The term progression implies a continuous, sequential movement towards expertise rather than a series of separate tasks to be mastered in order to move “up”. For this reason, individual steps within a progression are distinguished from one another by referring to their place in the sequence (for example, the second step in the Reading Comprehension progression) rather than by using definitive numbers or levels.
The steps in the learning progressions can also be imagined as signposts, each one indicating a significant stage of development. The progressions describe the learning represented by each signpost. Because not all learning occurs at the same rate, these signposts are not always evenly spaced. Development within any one strand or progression is not even and some of the shifts in development involve more learning than others. The amount of learning needed will also depend on the learner. Adults do not all learn in the same way. Some need to spend more time than others on learning or consolidating certain skills.
For some steps in some of the progressions, learners need to develop prerequisite knowledge, skills, or strategies in one or more of the other progressions before new learning can take place. For example, in the Read with Understanding strand, a learner requires vocabulary knowledge in order to comprehend written texts and therefore the learner’s use of strategies in the Comprehension progression will generally be a step behind their vocabulary knowledge. In an example from the Make Sense of Number to Solve Problems strand, a learner would need to have reached at least the second step of both the Number Sequence progression and the Number Facts progression before they would be able to work at the third step of the Additive Strategies progression. Although some of these prerequisites are obvious, others depend on the learner’s relative expertise, the learner’s prior knowledge, or the challenges of the task in hand.
The learning progressions for reading, writing, speaking and listening pick up the learning process from a point where some basic, essential skills, knowledge and attitudes have already been developed .5 These include the ability to articulate words and to hear the sounds of whole words and a basic understanding of concepts about print. These progressions go on to identify the key steps along a continuum up to a point that describes the competencies that an adult needs in order to be able to meet the literacy demands in most of the spoken and written texts that they will engage with in their everyday lives. Because of the complex range of issues and experiences that may account for the needs of learners who do not have the basic, essential knowledge and skills, the decision was made to assume these as prerequisites for the listening, speaking, reading and writing progressions. A small number of adult learners may require a specialised plan to enable them to develop these competencies. See Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy for further information about the relationships between the strands and the progressions. For adults who are learning English, the information in the ESOL Learners section will also be relevant to the starting points of these progressions.
The nature of numeracy knowledge and skills means that the learning progressions for numeracy should start at an earlier point, to ensure that essential initial numeracy learning is not overlooked. They identify most of the key steps in learning, up to a point that describes what adults need to know and be able to do in order to solve most of the mathematical problems they will meet in their everyday lives. See Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy for further information about the relationships between the strands and the progressions.