The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., today launched the 2016 PIRLS (The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) report, which shows that Ireland’s primary school children are best in Europe and OECD countries for reading skills.
PIRLS is an international study which examines fifty countries every five years and reports on the reading achievement of pupils in Fourth Class. Fourteen of these countries, including Ireland, last year also took part in a new component (ePIRLS), which assesses reading in an online environment.
Minister Bruton has set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. Today’s results show that the reading skills of our primary school children, both in the paper based and online assessment are among the best in all European and OECD countries.
Key Results: -No country in Europe is better than Ireland for reading skills at primary level
-Irish pupils’ overall reading achievement score has improved by 15 points since the last cycle of the study which was in 2011
-The gender gap in Ireland is smaller than that the gap internationally. Furthermore, this gap has narrowed significantly between 2011 and 2016 in Ireland
-Since the last study in 2011, the number of pupils in Ireland with only basic reading skills has dropped significantly
-The percentage of Irish pupils who have advanced reading skills rose from 16% in 2011 to 21% in 2016, which is much higher than the international average in PIRLS
-Irish pupils also performed exceptionally well on the new online reading assessment in ePIRLS. Only one other country (Singapore) outperformed Ireland on this test
Overall, Ireland came fourth with 567 points in the global reading rankings behind Hong Kong (569 points), Singapore (576 points) and the leader, Russia with 581 points.
PIRLS 2016 data does not compare pupils’ performance in DEIS and non-DEIS schools. However, the most recently available data from the Educational Research Centre indicate that the reading achievement of pupils in DEIS primary schools has continued to improve from 2007 onwards. Much of this improvement has been among lower achievers.
Commenting on the report, Minister Bruton said:
“I would like to pay tribute to all principals, teachers and all those who made these fantastic results possible.
I have set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. There are many aspects to achieving this ambition but few are more important than the ability of our education system to equip our children with exceptional literacy skills. I am delighted with the results of this internationally recognised, in-depth study, which shows that no country in Europe is better than Ireland for reading performance at primary level.
I am also very encouraged by the significant improvements that have been made since the last cycle of PIRLS which was in 2011. These findings are consistent with a number of other recent, major reports including the National Assessments of English Reading and Mathematics 2014 and PISA 2015.”