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Digest of Education Statistics
2017 Tables and Figures All Years of Tables and Figures Most Recent Full Issue of the Digest


Table 602.10. Average reading literacy scale scores of fourth-graders and percentage distribution, by international benchmark level and country or other education system: Selected years, 2001 through 2016
[Standard errors appear in parentheses]
Country or other education system1 Average reading literacy scale score2 Percentage distribution, by international benchmark level (score range), 20173
2001 2006 2011 2016 Low (400-474) and below4 Intermediate
(475-549)
High
(550-624)
Advanced
(625 and above)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Scale centerpoint2 or
      median percentage5
500   (†) 500   (†) 500   (†) 500   (†) 18   (†) 31   (†) 36   (†) 10   (†)
Australia   (†)   (†) 527   (2.2) 544   (2.5) 19   (1.0) 30   (1.0) 35   (1.0) 16   (1.0)
Austria   (†) 538   (2.2) 529   (2.0) 541 6 (2.4) 16 6 (1.1) 37 6 (0.9) 39 6 (1.3) 8 6 (0.8)
Azerbaijan7   (†)   (†) 462 6 (3.3) 472 8 (4.2) 46 8 (2.0) 36 8 (1.5) 16 8 (1.0) 2 8 (0.3)
Bahrain   (†)   (†)   (†) 446   (2.3) 59   (1.0) 27   (0.8) 12   (0.6) 2   (0.3)
Belgium (Flemish)   (†)   (†)   (†) 525   (1.9) 20   (1.3) 45   (1.1) 31   (1.1) 4   (0.4)
                                                 
Belgium (French)   (†) 500   (2.6) 506 6,9 (2.9) 497 6 (2.6) 35 6 (1.4) 42 6 (1.1) 20 6 (1.1) 3 6 (0.4)
Bulgaria 550   (3.8) 547   (4.4) 532   (4.1) 552   (4.2) 17   (1.6) 28   (1.3) 35   (1.3) 19   (1.3)
Canada   (†)   (†) 548 6 (1.6) 543 6,10 (1.8) 17 6,10 (0.9) 33 6,10 (0.8) 37 6,10 (0.8) 13 6,10 (0.7)
Chile   (†)   (†)   (†) 494   (2.5) 39   (1.5) 36   (1.4) 22   (1.2) 3   (0.4)
Chinese Taipei   (†) 535   (2.0) 553   (1.9) 559   (2.0) 10   (0.7) 31   (1.1) 44   (1.2) 14   (1.1)
                                                 
Colombia 422   (4.4)   (†) 448   (4.1)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)
Croatia   (†)   (†) 553 6 (1.9)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)
Czech Republic 537   (2.3)   (†) 545   (2.2) 543   (2.1) 15   (0.9) 36   (1.0) 39   (1.0) 10   (0.7)
Denmark   (†) 546   (2.3) 554 6 (1.7) 547 6 (2.1) 14 6 (1.0) 34 6 (1.0) 41 6 (1.1) 11 6 (1.0)
Egypt   (†)   (†)   (†) 330 11 (5.6) 89 11 (1.2) 9 11 (1.0) 2 11 (0.3) 11 (†)
                                                 
England (United Kingdom) 553 6,9 (3.4) 539   (2.6) 552 9 (2.6) 559   (1.9) 14   (0.7) 28   (0.9) 37   (1.1) 20   (0.9)
Finland   (†)   (†) 568   (1.9) 566   (1.8) 9   (0.8) 29   (1.0) 44   (1.1) 18   (0.8)
France 525   (2.4) 522   (2.1) 520   (2.6) 511   (2.2) 28   (1.2) 42   (1.2) 26   (1.1) 4   (0.6)
Georgia7   (†) 471 6,10 (3.1) 488 10 (3.1) 488 10 (2.8) 40 10 (1.6) 38 10 (1.4) 20 10 (1.1) 2 10 (0.4)
Germany 539   (1.9) 548   (2.2) 541   (2.2) 537   (3.2) 19   (1.4) 34   (1.0) 36   (1.1) 11   (0.8)
                                                 
