Title: Reading literacy in PIRLS 2006: What factors explain achievement in 18 EU countries?
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2012
JRC N°: JRC66894
ISBN: 978-92-79-21381-6 (print)
978-92-79-21382-3 (PDF)
ISSN: 1018-5593 (print)
1831-9424 (online)
Other Identifiers: EUR 24949 EN
OPOCE LB-NA-24949-EN-C (print); LB-NA-24949-EN-N (online)
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC66894
DOI: 10.2788/75147 (print)
10.2788/77242 (online)
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: Mullis et al. (2006) claim that "PIRLS will provide a wealth of information that can be used not only to improve the reading curriculum and instruction for younger students, but also help in interpreting the results for 15-year-olds in PISA" (p. 102). However, there is no evidence that students´ achievement in PIRLS is related to literacy instruction (Shiel & Eivers, 2009). In addition, although the relationship between students´ reading scores and some background variables at the student, household, school and class within school levels have been investigated, more research is needed to identify the effects of the factors associated with reading achievement. Thus, and in order to contribute to evidence-based policy implications, we ran a secondary analysis of the PIRLS 2006 dataset for 20 EU countries to measure the effects of specific variables identified in previous investigations using PIRLS data as well as variables identified in psycholinguistic research as predictors of reading attainment. Specifically, this study addresses the following questions: 1) what is the relationship between students´ scores on the purposes and processes of reading and related curriculum and instructional coverage in the Program for International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2006 participating countries? And 2) which variables explain reading achievement in the PIRLS 2006 study? First, we ran correlations that indicate that the relationships between achievement and curriculum and instructional emphasis are very weak. The results show that the curriculum information on the PIRLS Encyclopaedia regarding curriculum emphasis as well as that reported by national representatives contributes very little to explain reading achievement. Second, we used multilevel analysis including three levels pertaining to: i) Student background characteristics, ii) Class characteristics and iii) School characteristics. Findings indicate that our model, controlled for country effects, explains 43% of the variance in students’ achievement and that the variables with the highest impact on students´ overall reading score relate to home resources and practices, students´ pre - reading knowledge and their attitudes and to school compositional effects. Country-level analysis confirms that the variables identified for the model with the 20 countries as having a strong influence on students’ reading achievement are also statistically significant in all countries, except one. These findings have important policy implications as they show which factors can be addressed by policy measures to improve students´ performance. For example, measures related to curriculum and instruction and to social equity can be implemented by national governments to reduce educational inequality. In sum, this report offers a detailed account of the reading research related to the assessment of reading literacy, explains the methodological procedures used in the analysis to answer the research questions and, after the presentation of the results, it discusses policy implications.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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