International meeting of reading literacy researchers in Jyväskylä

Finnish Institute for Educational Research
University of Jyväskylä

Press release, August 10th 2015

On Monday 10th of August, researchers from over 50 countries gather for a meeting concerning an international reading literacy study (PIRLS 2016) in Jyväskylä Paviljonki. PIRLS, like PISA, is an international assessment study but the only study that examines the reading literacy skills of primary school students. There are approximately 130 participants in the meeting that will last until Friday.

– It’s wonderful to have these reading literacy experts from different countries here in Jyväskylä, especially now at the start of the new school year. It reminds us how extremely important reading literacy is all around the world but also how different the circumstances, where children learn how to read, are. We all have a mutual goal here, to make sure that children all over the world receive such education in reading literacy that they will find their own place in life, says researcher and the national coordinator of PIRLS Inga Arffman from the Finnish Institute for Educational Research.

According to the latest PISA and PIRLS results, Finland is one of the top countries in reading literacy. Because reading skills of early age create a basis for the reading literacy development, PIRLS results help to explain also older students’ success in reading literacy.

– Finland’s good reputation in reading literacy is one of the reasons we’ve waited for this meeting so enthusiastically, states Ina Mullis, one of the directors of the international PIRLS project.


ICT literacy introduced in the study


In the PIRLS exam, each student receives a printed booklet, which includes one literary text and one expository text and both multiple choice and open question tasks related to these texts. For the first time there is an opportunity to participate in the ICT literacy exam as well. However, Finland is not participating in this yet.

– The assessment of ICT literacy is a new exciting addition to the PIRLS 2016 study. In the modern ICT society, students use the internet to find information in any subject. All around the world the importance of ICT literacy has begun to emerge in curricula, Mullis describes.

In addition to the traditional reading literacy exam, teachers, parents, and school heads are requested to fill out background information questionnaires. They provide information on how reading experiences in childhood have affected children’s reading today, for example.

PIRLS was organized for the first time in 2001 and at the moment there are approximately 60 countries participating. Meetings such as this take place usually every six months, every time in a different country. The purpose of this meeting is to finish the exam material, which has been tested earlier during the field trial, organised in spring 2015.

In Finland, the study is carried out by the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä.

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