groan).

Level Reading Writing
1 understands simple, concrete ideas, presented in logical sequence, in very short texts about familiar topics. (e.g. simple recipe) writes a few sentences for personal everyday use, using some basic conventions of grammar, spelling and punctuation. (e.g. short note to roommate)
2 understands concrete information and reads between the lines in short uncomplicated texts; uses common reading strategies and background knowledge to aid comprehension. (e.g. short news article about familiar event) writes for a variety of familiar purposes and audiences; 1 or 2 paragraphs on a single topic; chooses vocabulary appropriate for the audience. (e.g. letter to relative)
3 makes judgments about ideas and information in a variety of texts that have some complexity of content and form. (e.g. article discussing a local issue) writes for a variety of specific purposes and audiences; several paragraphs are developed to convey a main idea; chooses appropriate style; more variety in forms of grammar and punctuation are used. (e.g. letter applying for a job)
4 analyzes, synthesizes and draws conclusions about ideas, information and the writer’s perspective in texts that are complex in form and content. (e.g. editorial about political controversy) writes longer, organized passages; paragraphs are well-developed and linked, containing supporting details that convey a main idea; more complex grammar and punctuation are used as well as more obscure or technical vocabulary. (e.g. incident report for work)

Recently, the Ontario Government has changed how it defines literacy levels. They have transformed the 5 level LBS system to a 3 level OALCF system (Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework). Both will be discussed in class.

Session 3 Index