Tuesday, December 11, 2012

US 4th Graders: 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)

This report from the National Center for Education Statistics summarizes the performance of U.S. fourth-grade students on the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), comparing their scores with their peers internationally as well as documenting changes in reading achievement since 2001. The report also describes additional details about the achievement of students within the United States, by sex, racial/ethnic background, and the poverty level of the schools they attend. It also includes state-level results for public school students in Florida.

PIRLS is sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), an international organization of national research institutions and governmental research agencies. PIRLS has been administered three times: 2001, 2006, and 2011. The United States participated in all three administrations. In 2011, 40 countries and 13 other education systems (including the 1 U.S. state) participated at grade 4.

The focus of the report is on the performance of U.S. students relative to their peers in other education systems in 2011, and on changes in reading achievement since 2001. For a number of participating education systems, changes in achievement can be documented over the last 10 years, from 2001 to 2011.

In addition to framing the reading literacy of U.S. students within an international context, the report shows how the reading literacy of U.S. 4th-graders varies by student background characteristics and contextual factors that may be associated with reading proficiency. Following the presentation of results, a technical appendix describes the study design, data collection, and analysis procedures that guided the administration of PIRLS 2011 in the United States and in the other participating education systems.

Results show that the 2011 average reading scores of U.S. fourth-grade students were higher than the PIRLS scale average. The average U.S. reading score was among the top 13 education systems (5 education systems had higher averages and 7 were not measurably different). The United States average was higher than 40 education systems. The 5 education systems with average scores above the U.S. average were Hong Kong-CHN, Florida-USA, the Russian Federation, Finland, and Singapore. Compared with 2001, the U.S. average score was 14 points higher in 2011. Also, compared with 2006, the U.S. average score was 16 points higher in 2011.

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