National Assessment Program Progress in International Reading Literacy Study

In 2011 and 2016, a sample of Australian students were chosen to participate in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), a non-ongoing part of Australia's National Assessment Program.

What is PIRLS?

PIRLS is an international assessment administered by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) that aims to measure how well students in Year 4 can acquire and use information that they have read. It focuses on comprehension and students' ability to find information in a piece of text, make inferences based on what they have read, interpret and integrate ideas and information and evaluate texts.

Why does Australia participate in PIRLS?

PIRLS provides valuable information on the reading performance of Australian primary school students compared with their peers around the world. As PIRLS is a curriculum-based test, the results can be used to stimulate curriculum reform and research while analysis of the data can be used to improve teaching and learning.

By participating in PIRLS, schools and students are contributing to an important health check on the performance of Australia's education system in reading, a key learning area. It complements other assessments under the National Assessment Program, such as NAPLAN.

Results can also be used to look at how the performance of students in Australia and other countries changes over time. This, along with information from the background contextual surveys that accompany the tests, enables the Australian Government to identify similarities and differences between education systems that can contribute to better outcomes for students.

Where are PIRLS results reported?

About 6000 Australian Year 4 students participated in the most recent PIRLS in 2016. Results for Australia and all other participating countries were published in December 2017 on the PIRLS website.

Australian governments appoint a National Research Coordinator to administer the test. For 2016, the Australian Council for Educational Research was appointed. The 2016 Australian national report became available on its website in December 2017.

How are PIRLS results reported?

Australia's results for Year 4 reading have been published at both the national and the state and territory level.

A breakdown of national results is also provided, to show how students in different demographic groups are achieving.

The PIRLS national report shows the results for students who are Indigenous or who come from a non-English speaking background. It also compares the performance of students by gender, and the location of their school (metropolitan, regional, or remote).

All information collected in PIRLS is de-identified so that no student or school taking PIRLS will be identified when Australia's results are publicly reported.