Learning Progressions FAQs

Here are some of the questions that employers often ask about the learning progressions and the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool.

These resources were developed with the support of Education Unlimited.

What are the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions?

  • The learning progressions are an educational framework for adult reading, writing, speaking, listening and numeracy. They describe what people are able to do at six different levels (known as steps).
  • They have been developed as a national resource for the adult literacy, language and numeracy sector.
  • The progressions are designed to help plan programmes and to identify next steps or gaps for learners as they develop expertise in these important areas.

What do these steps mean my employees will be able to do?

  • Step 1 is the lowest level. Here your staff will be able to, for example:
    • read single words/everyday words -  often helped by accompanying pictures
    • write short notes such as shopping lists, fill in simple forms
    •  follow and take part in short conversations where the context and language are familiar
    • do simple addition, subtraction and multiplication that involves small numbers.
  • At Step 3 your staff will be able to, for example:
    • read with some confidence, but will find it difficult when they don’t know the topic or they come across some technical language
    • write in paragraphs for reports and check spelling and grammar
    • follow and take part in conversations where the topic and language as not overly familiar to them
    • can work with whole numbers but not able to work with fractions and percentages.

You can look at the presentations on this page for more details about what your employees will be able to do at each step.

Why are the steps represented by a koru? 

Each step on a learning progression represents increasing competence. The initial step is represented by a single koru, the next step by a pikopiko with two fronds and so on. 

How do we know what step our employees are on?

By using the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool. The results from the Assessment Tool tell you what step of the learning progressions your employees are on for each area assessed.

What is the Assessment Tool?

  • The Assessment Tool has been designed to help find out where people’s core skills are at on each learning progression from step 1 through to step 6. 
  • It is designed to help you and your employees to understand what skills they have and where they can improve. It supports people taking control and responsibility for their own personal learning journey.
  • It is a tangible way for people to know (often for the first time) what skills they have and where they can improve.

What about people who aren’t yet on a ‘step’?

There is a Starting Points step which is generally for people who identify as English speakers of other languages (ESOL). This ‘step’ sits on the continuum before Step 1.

What the Assessment Tool is not!

  • The Assessment Tool is not designed to be a pass or fail ‘test’
  • The Assessment Tool is not the only method that should be used to gauge skills. It is useful, but it is not the only way to know about your employee’s skills.

What is the Assessment Tool useful for?

  • It is one way to help you know that the role your employee is doing best suits their current skills. It will also help you to know if the training that you are investing for your employees is hitting the mark.
  • The tool often shows up people’s spiky profile. In other words, a person may use numeracy in their job and therefore they will profile at a higher step than if they attempt the reading assessment. We all have spiky profiles so this is not uncommon. 
  • Adults may have rusty skills. This means that we might have the underlying skills in a particular area, but we haven’t had any reason to use these skills. This often shows up at the end of a programme when those rusty skills have been tapped into and unlocked, and people can be seen to make exceptional progress in what is often a relatively short space of time.
  • The assessment tool is very useful when we support people to register and actively use Pathways Awarua. They can ‘plot’ their assessment step results and then get into online self-paced learning where they start where they actually at, instead of having to go back to the very beginning if this is not where they need to be. This is very empowering for people and supports progress in formal workplace based training.