PIRLS of wisdom

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I hadn't realised that French school kids did so badly in the PIRLS tests, and that they've been getting worse at it over the last few years.

PIRLS * is known as a reading test, but it's much more like a new-fashioned comprehension test – a 21st century version of all those interminable exercises I did at school which I saw little relevance in at the time but which, as it turns out, helped me start to develop a language skill that I've used in all the work I've ever done.

Anyway back to the French and their concerns over what to do about PIRLS given that it demonstrates that not all's well with the French Bac.   One option is to withdraw from it whilst making self-serving noise about how it puts too great a burden on children teachers, parents, etc.  This is what the Scots did after the 2006 results **.   And for depressingly similar reasons, so, of course, did the Welsh,

Another option is to try to do something about it as the Economist reported this week. The New Napoleon has ordered significant changes in the French Bac although there seems to have been less than extensive consultation with teachers who (always on the lookout for a chance to parade their virtue on the streets when the days get warmer) are said to be upset.

Happily (but unhappily if you're the saviour of Europe), Les Rosbifs are doing rather well in PIRLS, as are (of course) the Northern Irish.  To see what sort of test PIRLS offers, just have a look here.



The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) measures the reading ability of 10-year-olds, which can then be compared with other countries. The study is run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) on a 5-yearly cycle. The next round of the study takes place later this year and will be delivered through Pearson Education and Oxford University in England.

** A 2016 ELINET survey of literacy in Scotland said this:

"The average reading performances of Scottish 10-year-olds in PIRLS 2001 and 2006 were similar across years and across both reading and reading comprehension processes. Scotland’s performance was slightly lower than the average across participating EU countries, but with greater spread. In contrast, while the average reading test performance of Scottish 15-year-olds in the PISA surveys has fluctuated over the period (2000-2012), it has always been above the average for participating EU countries. The performance spread for Scottish students has been lower than that for the EU countries on average: the proportion of top-performing readers has been close to the average of participating EU countries, whereas the proportion of students considered as low-performing readers has typically been below the EU countries on average."

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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