Hong Kong (China) 528   (3.1) 564   (2.4) 571 12 (2.3) 569 6,9 (2.7) 7 6,9 (0.9) 27 6,9 (1.4) 47 6,9 (1.5) 18 6,9 (1.3)
Hungary 543   (2.2) 551   (3.0) 539   (2.9) 554   (2.9) 15   (1.0) 30   (1.2) 39   (1.1) 17   (1.2)
Indonesia   (†) 405   (4.1) 428   (4.2)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)
Iran, Islamic Republic of 414   (4.2) 421   (3.1) 457   (2.8) 428 13 (4.0) 63 13 (1.3) 26 13 (1.0) 9 13 (0.5) 1 13 (0.2)
Ireland   (†)   (†) 552   (2.3) 567   (2.5) 11   (0.9) 28   (1.2) 40   (1.3) 21   (1.2)
                                                 
Israel 509 14 (2.8) 512 14 (3.3) 541 12 (2.7) 530 12 (2.5) 25 12 (1.0) 29 12 (1.0) 33 12 (1.1) 13 12 (0.9)
Italy 541   (2.4) 551   (2.9) 541   (2.2) 548   (2.2) 13   (1.0) 35   (1.3) 41   (1.7) 11   (0.8)
Kazakhstan   (†)   (†)   (†) 536   (2.5) 16   (1.5) 42   (1.3) 35   (1.4) 7   (0.8)
Kuwait   (†)   (†)   (†) 393 11 (4.1) 78 11 (1.5) 16 11 (1.2) 5 11 (0.8) 11 (†)
Latvia   (†)   (†)   (†) 558 6 (1.7) 10 6 (0.8) 33 6 (1.3) 43 6 (1.4) 14 6 (1.0)
                                                 
Lithuania 543 10 (2.6) 537 10 (1.6) 528 6,10 (2.0) 548 15 (2.6) 14 15 (1.1) 34 15 (1.3) 40 15 (1.2) 12 15 (0.9)
Macao (China)   (†)   (†)   (†) 546   (1.0) 14   (0.5) 36   (0.8) 41   (0.9) 10   (0.6)
Malta (Maltese)   (†)   (†) 457   (1.5) 452 6 (1.8) 55 6 (1.1) 32 6 (1.1) 12 6 (0.8) 6 (†)
Morocco 350 16 (9.6) 323   (5.9) 310 17 (3.9) 358 13 (3.9) 86 13 (0.8) 11 13 (0.7) 3 13 (0.4) 13 (†)
Netherlands9 554   (2.5) 547   (1.5) 546   (1.9) 545   (1.7) 12   (0.9) 39   (1.3) 40   (1.1) 8   (0.6)
                                                 
New Zealand 529   (3.6) 532   (2.0) 531   (1.9) 523   (2.2) 27   (1.0) 32   (1.0) 30   (1.0) 11   (0.6)
Northern Ireland (United
   Kingdom)
  (†)   (†) 558 9 (2.4) 565   (2.2) 13   (0.8) 26   (1.0) 38   (1.0) 22   (1.4)
Norway (grade 5)18   (†)   (†)   (†) 559   (2.3) 10   (0.9) 32   (1.4) 43   (1.4) 15   (0.9)
Oman   (†)   (†) 391 19 (2.8) 418   (3.3) 68   (1.3) 22   (0.9) 8   (0.7) 2   (0.3)
Poland   (†) 519   (2.4) 526   (2.1) 565   (2.1) 11   (0.7) 28   (1.1) 41   (1.1) 20   (1.1)
                                                 
