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The table below lists the total number of education systems that have participated in each of the three administrations of PIRLS. This number includes both countries and subnational entities, such as Canadian provinces, U.S. states, England, and Hong Kong. (Below the table that follows, see the more detailed explanation about the distinction between countries and education systems.) In the first administration of PIRLS in 2001, 36 education systems participated, followed by 45 in 2006. In the most recent administration of PIRLS in 2011, a total of 57 education systems participated (though note that this total of 57 includes four education systems that only gave the 4th-grade assessment to 5th- and 6th-graders).

Education system 2001 2006 2011   Education system 2001 2006 2011
Total count 36 45 57   Morocco3
Total IEA members count 34 40 48   Netherlands
Argentina       New Zealand
Australia       Northern Ireland-GBR    
Austria     Norway
Azerbaijan       Oman    
Belgium (Flemish)-BEL       Poland  
Belgium (French)-BEL     Portugal    
Belize       Qatar2  
Botswana1       Romania
Bulgaria   Russian Federation
Canada       Saudi Arabia    
Chinese Taipei-CHN     Scotland-GBR  
Colombia     Singapore
Croatia       Slovak Republic
Cyprus       Slovenia
Czech Republic     South Africa    
Denmark     Spain  
England-GBR   Sweden
Finland       Turkey    
France   Trinidad and Tobago  
Georgia     United Arab Emirates    
Germany   United States
Hong Kong-CHN          
Hungary   Benchmarking education systems
Iceland     Total benchmarking systems 2 5 9
Indonesia     Abu Dhabi-UAE    
Iran, Islamic Rep. of   Alberta-CAN  
Ireland       Andalusia-ESP    
Israel2   British Columbia-CAN    
Italy   Dubai-UAE    
Kuwait1   Eng/Afr(5)-RSA4    
Latvia     Florida-USA    
Lithuania   Maltese-MLT    
Luxembourg       Nova Scotia-CAN    
Macedonia     Ontario-CAN
Malta       Quebec-CAN
1Administered the PIRLS 4th-grade assessment to 6th-grade students in 2011.
2Participated but data not comparable for measuring trends to 2011, primarily due to countries improving translations or increasing population coverage.
3Administered the PIRLS 4th-grade assessment to a national sample of 4th-grade students and a national sample of 6th-grade students in 2011.
4Republic of South Africa (RSA) tested 5th-grade students receiving instruction in English (ENG) or Afrikaans (AFR).
NOTE: Only education systems that completed the necessary steps for their data to appear in the reports from the International Study Center are listed. Included are eight benchmarking education systems that qualified for reporting participation in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2011: the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec in Canada; Andalusia of Spain; Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE; Maltese Malta; and the U.S. state of Florida. Information on these education systems can be found in the international PIRLS 2011 report. In order to be reported on, education systems were required to sample students enrolled in the grade corresponding to the fourth year of schooling, beginning with International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 1, providing that the mean age at the time of testing was at least 9.5 years. In the United States and most education systems, this corresponds to grade 4. See table A-1 in appendix A for details.
SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), 2011.

Countries or Education Systems?

The international bodies that coordinate international assessments vary in the labels they apply to participating entities. For example, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which coordinates PIRLS and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), differentiates between IEA members, which the IEA refers to as "countries" in all cases, and "benchmarking participants." IEA members include countries such as the United States, as well as subnational entities such as England (which is part of the United Kingdom) and Hong Kong (which is a Special Administrative Region of China). IEA benchmarking participants are all subnational entities and include Canadian provinces, U.S. states, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (among others). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which coordinates the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), differentiates between OECD member countries and all other participating entities (called "partner countries" or "partner economies"), which include countries and subnational entities. In PISA, the United Kingdom and Belgium are reported as whole countries. Hong Kong is a PISA partner country, as are countries like Singapore, which is not an OECD member but is an IEA member.

In an effort to increase the comparability of results across the international assessments that the United States participates in, the PIRLS 2011 U.S. national report uses a standard international classification of nation-states (see the U.S. State Department list of "independent states" at to report out separately "countries" and "other education systems," which include all other non-national entities that received a PIRLS score. The reportís tables and figures, which are primarily adapted from the IEAís PIRLS 2011 international report, follow the IEA PIRLS convention of placing members and nonmembers in separate parts of the tables and figures in order to facilitate readersí moving between the international and U.S. national report. However, the text of the PIRLS 2011 U.S. national report will refer to "countries" and "other education systems," following the standard classification of nation-states.


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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education