Developed by the Education Testing Service, the PDQ (Prose, Document, and Quantitative) profile series is electronic adult literacy tests that assess skills according to the IALS/ES scale. The tests measure proficiency in the prose, document, and quantitative domains. PDQ testing is offered online and provides insight into areas where literacy improvement is needed using authentic, adult context tasks that are scored automatically. It can also be used for evaluating how much progress a learner has made. PDQ is being considered for use by some Ontario literacy agencies because it adjusts to skill levels, allows learners to complete the test at their own pace, reports results using the IALS/ES scoring scales, and identifies learners’ strengths and weaknesses. Unlike CAMERA or TOWES, questions are not workplace focused, but cover a wide variety of contexts and texts including home and family, health and safety, community and citizenship, consumer economics, and work, leisure, and recreation. For more information about the PDQ test, please seewww.ets.org/literacy/about/content/pdq_profile_content


TOWES (Testing of Workplace Essential Skills) (www.towes.com/en/home/home) was developed by Bow Valley College in Alberta. The system uses workplace documents to measure the Essential Skills of Reading Text, Document Use, and Numeracy. TOWES is marketed to employers wishing to improve the skills of their workforce, training materials and assessments test Levels 1 through 5.


AlphaPlus Centre: Skills at Work Series
The Skills at Work series is a combination of workbooks and practitioner guides that focus on ES development for the workforce. Learning activities tie into a variety of occupations selected from NOC. On-line activities are available at the AlphaRoute site. (Alpharoute resources.)

Applications of Working and Learning (AWAL)
For literacy practitioners who are looking for authentic workplace materials to weave into their curriculum, AWAL (www.awal.ca) can be a handy tool. Much like the Essential Skills authentic workplace materials site, the AWAL database is available on-line and provides materials that have been authorized for public use. The activities and materials are not specific to adult learning environment, so items must be carefully screened for appropriate use.

Essential Skills Curriculum
shopbagLiteracy Link Eastern Ontario (LLEO) was contracted by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) to develop ES curriculum for entry level jobs. A variety of eight titles are already available for purchase on CD, and several more will be added in the spring of 2008. The learning activity units, which evaluate and develop learners’ Essential Skills on an authentic platform, double as excellent professional develop for practitioners. Visit (www.lleo.ca/LLEO_pages/resources.html) for this and other ES related resources.

ESPORT: Essential Skills Portfolio
Run by the John Howard Society, ESPORT ( ) focuses on pre-employment skill development, occupational exploration, and workforce entry. Using information from the ES Profiles, students are guided and supported through a computer-based training module.

Ontario Skills Passport (OSP)
Geared more towards adult learners who are ready to explore the world of work, this site provides useful links to job search resources and utilizes the ES scale to help learners understand and develop the skills they need for specific occupations. Practitioners can use OSP to help learners develop an Essential Skills portfolio that will document their demonstration of skills. An ES “Check In and Check Up” tool will be added in 2008.

Making Essential Skills WORK for You
This useful ES resource was developed by Laubach Literacy Ontario, and can be downloaded at (www.laubach-on.ca/teach/materials/essentialskills). This resource focuses on Oral Communication, Problem Solving, Document Use, Working with Others, and Job Task Planning and Organizing (time management). While the learning activities are workplace oriented, they can be easily adapted to independence goals. For example, Chapter 3 supports students in developing daily “to do” lists, and then asks them to set priorities. Chapter 4 helps students navigate a city bus schedule. Essential Skill and LBS outcomes are both highlighted.

Ready for Work
Simcoe/Muskoka Literacy Network is in the final stages of piloting six workforce curricula to prepare LBS level 1 and 2 learners for entry-level positions (Spring 2008). Each unit has been articulated to Essential Skills. They have also prepared an ES module for practitioners that offers a variety of learner activities. A manual will be available with the spring release.

SkillPlan – Numeracy at Work
Developed by the BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council,Numeracy at Work is a collection of numeracy focused examples from the workplace, designed to be used as Essential Skill development activities. SkillPlan uses the ES Numeracy scale, providing instruction in Money Math, Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Math, Measurement and Calculation Math, Data Analysis Math, and Numerical Estimation. While the focus is on the workplace, skills gained are transferable to other non-employment related areas. ES complexity levels are not specifically spelled out; however, literacy practitioners can determine approximate skill level based on the summary of skills at the beginning of each chapter. Visit (http://www.skillplan.ca/tools-and-publications ) to review other Essential Skills at Work resources available for purchase.

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