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What Are Literacy Standards?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2014
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Literacy standards are the accepted qualifiers that establish whether someone can read and write at an agreed upon level of competency. Literacy can be assessed either for an individual or a group of people. Experts in public administration, education, or other fields, often talk about literacy as a collective ability for a regional population.

Basic literacy is a standard that has been developed over many centuries of human society. In past times, literacy rates for many societies were quite low. Oral and verbal traditions helped the majority of people to interact without written communication. Indeed, some cultures actually regulated which parts of society were permitted to have these skills, as they were seen as being dangerous in the wrong hands. In more recent times, literacy has improved in a broad range of countries and areas of the world, not just in the most developed countries, or in the upper classes.

In addition to basic literacy, which is the ability to read and write in general, other types of literary standards have emerged in modern society. Many of these relate to advanced communications or information tasking that goes beyond an ability to simply read and write. These abilities require more sophisticated kinds of communication skills that might include a broader knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, the ability to use computers, or even the knowledge of foreign languages.

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One example of advanced literacy standards is called information literacy. Today’s experts define information literacy broadly as the ability to seek knowledge through data handling, which includes not only reading, but also accessing information in various mediums. For example, using the Internet to get the most recent news about a given topic can be part of information literacy standards.

In a more general sense, many people now talk about hyperliteracy as a necessary skill for people in many modern job markets. Hyperliteracy can include computer skills, as well as the ability to accurately interpret written information. Math skills can also be seen as a kind of hyperliteracy, something that people may need, in order to get even basic employment in job markets that have less to do with manufacturing and labor, and more to do with services and communication.

Another kind of literacy standard that goes beyond basic literacy is known as scientific literacy. This kind of literacy standard is somewhat industry-specific. Scientific literacy involves the ability to ask the right questions about data, or to employ the scientific process and analytical reasoning skills for research. Scientific literacy is something that usually only pertains to the scientific or medical job market, an academic environment, or some other scenario where individuals need these advanced skills.

Planners and officials use all sorts of literacy standards for identifying the needs of a population and trying to improve its collective abilities. Using literacy standards can empower social programs to assist families in their search for education that will help them provide for their financial needs. These kinds of metrics can also help to determine other specific problems in communities, and to develop accurate solutions.

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