Progress in International Reading Literacy Study

PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) is a large-scale assessment designed to inform educational policy and practice by providing an international perspective of teaching and learning in reading literacy. 

PIRLS involves comprehensive assessments of reading literacy for students in Year 4, supported by extensive data about country, school and classroom learning environments. It sits alongside its sister project, TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), in providing detailed information about the performance of students in Year 4 in the key areas of reading, mathematics and science.

PIRLS has been conducted every five years since 2001, with Australia participating for the first time in 2011, again in 2016 and now in 2021.

Although Australian students were originally scheduled to complete the PIRLS assessment in November 2020, disruptions to schooling caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the rescheduling of the PIRLS assessment for October and November 2021.

Who is involved in PIRLS?

In Australia, around 36 schools in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland will participate in a field test in March 2020. In October and November 2021 an additional 290 schools and more than 6000 students in Year 4 across the entire country will be involved in the main data collection phase.

Around 60 countries will participate in PIRLS 2021.

PIRLS is a project of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and is directed by the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College in collaboration with a worldwide network of organisations and representatives from the participating countries. 

In Australia, PIRLS is managed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training and the State and Territory Departments of Education. Under the Australian Education Act 2013 and the Australian Education Regulations 2013, all sampled schools are required to participate in PIRLS.

Previous cycles of PIRLS

The results from Australia’s participation in previous cycles of PIRLS – 2011 and 2016.