Portugal   (†)   (†) 541   (2.6) 528 6 (2.3) 21 6 (1.3) 42 6 (1.1) 31 6 (1.2) 7 6 (0.9)
Qatar   (†) 353   (1.1) 425 6 (3.5) 442   (1.8) 58   (1.1) 25   (1.1) 14   (0.6) 3   (0.3)
Romania 512   (4.6) 489   (5.0) 502   (4.3)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)
Russian Federation 528 6 (4.4) 565 6 (3.4) 568   (2.7) 581   (2.2) 6   (0.6) 23   (1.0) 44   (1.0) 26   (1.2)
Saudi Arabia   (†)   (†) 430   (4.4) 430   (4.2) 65   (1.7) 24   (1.3) 9   (1.0) 1   (0.4)
                                                 
Singapore 528   (5.2) 558   (2.9) 567 6 (3.3) 576 12 (3.2) 11 12 (1.0) 23 12 (1.1) 38 12 (1.5) 29 12 (1.6)
Slovak Republic 518   (2.8) 531   (2.8) 535   (2.8) 535   (3.1) 19   (1.3) 33   (1.1) 37   (1.3) 10   (0.8)
Slovenia 502   (2.0) 522   (2.1) 530   (2.0) 542   (2.0) 17   (0.9) 34   (0.9) 38   (1.1) 11   (0.8)
South Africa   (†)   (†)   (†) 320 11 (4.4) 92 11 (1.0) 6 11 (0.7) 2 11 (0.4) 11 (†)
Spain   (†) 513   (2.5) 513   (2.3) 528   (1.7) 20   (1.0) 41   (0.8) 33   (0.9) 6   (0.4)
                                                 
Sweden 561   (2.2) 549   (2.3) 542   (2.1) 555   (2.4) 12   (0.9) 31   (1.1) 43   (1.7) 14   (1.4)
Trinidad and Tobago   (†) 436   (4.9) 471   (3.8) 479   (3.3) 45   (1.7) 31   (1.3) 20   (1.1) 4   (0.5)
United Arab Emirates   (†)   (†) 439   (2.2) 450   (3.2) 57   (1.4) 23   (0.7) 15   (0.8) 5   (0.3)
United States 542 6,9 (3.8) 540 9 (3.5) 556 6 (1.5) 549 9 (3.1) 17 9 (1.2) 31 9 (1.1) 37 9 (1.4) 16 9 (1.3)
                                                 
Benchmarking education systems                                                
Abu Dhabi (United Arab
     Emirates)
  (†)   (†) 424   (4.7) 414   (4.7) 69   (1.7) 20   (1.1) 9   (0.9) 2   (0.4)
Alberta (Canada)   (†) 560 6 (2.4) 548 6 (2.9)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)
Andalusia (Spain)   (†)   (†) 515   (2.3) 525   (2.1) 22   (1.2) 41   (0.9) 32   (1.1) 5   (0.5)
Bueno Aires (Argentina)   (†)   (†)   (†) 480   (3.1) 45   (1.5) 34   (1.1) 18   (1.0) 3   (0.4)
Dubai (United Arab Emirates)   (†)   (†) 476   (2.0) 515   (1.9) 31   (0.9) 30   (0.9) 29   (0.8) 11   (0.6)
                                                 
Florida (United States)21   (†)   (†) 569 9,14 (2.9)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)
Madrid (Spain)   (†)   (†)   (†) 549 6 (2.0) 11 6 (0.9) 38 6 (1.1) 42 6 (1.1) 9 6 (0.7)
Malta (English)   (†)   (†) 477   (1.4)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)   (†)
Moscow City (Russian
     Federation)
  (†)   (†)   (†) 612   (2.2) 2   (0.3) 14   (0.9) 41   (1.2) 43   (1.5)
Norway (grade 4)18 499   (2.9) 498 20 (2.6) 507 16 (1.9) 517   (2.0) 26   (1.1) 40   (1.1) 29   (1.0) 5   (0.6)
                                                 
