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PIRLS 2001 in Brief

PIRLS 2001 follows by 10 years a prior IEA study of reading literacy called the IEA International Reading Literacy Study of 1991. Over the 10 years between these studies, progress has been made in the ways in which students are assessed and in the construction of the assessment instruments themselves. There has also been a shift in the design of the assessments. While PIRLS 2001 can trace its evolution to the earlier IRLS, it is a separate study, designed to reflect progress that has been made in assessment design and administration.

PIRLS 2001 is the first in a planned 5-year cycle of international trend studies in reading literacy by the IEA. PIRLS is designed to assist participating countries in monitoring the reading literacy of their fourth-grade populations in comparison to other countries.

Thirty-five countries participated in PIRLS 2001 (figure 1). The survey assessed the reading literacy of children in the upper of the two grades with the most 9-year-olds-fourth grade in most countries, including the United States. (See appendix A for more information on the sampling in PIRLS 2001.)

Data were collected in the final months of the 2000-01 school year. In the United States, data were collected in the spring of 2001 from both public and private schools.