What makes a good reader? Worldwide insights from PIRLS 2016

Abstract

Using hierarchical linear models, this study probes into student, family, teacher, and schools’ variables that can explain the variation in Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 results. Students’ confidence in reading, early literacy tasks, and parents’ expectations are the strongest explanatory variables of reading literacy. Teachers’ perception of class instruction being limited by students’ needs is the strongest explanatory variable of PIRLS achievement, although this was not consistently verified among all countries. No teaching strategies or other related variables emerged consistently as explanatory variables in every country. A similar result was observed in schools where the percentage of economic disadvantage students was the most consistent explanatory variable of PIRLS results. The present analysis shows that although student variables are the most consistent explanatory variables among participating countries, a general conclusion of what makes a good reader worldwide must consider all student, teacher, and school variables conjointly, acknowledging the existence of between-country variation.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Within a country, a mean difference between 1/3 and 1/2 standard deviation in the PIRLS scale was estimated to approximate one school year (Schwippert & Goy, 2007, p. 27).

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Acknowledgements

The author thanks Joana Andrade from the National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales (NFER) Center for Statistics for the critical review of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to João Marôco.

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Marôco, J. What makes a good reader? Worldwide insights from PIRLS 2016. Read Writ 34, 231–272 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-020-10068-8

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Keywords

  • Reading literacy
  • PIRLS 2016
  • Student, families, teachers, and schools’ explanatory variables