Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)

Last updated: January 08, 2021

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international assessment that measures trends in the reading achievement of Grade 4 students, as well as policies and practices related to literacy. The study is carried out by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). In Canada, PIRLS is coordinated by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC)

PIRLS is currently the only international program that assesses the reading achievement of Canadian students in the early years of education. PIRLS represents a unique opportunity for Canadian provinces to obtain data on the reading achievement of Grade 4 students and compare them against student achievement in other provinces and countries. For the assessment, students read passages and answered a number of multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. 

The first PIRLS assessment took place in 2001, and takes place every five years. B.C. has taken part in PIRLS since 2006.

45 countries participate in PIRLS. In Canada, 9 provinces except for Prince Edward Island took part. Within each jurisdiction (country or region), schools and classes or students are randomly selected to participate in PIRLS. Internationally, approximately 325 000 students take part in PIRLS. In B.C. approximately 2 600 students from 148 schools participated.

To better understand factors associated with reading performance, questionnaires were also completed by students, parents, teachers, and principals.