OLA orally assesses foundational reading skills, including:
- functional reading (such as food labels and instructions on medicine bottles )
- letter naming
- letter sounds/syllables
- word recognition and decoding
- oral reading and comprehension
- silent reading comprehension
OLA can be used for formative and summative purposes. It can be used to document progress over time of youth enrolled in literacy programs and provide a snapshot of basic reading skills for education stakeholders and implementers. It can also be used with a general youth and adult population to establish a baseline of literacy skills and provide useful demographic data on groups with low literacy, who are difficult to assess and often underrepresented in literacy research and evaluations.
To enrich and inform the literacy analyses, the demographic questionnaire includes questions on urban/rural origin, mother tongue, language utilization at home and in place of work, exposure to print outside of classes, income, and literacy goals. Findings have been used to inform curriculum, the development of materials, teacher training, and overall program design and management.