PIRLS 2011 Framework

Assessment or survey framework

Definition: Reading literacy is the ability to understand and use those written language forms required by society and/or valued by the individual. Young readers can construct meaning from a variety of texts. They read to learn, to participate in communities of readers in school and everyday life, and for enjoyment.


The two purposes for reading that account for most of the reading done by young students both in and out of school:

  • Reading for literary experience – The reader engages with the text to become involved in imagined events, setting, actions, consequences, characters, atmosphere, feelings, and ideas, and to enjoy language itself.
  • Reading to acquire and use information – The reader engages not with imagined worlds, but with aspects of the real world.


The following four processes of comprehension are assessed for each reading purpose:

  • Focus on and retrieve explicitly stated information - Reading tasks may include the following:
    • Identifying information that is relevant to the specific goal of reading
    • Looking for specific ideas
    • Searching for definitions of words or phrases
    • Identifying the setting of a story (e.g., time and place)
    • Finding the topic sentence or main idea (when explicitly stated)
  • Make straightforward inferences - Reading tasks may include the following:
    • Inferring that one event caused another event
    • Concluding what is the main point made by a series of arguments
    • Determining the referent of a pronoun
    • Identifying generalizations made in the text
    • Describing the relationship between two characters
  • Interpret and integrate ideas and information - Reading tasks may include the following:
    • Discerning the overall message or theme of a text
    • Considering an alternative to the actions of characters
    • Comparing and contrasting text information
    • Inferring a story’s mood or tone
    • Interpreting a real-world application of text information
  • Examine and evaluate content, language, and textual elements - Reading tasks may include the following:
    • Evaluating the likelihood that the events described could really happen
    • Describing how the author devised a surprise ending
    • Judging the completeness or clarity of information in the text
    • Determining an author’s perspective on the central topic
Contextual or background framework

National and community contexts (i.e., cultural, social, political, and economic factors)

  • Languages and emphasis on literacy
  • Demographics and resources
  • Organization and structure of the education system
  • Reading curriculum in the primary grades


Home contexts

  • Economic, social, and educational resources
  • Parental emphasis on literacy development
  • Parents’ reading behaviors and attitudes


School contexts

  • School characteristics
  • School organization for instruction
  • School climate for learning
  • School resources
  • Parental involvement


Classroom contexts

  • Teacher education and development
  • Teacher characteristics and attitudes
  • Classroom characteristics
  • Instructional materials and technology
  • Instructional strategies and activities
  • Assessment


Students’ reading literacy behaviors and attitudes

  • Student reading literacy behaviors
  • Positive attitudes toward reading
  • Student attitudes toward learning to read