Youth in Transition Survey (YITS)

Detailed information for January 2008 to April 2009 (Cycle 5.5: Reading Skills Reassessment)




Every 2 years

Record number:


The Reading Skills Reasessement was designed to compare youths' proficiency in reading literacy at the age of 15 with their proficiency 9 years later, at the age of 24 years. The goal of the project is twofold: to identify changes in knowledge and skills over time as youth move from compulsory education and pursue a variety of different educational and labour market pathways; and to identify factors that lead to either an improvement or a deterioration of competencies.

Data release - February 10, 2011 (Cycle 5.5 is a special one-time Reading Skills reasessement.)


The Reading Skills Reassessment, part of the longitudinal Youth in Transition Survey (YITS) project, is undertaken jointly by Statistics Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. The Reading Skills Reassessment will permit the comparison of competencies of reading proficiency of youth at two points in time: at the age of 15 and 24. Existing information on trajectories coming from the first five cycles of YITS will allow for a better understanding of the evolution of knowledge and skills over time and in relation to educational and labour market pathways.

Understanding factors influencing the evolution of competencies is essential to ensure the lifelong development of human capital, which drives productivity, innovation, investment and growth vital to competing in the knowledge-based economy. Ensuring a high level of literacy among young Canadians is crucial if Canada is to maintain its global competitiveness and high standards of living.

Statistical activity

PISA/YITS is one project, which consists of two parallel survey programs: the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS).

PISA is an international assessment of the skills and knowledge of 15 year-olds which aims to assess whether students approaching the end of compulsory education have acquired the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in society.

YITS is designed to examine the patterns of, and influences on, major transitions in young people's lives, particularly with respect to education, training and work. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Statistics Canada have been developing the YITS in consultation with provincial and territorial ministries and departments of labour and education. Content includes measurement of major transitions in young people's lives including virtually all formal educational experiences and most about-market experiences, achievement, aspirations and expectations, and employment experiences. The implementation plan encompasses a longitudinal survey of each of two groups, ages 15 and 18-20, to be surveyed every two years.

The 15 year-old respondents to the Reading Cohort (conducted in 2000) participated in both PISA (record number 5060) and YITS (record number 5058). Starting in 2002, they were followed up longitudinally by YITS (record number 4435). In 2009, a sub-sample of this cohort also participated in the Reading Skills Reassessment.


  • Child development and behaviour
  • Children and youth
  • Education
  • Education, training and learning
  • Labour market activities
  • Outcomes of education

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The survey population for the Reading Cohort (15 year-olds) comprises persons who were born in 1984 and were attending any form of schooling in the ten provinces of Canada. Schools on Indian reserves were excluded, as were various types of schools for which it would be infeasible to administer the survey, such as home schooling and special needs schools. These exclusions represent less than 4% of 15-year-olds in Canada.

Instrument design

There were two components to the Reading Skills Reassessment. Respondents completed a one-hour paper assessment of reading skills. The assessment came from the Programme for International Assessment (2009). In addition, respondents completed a ten minute interviewer-administered paper-and-pencil questionnaire that collected updated information on education, labour market experiences and literacy practices. Due to time restrictions, the questionnaire component is not directly comparable to previous collection instruments used in the Youth in Transition Survey.


This is a sample survey with a longitudinal design.

The sample design for the initial sample in 2000 (15 year-olds) entailed a two-stage probability sampling, with a stratified sample of 1,200 schools selected at the first stage and a sample of eligible students selected within each sampled school. The initial student sample size for the reading cohort which was conducted in 2000 was 38,000. The resulting sample size was 14,650 for Cycle 5 of YITS. To select a sample for the Reading Skills Reassessment Survey, the file of Cycle 5 respondents was stratified by (1) reading proficiency level in 2000, (2) level of education in cycle 5, and (3) gender. A sample of 2,820 was allocated to strata proportional to the square root of the stratum size. The resulting sample for Reading Skills Reassessment was 1,297.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2009-05-01 to 2009-06-30

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Collection for this cycle took place from early May to late June 2009. In-person interviews were conducted. The response rate was 46 percent. The reading assessment was self-completed and the questionnaire was interviewer-administered.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

A series of verifications took place to ensure that the records were consistent and that collection and capture of the data did not introduce errors. Reported data were examined for completeness and consistency using automated edits coupled with manual review. Some responses reporting uncommon values or characteristics were processed manually.


No imputation was performed for missing data in the Reading Skills Reassessment


The starting point for the creation of weights for the Reading Skills Reassessment Survey is the final YITS Cycle 5 weights for respondents of the 15 year old cohort. The details of how the Cycle 5 weights are derived are provided in the Cycle 5 YITS User Guide.

The principle behind estimation in a probability sample is that each unit in the sample represents, besides itself, several other units not in the sample. For example, in a simple random 2% sample of the population, each unit in the sample represents 50 units in the population.

The weighting phase is a step which calculates, for each record, what this number (or weight) is. This weight appears on the master data file and must be used to derive meaningful estimates from the sample. The following provides details of the methodology used to calculate sampling weights for the Reading Skills Reassessment Survey.

The initial weight assigned to each unit in the Reading Skills Reassessment sample is the final production weight from Cycle 5. To derive a final weight, the following adjustments are applied to initial weights of the individual records on the Reading Skills Reassessment microdata file.

1. Adjustment for Subsampling of the Cycle 5 YITS Sample

To select the Reading Skills Reassessment sample, the YITS cycle 5 responding sample was stratified into 12 strata and a random sample selected within each strata. To adjust the initial weights to account for this sampling, the initial weight of each sampled unit in stratum h is multiplied by a factor equal to the number of Cycle 5 units in stratum h (Nh) divided by the number of units selected for the Reading Skills Reassessment sample in stratum h (nh).

2. Adjustment for Non-response

To adjust the weights for non-response to the Reading Skills Reassessment Survey, logistic regression is used to estimate the expected probability of response for each sample unit. Modeling is done within region (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, and British Columbia). To form response groups within which weight adjustments are to be made, the sample file is sorted by the estimated probability of response within each region. It is then divided into deciles, giving ten response adjustment groups for each region. Within each response adjustment group, the non-response adjustment factor is computed as the ratio of the sum of the weights for all units selected in the Reading Skills Reassessment sample to the sum of the weights for all responding sample units.

3. Adjustment for Calibration to Cycle 5 Gender Totals

To bring estimates for the Reading Skills Reassessment Survey in line with YITS cycle 5 estimates, a final calibration adjustment is made. Non-response adjusted weights are adjusted such that the survey weights sum to the same totals, by gender, as the cycle 5 weights for all units in the Cycle 5 sample.

The final weight (WTPM) which appears on the Reading Skills Reassessment master data file is the product of the initial weight multiplied by (1) the adjustment for subsampling of the YITS Cycle 5 sample, (2) the non-response adjustment, and (3) the calibration adjustment.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

These data are preliminary and will be revised on a monthly basis.

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