Ontario (Canada) 548 6 (3.3) 555 6 (2.7) 552 6 (2.6) 544   (3.2) 18   (1.4) 32   (1.1) 37   (1.4) 14   (1.5)
Quebec (Canada) 537   (3.0) 533   (2.8) 538   (2.1) 547 22 (2.8) 13 22 (1.5) 37 22 (1.5) 39 22 (1.6) 11 22 (1.2)
—Not available.
†Not applicable.
‡Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Most of the education systems represent complete countries, but some represent subnational entities; examples include the Flemish and French communities of Belgium, two components of the United Kingdom (England and Northern Ireland), a few individual cities (such as Abu Dhabi within the United Arab Emirates), and the U.S. state of Florida.
2 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) scores are reported on a scale from 0 to 1,000, with the scale centerpoint set at 500 and the standard deviation set at 100.
3 PIRLS international benchmarks group achievement into four levels, providing a way to interpret scale scores and to understand how student proficiency varies at different points on the scale. The score range for each benchmark level (i.e., the lowest and highest score in that level) is shown in parentheses. The score cut-points (i.e., lowest scores) that define the beginning of each level were selected to be as close as possible to the standard percentile cut-points (i.e., the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles). Descriptions of the skills associated with each level can be found at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pirls/pirls2016/tables/pirls2016_exhibit02.asp.
4 This column combines students who are in the Low level (scores of 400 to 474) with students who are below the Low level (scores of less than 400).
5 International median percentages are shown in columns 6 through 9 of this row. Half the education systems have a percentage of students equal to or higher than the international median and half have a percentage of students below the median. The median includes only the education systems shown in the top part of this table, which are members of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). "Benchmarking" education systems are not members of the IEA and are therefore not included in the median.
6 National Defined Population covers 90 to 95 percent of National Target Population.
7 Exclusion rates for Azerbaijan and Georgia are slightly underestimated as some conflict zones were not covered and no official statistics were available for 2011.
8 In 2016, Azerbaijan expanded its sample to include students taught in Russian. All 2016 data shown in this table are based on the expanded sample and therefore are not comparable with data for previous years.
9 Met guidelines for sample participation rates only after replacement schools were included.
10 National Target Population does not include all of the International Target Population.
11 Administered PIRLS Literacy instead of the standard PIRLS assessment. PIRLS Literacy is a less difficult version of PIRLS designed to assess foundational reading skills.
12 National Defined Population covers less than 90 percent of National Target Population (but at least 77 percent).
13 Administered both the standard PIRLS assessment and PIRLS Literacy, a less difficult version of PIRLS that is designed to assess foundational reading skills. Results are based on an average of both assessments.
14 National Defined Population covers less than 80 percent of National Target Population.
15 In 2016, Lithuania expanded its sample to include students taught in Polish and Russian. All 2016 data shown in this table are based on the expanded sample and therefore are not comparable with data for previous years.
16 Nearly satisfied guidelines for sample participation rates after replacement schools were included.
17 The TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center has reservations about the reliability of the average achievement score because the percentage of students with achievement too low for estimation exceeds 25 percent.
18 In PIRLS cycles prior to 2016, Norway assessed only students in grade 4, which is similar to grade 3 in many other countries because grade 1 in Norway is considered the equivalent of kindergarten rather than the first year of primary school. For PIRLS 2016, Norway started assessing students in grade 5. For purposes of comparing results across years, however, Norway also continued to collect grade 4 data in 2016. This table includes the grade 5 results in the top part of the table and the grade 4 results under "Benchmarking education systems."
19 The TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center has reservations about the reliability of the average achievement score because the percentage of students with achievement too low for estimation exceeds 15 percent, though it is less than 25 percent.
20 Data are available for at least 70 percent but less than 85 percent of students.
21 All data for Florida are based on public schools only.
22 Did not satisfy guidelines for sample participation rates.
SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016. (This table was prepared November 2017).

2017 Tables and Figures All Years of Tables and Figures Most Recent Full Issue of the Digest