PIRLS 2016 Fact Sheet

Long title
Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
Frequency of data collection
Every 5 years
Previous cycles
2001, 2006, 2011
  • 2013 (February)–2014 (August): framework and instrument development
  • 2015 (March–April): field test
  • 2015 (October–December): data collection (Southern Hemisphere)
  • 2016 (March–June): data collection (Northern Hemisphere)
  • 2017 (December): release of international reports
  • 2018 (February): release of international database
  • Monitor system-level trends in student achievement in reading at Grade 4 in a global context.
  • Gather and provide information and data for improving learning and teaching in reading.
  • Help improve the teaching of reading and the acquisition of reading skills around the world.
  • Gain a better understanding of education and educational systems and enable countries to make informed decisions for improving their education policies.
  • Compare education systems worldwide in terms of their organization, instructional resources, and practices related to their students’ reading. achievement, thus allowing them to learn from the experience of others in designing effective education policy.
Assessment domain(s)
  • Reading literacy
Study framework (summary)

Reading framework

  • Purposes for reading
    • Reading for literary experience
    • Reading to acquire and use information
  • Processes of comprehension
    • Focus on and retrieve explicitly stated information
    • Make straightforward inferences
    • Interpret and integrate ideas and information
    • Evaluate and critique content and textual elements


The contextual framework

  • National and community contexts
  • Home contexts
  • School contexts
  • Classroom contexts
  • Student characteristics and attitudes toward learning
Participating entities


  • PIRLS: 50 countries and 11 benchmarking entities
  • PIRLS Literacy (formerly prePIRLS): 5 countries and 1 benchmarking entity
  • ePIRLS: 14 countries and 2 benchmarking entities



  • PIRLS Overall
    • Countries participating, including some distinctive education systems within countries that have always participated separately (50): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium (Flemish), Belgium (French), Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macao SAR, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States
    • Benchmarking participants (regional jurisdictions, grouped by country; 11): Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ontario, Canada; Quebec, Canada; Denmark; Norway; Moscow City, Russian Federation; English/Afrikaans/Zulu - South Africa; Andalusia, Spain; Madrid, Spain; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Dubai, UAE
  • PIRLS Literacy
    • Countries participating (5): Egypt, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Kuwait, Morocco, South Africa
    • Benchmarking participants (1): Denmark
  • ePIRLS
    • Countries participating (14): Canada, Chinese Taipei, Denmark, Georgia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United States
    • Benchmarking participants (2): Abu Dhabi, UAE; Dubai, UAE
Target population and sample (summary)

Target population (students)

Grade representing 4 years of formal schooling in participating entities


Sample (students)

Per country: 150–200 schools, 1 or 2 classes per school, approx. 4,500 students.

In total: approximately 340,000 students

Data collection techniques and instruments (summary)

Student achievement

  • PIRLS: 16 booklets (matrix sampling design)
  • PIRLS Literacy: 16 booklets (matrix sampling design)
  • ePIRLS: 12 task combinations (matrix sampling design)


Background questionnaires

  • Student questionnaire
  • Learning to Read survey (home questionnaire)
  • Teacher questionnaire
  • School questionnaire
  • ePIRLS student questionnaire
  • Curriculum questionnaires


Descriptive encyclopedia chapters

Each country provides a chapter describing its education system, with a particular focus on reading education for primary school children.



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TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center

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E-mail: timssandpirls@bc.edu

URL: http://timssandpirls.bc.edu/index.html