What is PIRLS?

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), is a study which takes place every five years in around 60 countries. It looks at the reading abilities of 9-10 year olds worldwide and asks pupils in each country to answer a set of reading comprehension questions and complete a questionnaire. Schools and teachers are also asked to complete a questionnaire. The results are used by our government and governments from around the world to compare the strengths and weaknesses of their education systems to other countries and improve their education systems.

Due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, the PIRLS 2021 Main Study is taking place in England in May – June 2022, rather than in 2021 as originally planned.

See here for more information on the study.

How are pupils selected to take part?

Schools are randomly selected to take part in PIRLS by the study organiser, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) to represent the range of schools in England. A Year 5 class is then randomly selected to participate.

We would like to thank all of the pupils who participate in PIRLS, your involvement is very valuable and helps improve education across the world. As a thank you for taking part, you will receive a certificate from the Department for Education (part of our UK government responsible for education in England).

What will happen on the day of the study?

The study will take part in the normal school day. On the day of the study, we will ask your class to read some stories and then answer some questions about them. We will also ask you to fill out a short questionnaire.

If you would like to see some examples of the kinds of reading passages and questions which are included in the PIRLS study, they can be found here or you can see an example of the pupil questionnaire.

Do I need to prepare?

You do not need to do any preparation to take part in the study and your results will not affect your school work .

Please bring a book so you can read quietly if you finish the study early.

Data privacy & how we use personal data

The privacy and data security of the young people and schools we work with is very important to us and no individual pupil, parent, carer or school will be identified or identifiable in any reporting. 

All data from the study will be pseudonymised, meaning pupil, teacher and school details will be removed and replaced with a code so that no individual school or pupil can be identified. It will then be combined with responses from other pupils taking part nationally and compared with results of pupils around the world. If there are any questions you do not wish to answer you may leave them blank.

You can view more information on data privacy and the full privacy notice here.

What have we learned from PIRLS?

Results from the previous cycle of PIRLS, which took place in 2016, were
released on 5th December 2017. You may like to view:

A two-page summary of the key findings

A video by OUCEA researchers summarising the findings

Other recent analysis by OUCEA using data from PIRLS 2016.

Contact us

If you have any questions on any aspect of the study, please do not hesitate to contact the PIRLS Support Team.