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Assessing Literacy Across a Changing World

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Science  23 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5977, pp. 433-434
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183092

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When public schooling began to expand access to education in the 19th century, literacy was mainly about learning to read, a set of technical skills that individuals would acquire once for a lifetime in order to process a fairly established body of coded knowledge. For most, though not all, individuals in the industrialized world, those technical reading skills can now largely be taken for granted (1). But literacy requirements have shifted toward reading for learning—the capacity to identify, understand, interpret, create, and communicate knowledge, using written materials associated with varying situations in changing contexts. These skills have now become an almost universal requirement for success in the industrialized world (2).