What is PIRLS?

PIRLS 2016 is the fourth cycle of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, coordinated by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). PIRLS provides internationally comparative data about how well children from different countries read after four years of primary schooling. In England, Year 5 pupils are assessed.

Has England participated in PIRLS before?

England has participated in all of the previous PIRLS cycles (2001, 2006, and 2011). OUCEA and Pearson have been appointed in partnership by the Department for Education to administer PIRLS 2016 in England.

What can PIRLS tell us?

PIRLS not only assesses pupil’s performance in reading, it also gathers information about how pupils home and school environments support their learning to read. The Centre administers PIRLS in England and provides scientifically sound results about the levels of reading comprehension of English pupils, how these are related to their individual characteristics and learning environments, and how this information can be used to improve the teaching and learning to read in England.

How can PIRLS be useful to schools, researchers and policy makers?

School leaders, teachers, researchers and policy makers can use the information from PIRLS to gain insight into literacy standards around the world, the strengths of different education systems, the challenges they face and ideas for raising reading outcomes.

More about recent PIRLS and what’s coming up

In 2011, some 55 countries participated in PIRLS and a similar participation rate is expected for 2016. The main data collection will take place between March and June 2016 and the national report will be published in December 2017.

PIRLS findings cover a broad range of information, including:

  • performance data by reading purpose (informational or literary) and processes of reading (retrieving information and straightforward inferencing; interpreting, integrating, and evaluating)
  • performance data by pupil characteristics such as gender, language spoken at home, parental support, pre-school attendance and social background to address issues of educational inequalities
  • the impact of the learning environment on reading performance e.g. school resources and teaching practices
  • different approaches to teaching reading comprehension and pupils’ use of those strategies
  • comparisons of performance in reading, learning environment and their relationship across participating countries
  • trend analysis of performance in reading and the relationship with the learning environment across time

Click here for information on PIRLS 2016 on the IEA website.

Click here for information on the PIRLS 2016 Assessment Framework.

Click here to find out about the research team.

Information on previous PIRLS findings is available here.

Information on PIRLS for schools and parents is available here.

If you are a School Contact and have a question about the administration of the test, please call the PIRLS support team on 01279 623187 or email them at – pirls2016@pearson.com.

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