PIRLS 2021 Results Steady, Post

PIRLS 2021 Results

PIRLS 2021 results:  holding steady. PIRLS stands for Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

The 2021 report from ACER was released yesterday, 16 May 2023. This report is for Australia. Main points:

  • Victoria has slipped among the Australian states and territories but there are good reasons.
  • Victoria had stricter and longer Covid19 lockdowns than anywhere else in Australia.
  • Teacher satisfaction has also dropped, due no doubt, to the demands on teachers through the lockdowns.
  • Girls reading achievement is higher than boys. This is no surprise.

There are other results:

  • a drop in the number of high achieving readers and no change in the cohort of lowest achieving students.
  • These two results are off-set by the majority of students’ results holding steady.
  • As the number of high achieving students has dropped this brings down the average score.
  • Failure to make progress to lift achievement levels among First Nations students also holds down the average. Their achievement levels have not improved since PIRLS 2011 report. [Link: Closing the Gap, Post]

Overall, the results for literacy among Australian primary school children remain steady.

PIRLS National Project Manager for Australia, ACER’s Kylie Hillman said,

‘Students in Year 4 are at a key transition point in their schooling,
moving from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”.

A good way of putting it!  Effort in decoding text in the early school years progresses to reading for meaning. The two skills work in opposite directions in a graph.

So the focus is on Year 4.  Australia’s teachers aim to make children ready for the transition.

Hong Kong and Singapore are high achieving countries and their tests are in English. But it is not productive to compare Australia with them. They are small states in geographical terms. In terms of administration, they are easily controlled. And nor do they have high immigration levels as Australia does. The report discusses ‘comparable’ countries. Russia and Finland are not comparable countries and their languages differ from English in structure.

Australia’s PIRLS 2021 results are holding steady compared with countries that allow for sensible comparisons.

And finally, let’s not resort to criticising teachers over the results — sometimes called ‘teacher bashing’. Keep in mind the factors that have affected the results.