The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international comparative assessment that measures student learning in reading. Since 2001, PIRLS has been administered every 5 years. PIRLS documents worldwide trends in the reading knowledge of 4th-graders as well as school and teacher practices related to instruction. Fourth-grade students complete a reading assessment and questionnaire that addresses students' attitudes towards reading and their reading habits. In addition, questionnaires are given to students' teachers and school principals to gather information about students' school experiences in developing reading literacy. The first administration of PIRLS in 2001 included 36 education systems (including countries and subnational entities, such as Canadian provinces and Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China). It was followed five years later by the second administration in 2006 which included students in 45 education systems. The 2011 administration of PIRLS included 53 education systems participating at grade 4. For the fourth administration in 2016, 61 education systems, including the United States, took part. In 2016, for the first time, an innovative assessment of online reading called ePIRLS was administered.
Participating in PIRLS allows for a greater understanding of how the reading knowledge and skills of U.S. 4th-graders compare with 4th-graders from other countries. PIRLS informs national discussions about education policy as well as international competitiveness. PIRLS is coordinated by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). More information can be found in the PIRLS brochure.
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