Australian Results TIMSS & PIRLS 2011 (Dec 2012)

In 2011, the five yearly testing cycle for PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) came in to alignment with the four-year cycle for TIMSS, allowing countries who were participating in both of these international studies to gain comprehensive information about the achievement of their fourth grade students in three core curriculum areas- reading, mathematics and science. Introduced in 2001, PIRLS is conducted every five years to measure progress in the reading achievement of students in Year 4, as well as trends in the associated home and school contexts for learning to read. Australia participated in PIRLS for the first time in 2011.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) released the TIMSS & PIRLS 2011 national reports at 8pm AEDST on Tuesday, 11 December 2012.

The 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) measured the reading achievement of 300 000 students in their fourth year of schooling across the participating countries.

The 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) measured the mathematics and science achievement of 600 000 students in their fourth and eighth year of schooling across the participating countries.


Highlights from TIMSS & PIRLS 2011 from Australia’s perspective (PDF: 36 pages, 1.2 MB)
Sue Thomson, Kylie Hillman, Nicole Wernert, Marina Schmid, Sarah Buckley and Ann Munene. (2012) Melbourne: ACER.

Monitoring Australian Year 4 student achievement internationally: TIMSS and PIRLS 2011 (PDF: 273 pages, 3.4 MB)
Sue Thomson, Kylie Hillman, Nicole Wernert, Marina Schmid, Sarah Buckley and Ann Munene. (2012) Melbourne: ACER.

Monitoring Australian Year 8 student achievement internationally: TIMSS 2011 (PDF: 194 pages, 2.6 MB)
Sue Thomson, Kylie Hillman and Nicole Wernert. (2012) Melbourne: ACER.

Media Release

Reports released today by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) reveal disappointing results for Australia in the latest international study of mathematics and science achievement, and in Australia’s first ever international assessment of reading at primary school level.

Releasing the results, ACER Chief Executive Professor Geoff Masters said, “To say the results are disappointing is an understatement”.

Read more »


Professor Geoff Masters discusses the key findings (WAV, 39 seconds)

'PM's education goals mired in underachievement' by Geoff Masters, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 2012, page 13.

'Latest tests show PM's 2025 education goal is in doubt' by Sue Thomson, The Conversation, 12 December 2012.

'Test results make for disturbing reading' by Sue Thomson, Newcastle Herald, 12 December 2012.

Read transcript or listen to interview with Professor Geoff Masters on ABC Radio National 'AM', 12 December 2012.

Listen to interview with Dr Sue Thomson on radio 3AW (MP3, 5 minutes)

Media Comment 

Professor Geoff Masters, Chief Executive of ACER, and Dr Sue Thomson, Head of Educational Monitoring and Research at ACER, will be available for comment.

GeoffMastersProfessor Masters has served on a range of bodies, including terms as Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee for the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and Chair of the Technical Advisory Group for the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). He has undertaken a number of reviews for governments, including a review of examination procedures in the New South Wales Higher School Certificate; an investigation of options for the introduction of an Australian Certificate of Education; a national review of options for reporting and comparing school performances; and a review of strategies for improving literacy and numeracy, and school improvement in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.


Dr Thomson is the TIMSS and PIRLS National Research Coordinator for Australia, and the National Project Manager for Australia for PISA. Dr Thomson's research at ACER has involved extensive analysis of large-scale national and international data sets, including the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, TIMSS and PISA.

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