Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study 2011
Socio-Economic/Monitoring Survey [hh/sems]
The PIRLS 2011 aimed to generate a database of student achievement data in addition to information on student, parent, teacher, and school background data for the 57 areas that participated
Kind of Data
Sample survey data
Unit of Analysis
Individuals and institutions
DataFirst downloaded a version of the PIRLS data (as prepared by IEA) on the 31st of August 2015. This dataset was originally made available as 399 separate datafiles that were defined by area of assessment and datafile type (Student Achievement File, Student Background File, Teacher Background File, Home Background File, School Background File, Student-Teacher Linkage File, and PIRLS Within-country Scoring Reliability File). That is, 57 areas and 7 separate datafile types (57 multiplied by 7 yields 399). All datafiles of the same type were combined to yield seven separate datafiles which contained all areas. This is the first version of such a dataset hosted by DataFirst.
The PIRLS 201 contains information on the following:
• Student achievement (in PIRLS designed test)
• Teacher background
• Student background
• School background
• Parent background
The survey had international coverage
PIRLS is a study of student achievement in reading comprehension in primary school, and is targeted at the grade level in which students are at the transition from learning to read to reading to learn, which is the fourth grade in most countries. The formal definition of the PIRLS target population makes use of UNESCO's International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) in identifying the appropriate target grade:
"…all students enrolled in the grade that represents four years of schooling, counting from the first year of ISCED Level 1, providing the mean age at the time of testing is at least 9.5 years. For most countries, the target grade should be the fourth grade, or its national equivalent."
As a new initiative in 2011, prePIRLS was developed as a less difficult version of PIRLS to provide more assessment options for developing countries where students may not be prepared for the demands of PIRLS. prePIRLS is based on the same view of reading comprehension as PIRLS but is designed to assess basic reading skills that are a prerequisite for success on PIRLS. Botswana, Colombia, and South Africa administered prePIRLS to their fourth grade students. Colombia also administered PIRLS to the same fourth grade students, providing the basis for a link between the PIRLS and prePIRLS scales.
Producers and sponsors
International Association for Educational Attainment
International Study Centre
National Centre for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education
UK’s National Foundation for Educational Research
The basic sample design used in PIRLS 2011 was a two-stage stratified cluster design, with the first stage consisting of a sample of schools, and the second stage consisting of a sample of intact classrooms from the target grade in the sampled schools. Intact classes of students are sampled rather than individuals from across the grade level or of a certain age because PIRLS pays particular attention to students’ curricular and instructional experiences.
Each country participating in PIRLS 2011 needed a plan for defining its national target population and applying the TIMSS and PIRLS sampling methods to achieve a nationally representative sample of schools and students. The development and implementation of the national sampling plan is a collaborative exercise involving the country’s National Research Coordinator (NRC) and the PIRLS sampling experts.
For a full table of school participation rates, which vary by country, please see Appendix C on page 262 of the PIRLS 2011 Report.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
Each country was responsible for carrying out all aspects of the data collection, using standardized procedures developed for the study. Manuals provided explicit instructions to the NRCs and their staff members on all aspects of the data collection – from contacting sampled schools to packing and shipping materials to the IEA Data Processing Center for processing and verification. Manuals were also prepared for test administrators and for individuals in the sampled schools who work with the national centers to arrange for the data collection within the schools. These manuals addressed all aspects of the assessment administration within schools (including test security, distribution of booklets, timing and conduct of the testing session, and returning materials to the national center).
PIRLS Background Questionnaires
By gathering information about children’s experiences together with reading achievement on the PIRLS test, it is possible to identify the factors or combinations of factors that relate to high reading literacy. An important part of the PIRLS design is a set of questionnaires targeting factors related to reading literacy. PIRLS administered four questionnaires: to the tested students, to their parents, to their reading teachers, and to their school principals.
Each student taking the PIRLS reading assessment completes the student questionnaire. The questionnaire asks about aspects of students’ home and school experiences – including instructional experiences and reading for homework, selfperceptions and attitudes towards reading, out-of-school reading habits, computer use, home literacy resources, and basic demographic information.
Learning to Read (Home) Survey
The learning to read survey is completed by the parents or primary caregivers of each student taking the PIRLS reading assessment. It addresses child-parent literacy interactions, home literacy resources, parents’ reading habits and attitudes, homeschool connections, and basic demographic and socioeconomic indicators.
The reading teacher of each fourth-grade class sampled for PIRLS completes a questionnaire designed to gather information about classroom contexts for developing reading literacy. This questionnaire asks teachers about characteristics of the class tested (such as size, reading levels of the students, and the language abilities of the students). It also asks about instructional time, materials and activities for teaching reading and promoting the development of their students’ reading literacy, and the grouping of students for reading instruction. Questions about classroom resources, assessment practices, and home-school connections also are included. The questionnaire also asks teachers for their views on opportunities for professional development and collaboration with other teachers, and for information about their education and training.
The principal of each school sampled for PIRLS responds to the school questionnaire. It asks school principals about enrollment and school characteristics (such as where the school is located, resources available in the surrounding area, and indicators of the socioeconomic background of the student body), characteristics of reading education in the school, instructional time, school resources (such as the availability of instructional materials and staff), home-school connections, and the school climate.
Public use files, available to all
International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study 2011 Version 1.1 [dataset]. Chestnut Hill, MA: PIRLS International Study Centre [producer], 2012. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2015. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/9arw-5m72