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Department of Educational Sciences and Psychology

PIRLS 2021 results published

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Gruppenfoto mit Wissenschaftler*innen des IFS © IFS​/​TU Dortmund

20 years of the PIRLS international comparative study: What has happened? Have we succeeded in achieving the goals we set for the further development of education in Germany? The current Progress In Reading Literacy Study, or PIRLS for short, provides an impression of this. The results of the current survey were presented at the Federal Press Conference on May 16. The results show a sobering picture: the average reading proficiency of fourth graders in Germany is 524 points, which is in the middle of the international range, but compared to the initial survey in 2001 (539 points) and all subsequent surveys (2006: 548, 2011: 541, 2016: 537 points), the average performance has dropped significantly.

In addition to the decline in mean performance, the differences between good and weak readers in Germany have also widened compared to 2001. Moreover, the proportion of good to very good readers decreased from 47 percent in 2001 to 39 percent in 2021, while at the same time the proportion of those who did not reach intermediate proficiency level III increased from 17 percent in 2001 to 25 percent in 2021. Thus, the various measures taken over the past two decades have had little effect in improving educational success and equity in Germany.

PIRLS 2021 is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany. For more information, please visit the PIRLS project page.