The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2011 is an international comparative evaluation of reading literacy of Grade 4 (9 year-old) learners involving more than 40 countries. The main objective of the study is to measure trends in children’s reading literacy achievement as well as policy and practices related to literacy.
PIRLS 2011 is the third, after PIRLS 2006 in which South Africa participated for the first time, in a series of planned five-year cycles of assessment. PIRLS and prePIRLS 2011 consist of a test of reading passages and background questionnaires to collect information about fourth-grade children’s reading literacy abilities. Background questionnaires are administered to Grade 4 learners, their parents, teachers and school principals.
In South Africa participation in PIRLS 2011 is aimed at ascertaining trends in reading literacy achievement. The availability of PIRLS 2006 data serves as baseline data against which performance of the 2011 cohort of Grade 4 and 5 learners may be measured. The PIRLS instruments were adapted and contextualised and then translated into the ten other South African official languages.
The data collection phase of the PIRLS 2011 study has been completed. Ultimately the sample for Grade 4 and Grade 5 comprised 357 schools and 535 classes and was stratified by language to ensure a representative sample of Grade 4 learners in all 11 languages. South African Grade 4 learners participated in the prePIRLS component and the Grade 5 Afrikaans and English learners were selected to participate in the PIRLS component permitting a trend analysis of reading achievement between 2006 and 2011 as South Africa had participated in 2006.
More then 15 000 achievement booklets have been scored to date. Results of the PIRLS 2011 study will be released in December 2012. In anticipation of the results and the release of the International report, Prof Sarah Howie (National Research Co-ordinator: PIRLS 2011) and Dr Surette van Staden (Co-National Research Co-ordinator: PIRLS 2011) are travelling to Vienna, Austria early in December 2011 to attend the 7th National Research Co-ordinators’ meeting which is hosted by the International Association for the Evaluation of educational achievement (IEA) and Boston College.