In 2016 the Progress in International Reading Literacy study (PIRLS) was conducted in Northern Ireland. NFER was commissioned by the Department of Education to administer the survey. Pupils aged 9 – 10, that is Primary 6 pupils, took part in the survey. Your child’s school will have told you if it was one of the schools selected to represent Northern Ireland.

What is the purpose of PIRLS?

The study aims to assess achievement in reading amongst pupils in countries world-wide. PIRLS provides the opportunity to compare achievement internationally and to learn from different countries’ experiences. PIRLS is not solely focused on reading achievement. It also collects information about characteristics of schools, teachers, pupils and their homes to examine the learning environment in which pupils learn and teachers teach. This information can be used to identify factors that influence academic achievement and pupils’ attitudes towards learning and to provide educational policymakers, school leaders, teachers and researchers with powerful insights in order to make recommendations aimed at improving teaching and learning mathematics and science.

What was involved for my child?

The survey was administered during normal school hours. A trained PIRLS administrator visited your child’s school and conducted the survey, which took approximately two and a half hours, including the assessment itself and breaks. Pupils were asked to answer reading questions and fill out a questionnaire about their home, school and their feelings towards learning and being at school. For example, pupils were asked to state how much they enjoyed learning reading at school and how much they felt they belong to the school.

There was no need for any special preparation or studying.

What happened to my child’s data?

NFER adheres strictly to the Data Protection Act and, to ensure confidentiality, no information concerning individual pupils, teachers or schools will be identified in any report.

  • The Department of Education will not be advised which schools have been selected to participate in the study
  • Neither the NFER nor the Department of Education will pass on the results of schools’ performance to anyone
  • Although the final data will be available on the IEA website, all schools and pupils will be anonymised
  • NFER sent the data to the international TIMSS team for analysis. All published data will be anonymous