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International Comparisons in Fourth-Grade Reading Literacy Banner

Reading and Instruction in the Classroom

Reading Curriculum and Instructional Time

Do school principals and teachers encourage reading instruction through a variety of initiatives? What proportion of the school day is spent in reading instruction? Answers to these questions can give an indication of the emphasis that reading instruction receives in the curriculum of a country.

  • According to school principals, 72 percent of U.S. fourth-graders attend schools that have a written statement describing the reading curriculum, which is nearly double the international average of 37 percent.
  • Almost all (95 percent) U.S. fourth-grade students attend schools with a curricular emphasis on reading. This is greater than the international average of 78 percent.
  • Principals report that 95 percent of U.S. fourth-grade students attend schools with informal initiatives to encourage reading, which is greater than the international average of 76 percent9.
  • Based on teacher reporting, 65 percent of U.S. fourth-graders receive more than 6 hours of reading instruction per week, a higher percentage than the international average of 28 percent (figure 10). This percentage is also higher than the national average in 31 of the other 34 participating PIRLS 2001 countries.
  • The average combined reading literacy achievement scores of U.S. fourth-graders do not vary by the amount of instructional time they receive.