The PIRLS framework focuses on two key content domains: purposes for reading and processes of comprehension. There are two key purposes for reading: reading for literary experience and reading to acquire and use information. Reading for literary experience involves reading for interest or pleasure using texts that emphasize characters, plot events, settings, and themes. Reading to acquire and use information includes reading to learn, typically using informational texts that tell students about themselves and the world around them. The assessment also integrates four comprehension processes within both of the purposes for reading. The four processes of comprehension consist of the ability to (1) focus on, and retrieve, explicitly stated information, (2) make straightforward inferences, (3) interpret and integrate ideas and information, and (4) evaluate, and critique, content and textual elements. These four comprehension processes are presented through two combined measures: retrieving and straightforward inferencing, and interpreting, integrating, and evaluating.
The new ePIRLS is an innovative, computer-based assessment of online reading. It is designed to measure students' approaches to informational reading in an online environment. As webpages become a more common source for acquiring information, ePIRLS provides measures of students' online reading skills and competencies. Example tasks include identifying a specific webpage, filtering content on the webpage for the most relevant information, relating information across websites, and judging the credibility of information on the website.
Exhibit 1 illustrates the framework for reading literacy used for PIRLS and ePIRLS, including the percentage of all assessment items devoted to each component.
The PIRLS assessment provides students with short reading passages and accompanying items to assess understanding. These items are standardized measures that use multiple-choice and open-ended formats. The ePIRLS assessment provides students with passages or a series of web pages on a desktop or laptop computer and requires students to use a mouse to navigate the assessment. The ePIRLS simulated web pages consisted of two tasks. In the tasks, a teacher avatar guides students through the ePIRLS assignments, prompting the students with questions about the online information. For both PIRLS and ePIRLS 2016, multiple-choice items were worth one point, whereas the value of open-ended items (in which students wrote or typed responses) depended on the depth of understanding required: short-answer items were worth 1 or 2 points, while extended response items were worth up to 3 points.