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PIRLS 2006

A summary of findings from PIRLS 2006:
In 2006, 45 education systems participated in the Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), including 38 countries, 5 Canadian provinces, and the separate English- and French-speaking education systems in Belgium.

On average, U.S. fourth-graders scored higher than their peers worldwide, with average scores higher than the PIRLS scale average (540 vs. 500), and a greater percentage of U.S. students reaching each achievement benchmark compared to the international median percentage.

The average score for U.S. students was:

  • higher than the average score in 22 education systems
  • lower than 10 education systems and
  • not significantly different from 12 education systems.

Compared to 2001, the average score for U.S. students in 2006 was not significantly different overall. On the 2006 assessment, the average score for U.S. students in reading for literary experience was 4 points higher than their average score in reading to acquire and use information. In 2001, the difference was 17 points.

Other findings include the following:

  • 12 percent of U.S. students reached the advanced benchmark, compared to the international median of 7 percent.
  • 47 percent of U.S. students met the high benchmark, compared to the international median of 41 percent.
  • 82 percent of U.S. students met the intermediate benchmark, compared to the international median of 76 percent.
  • Average scores for girls on the combined reading literacy scale were higher than average scores for boys in 43 of the 45 participating education systems, including the United States.

For more information, please see The Reading Literacy of U.S. Fourth-Grade Students in an International Context: Results From the 2001 and 2006 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).

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