NASET News Alert

Statement by USDOE on the 2006 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) Results

November 29, 2007

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) today released the 2006 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). This assessment, focusing on students' reading comprehension and literacy, was administered to a random sampling of approximately 5,000 4th graders from across the United States. The results were then compared to students in more than 45 countries and subnational systems (e.g., Canadian provinces). The last PIRLS assessment was administered in 2001.

Following the release of the 2006 PIRLS results, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today made the following statement:

The results of this report indicate that our strong commitment to academic excellence is more important than ever.

Although our nation's 4th graders rank above the international average in reading performance on the PIRLS assessment, the U.S. score has not changed measurably from 2001. While we're seeing progress under No Child Left Behind, we can do better. If we want to sustain America's position as an economic power and innovative leader, our students must master the fundamentals.
PIRLS is just one piece of data we use to determine how our students compare with their international peers. U.S. educators and policymakers rely on other assessments, such as the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), to advise on student performance at multiple levels. In fact, I'm encouraged by recent NAEP results on 4th and 8th grade reading and math, particularly given the sample size tested in which approximately 700,000 students participated, as opposed to 5,000 U.S. students assessed under PIRLS.

Clearly, as the world becomes flatter, it's becoming more competitive. We need to do better than simply keep pace.

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