Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)



3. KEY CONCEPTS


International desired population.
This is the grade or age level that each education system should address in its sampling activities. The international desired population for PIRLS 2001 was defined as all students enrolled in the upper of the two adjacent grades that contain the largest proportion of 9-year-olds at the time of testing. For PIRLS 2006, 2011, and 2016 the international desired population was defined as all students enrolled in the grade that represents 4 years of schooling, counting from the 1st year of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) Level 1, providing that the mean age at the time of testing was at least 9.5 years. For most education systems, the target grade was the fourth grade or its national equivalent.

National desired population. PIRLS expects all participating education systems to define their national desired population to correspond as closely as possible to the definition of the international desired population. For example, for PIRLS 2001, if the fourth grade was the upper of the two adjacent grades containing the greatest proportion of 9-year-olds in a particular education system, then students enrolled in fourth grade were the national desired population for that education system. For PIRLS 2006, 2011, and 2016 if the fourth grade of primary school was the grade that represents 4 years of schooling in a particular education system (counting from the 1st year of ISCED Level 1), then students enrolled in fourth grade were the national desired population for that education system.

National defined population. The national defined population is the population of students who were actually included in an education system's survey population. Although education systems are expected to include all students in the target grade in their definition of the population, sometimes it is not possible to include all students who fall under the definition of the international desired population. All students in the desired population who are not included in the defined population are referred to as the excluded population.

National Research Coordinators (NRCs). Each country appoints a National Research Coordinator who, together with staff at the PIRLS national center, is responsible for all aspects of the study within that country. NRCs play a central part in ensuring the suitability of the assessment materials including scoring and coding of data, and they are responsible for collecting and preparing data for the PIRLS assessment according to the procedures specified internationally, and even more specifically is responsible for implementing the sample design, including documenting each step of the sampling procedure. NRCs also nominate quality control monitors and interact with data processing centers to accomplish data cleaning and documentation.

Reading literacy. PIRLS joins the terms reading and literacy to convey a broad notion of what the ability to read means—a notion that includes the ability to reflect on what is read and to use it as a tool for attaining individual and societal goals. The term "reading literacy" has been used by IEA since naming its 1991 Reading Literacy Study, and it remains the appropriate term for what is meant by "reading" and what PIRLS is assessing. In developing a definition of reading literacy to serve as the basis for PIRLS, the Reading Development Group for 2001 looked to IEA's 1991 study, in which reading literacy was defined as "the ability to understand and use those written language forms required by society and/or valued by the individual." The Reading Development Group for 2001 elaborated on this definition for PIRLS so that it applies across ages yet makes explicit reference to aspects of the reading experience of young children. Beginning with PIRLS 2006, the definition was refined to highlight the widespread importance of reading in school and everyday life: "Reading literacy is defined as the ability to understand and use those written language forms required by society and/or valued by the individual. Young readers can construct meaning from a variety of texts. They read to learn, to participate in communities of readers in school and everyday life, and for enjoyment". This view of reading reflects numerous theories of reading literacy as a constructive and interactive process.