PIRLS reading result shows local students’ ‘steady development’

2023-05-17 03:00     BY Rui Pastorin    Comment:2

The Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ) said in a statement yesterday that according to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2021 International Report, which was released earlier yesterday, Macau’s Primary Four students achieved a reading performance similar to that in 2016, and their reading ability has been developing steadily.

According to Wikipedia, PIRLS is an international study of reading (comprehension) achievement in fourth graders.

Conducted every five years, Macau first participated in PIRLS in 2016 and then in 2021, when the bureau invited over 5,000 P4 students from 58 schools to participate, the statement noted. It is organised by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) headquartered in the Dutch city of Amsterdam.

The statement added that although COVID-19 pandemic challenges have been overcome and the test was completed as scheduled, nearly 40 percent of participating countries or regions had to make “drastic changes” to the testing plan owing to the pandemic. This included some having to make certain postponements, creating a bigger age gap of participants and causing long postponements for the test, affecting the comparability of data as a whole.

IEA therefore urged the participating countries and regions “to be cautious when analysing data”. An adverse impact on students’ reading learning effectiveness worldwide was also caused by the pandemic, the statement said.

The statement underlined that nearly 70 percent of the 32 countries and regions that participated in two consecutive studies showed a decline in their score. Students from Macau got an average score of 536, which the statement said was more or less the same as the result in 2016, which was 546.

The statement pointed out that the score is higher than the PIRLS scale centre point of 500 points, adding that Macau ranked worldwide 9th in 2016 to 15th among the 32 participating countries and regions in 2021. “Macau students performed better than the international medians at each of the four International Benchmarks this time”, the statement said, without elaborating.

Moreover, the study showed that among the participating countries and regions, socioeconomic status “had the least influence on the reading achievement of Macau students”, adding that Macau students with a lower socioeconomic status still performed “better than the international average”.

The statement pointed out that according to PISA 2018 (Programme for International Student Assessment 2018), another authoritative international study on 15-year-old secondary students’ learning performance, Macau was recognised as being among the “leading economies worldwide in terms of educational equity”.

Both study results, the statement said, have consistently confirmed that Macau’s education system has provided students with “equal opportunities of quality education throughout primary and secondary educational stages”.

Moreover, through questionnaires for school principals, teachers, parents and students, local schools’ hardware and software facilities were found to have advantages in promoting students’ reading efficiency, including having a generally safe and orderly campus environment, while the number of computers for teaching purposes ranked among the top in the world.

The detailed statement in Chinese, Portuguese and English can be found by visiting 

Logo of the PIRLS 2021 international report and results. – Image courtesy of IEA

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