PIRLS 2021 International Results in Reading

On Tuesday, the 16th the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) published the results of PIRLS 2021 (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study).

In 2021, the number of countries participating in the study increased to 57. A total of 346,992 students worldwide took part in the international study. 5,637 students from 190 schools participated in PIRLS 2021 from Georgia.

The PIRLS 2021 study was conducted under different circumstances compared to previous cycles due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. A large number of students were switched to distance learning mode, therefore, the number of students in the classrooms of the schools selected for testing was less than the acceptable percentage of the reliability of the study. This is why, according to the decision of the IEA, in 14 countries (United States of America, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Qatar, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Northern Ireland, Croatia, Georgia), students wrote the test in the fall instead of the spring of 2021, and in 6 countries the test was conducted one year later. Therefore, a new stream of fourth-graders took part in the test in these countries.

Considering the mentioned circumstances, the IEA highly recommended not to compare the results of the countries that wrote the test in the fall with the results of the countries that completed the test in the spring.

During the testing period, the average age of students in Georgia was 5 months higher than the average age of students in most countries. A similar situation existed in 13 other countries, where, due to the age difference, it was difficult to compare with the previous cycles. PIRLS data indicated a substantial deterioration in achievement in the vast majority of participating countries.

It should be noted that Georgia is not in the list of countries where the average literacy score has decreased.

Along with the evaluation of the student’s achievements in literacy, the task of the research is to study the impact of school, teacher and family factors on the student’s literacy achievements and the formation of literacy skills. The impact of these factors on student achievement, the main findings and results of the research will be presented later in the form of a national research report.

At this stage, some general findings can be introduced:

  • Out of the 57 countries included in the study, only in 6 countries are boys able to have similar achievements in literacy as girls. In the remaining 51 countries, including Georgia, girls have better literacy achievements than boys. In none of the countries included in the study do boys have an advantage over girls. In Georgia, the difference between the achievements of students by gender is statistically significant and is maintained throughout the entire research cycle;
  • According to recent studies, a comparative analysis of urban and rural schools in Georgia shows the advantage of urban schools in the literacy achievement of students, although the 2021 study shows a reduction in the gap between rural and urban schools due to the improvement of rural school achievement. Improvements in rural school student outcomes were also seen in the 2019 Math and Science Achievement Scores (TIMSS 2019);
  • In the 2021 study, a statistically significant difference between the achievement of students in private and public schools remained. Private school students do better on literacy tasks.

PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) is an international literacy study of fourth-grade students conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) since 2001.

Georgia participated in the last four cycles (2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021). The research group of the National Assessment and Examinations Center is leading the PIRLS in Georgia. The research aims to evaluate the reading skills of 9-10-year-old (fourth-grade) students and determine the impact of such contextual factors as the learning environment, parental involvement, school management, teacher qualifications, information and communication technologies, etc., on the student’s learning process.

PIRLS focuses on the reading goals and comprehension processes of fiction and informational texts. Half of the PIRLS assessment focuses on acquiring literary expertise, and the other half focuses on acquiring and using information.

More on PIRLS 2021 can be explored in English at the link.

Reading in Georgia | PIRLS 2021 has Started

Some 5716 pupils and 261 teachers from 192 schools will represent Georgia in Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2021 during October 11 – 20.

Dr. Sophia Gorgodze, the Director of the National Assessment and Examinations Center discussed the ongoing PIRLS 2021 Study in Georgia

PIRLS is an international assessment of reading comprehension, which follows four years of primary schooling. The International Reading Literacy Study is conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) in up to 60 countries and 15 regions around the world. Georgia has been involved in this study since 2006 and has since participated in the 2011 and 2016 studies.

The NAEC is responsible for administering the study locally with the support of school principals and teachers.

This year PIRLS will focus on reading objectives and comprehension process. 4 important components of the reading comprehension process will be evaluated: finding and understanding the information given in the test assignment; making conclusions from the text; interpreting thoughts and information and integrating with existing knowledge; evaluating and critical understanding of the content and textual elements.

Currently, the PIRLS definition of reading literacy is as follows:

“Reading literacy is the ability to understand and use those written language forms

required by society and/or valued by the individual. Readers can construct meaning

from texts in a variety of forms. They read to learn, to participate in communities of

readers in school and everyday life, and for enjoyment.”


The study aims to collect considerable background information from the assessed 9-10-year-old students, their parents, teachers and school principals on how education systems provide educational opportunities to their students, as well as the factors that influence how students use these opportunities. Background data include information about: national curriculum policies in reading; how the education system is organized to facilitate learning; students’ home environment for learning; school climate and resources; and how instruction actually occurs in classrooms. Trend results across assessments permit countries to monitor the effectiveness of their educational systems in a global context.

The PIRLS assessment provides internationally comparable data about how well children read together with information on student home support for literacy, curriculum and curriculum implementation, instructional practices, and school resources.

The NAEC prepares national reports and disseminates them among policy makers and school community members. PIRLS results are discussed at National Education Conferences with teachers, school leaders, education specialists, researchers, and policy makers.