PIRLS – Progress in International Reading Literacy Study

PIRLS (the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) is an international comparison of the reading performance of school pupils. It is carried out once every five years. PIRLS has previously been carried out in 2001, 2006 and 2011, and will take place again in 2016.

The PIRLS studies are planned and managed by the IEA (the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). Denmark took part in PIRLS in 2006 and 2011, but was not involved in the first round of PIRLS in 2001.

PIRLS 2016

In 2015-16 a new PIRLS study is being carried out, PIRLS 2016. For the first time, this involves the reading of electronic texts – something which is becoming increasingly common in schools, even for fourth-grade pupils. The focus is also placed on reading in the third grade with a view to gaining an understanding of the rate at which reading skills develop from one year group to the next.

PIRLS 2011

The results of the latest PIRLS study from 2011 were published on Tuesday 11 December 2012. PIRLS 2011 covered pupils from more than 50 countries, provinces or regions. More than 325,000 pupils were involved worldwide. In Denmark, a representative sample of 4,594 pupils from 232 schools took part.

The study showed that Danish fourth-grade pupils had become better at reading. Five years previously Denmark was one of the 18 best countries, but in 2011 only four countries scored significantly better than Denmark. Despite the improvement, there were still big differences in the reading competences of Danish pupils at the intermediate level, both within each class and from one class to the next. The spread corresponded to a difference of two years in reading competences. The poor readers were especially found among pupils with a low socioeconomic status who spoke a language other than Danish at home.

PIRLS 2006

The results of PIRLS 2006 were published on 28 November 2007. PIRLS 2006 examined the reading skills of fourth-grade pupils in 40 countries. 215,000 pupils – 4,000 of whom were from Denmark – read both an informative and a fictional text. Their answers to a range of questions revealed their ability to understand, use and assess these texts. A wide range of information from parents and teachers regarding conditions at school and at home was also included in the study.