What does PIRLS assess?
Year 4 students involved in PIRLS complete an assessment of reading literacy, reading a number of carefully selected texts and responding to various questions about the content, style and purpose of those texts, and answer questionnaires on their background and experiences in learning reading at school. School principals and the students' reading (or English) teachers also complete detailed questionnaires. Parents of participating students will also be asked to complete a questionnaire about the early childhood education experiences of their child.
PIRLS tests are based on the assessment framework that is developed after extensive analysis of national curricula. The tests describe what students have learned and the questionnaires examine what is intended to be taught in reading and how they are actually taught.
PIRLS begins with a detailed analysis of Year 4 reading curricula and then tests curriculum content common across participating countries, ensuring that comparisons between countries are as fair as possible.
The tests developed look at two purposes of reading that Year 4 students typically engage in: reading for literary experience, as well as to acquire and use information. PIRLS also assesses four broad processes of comprehension predominantly used by Year 4 readers: focus on and retrieve explicitly stated information, make straightforward inferences, interpret and integrate ideas and information, and evaluate and critique content and textual elements.