Publication of the PIRLS 2021 Encyclopedia

The PIRLS 2021 Encyclopedia: Education Policy and Curriculum in Reading presents a profile across participating countries and benchmark systems that completed the PIRLS 2021 curriculum questionnaire. In-depth information on country’s language, reading curricula, education system, students’ progress in reading, and special reading initiatives are included in dedicated country chapters.

As PIRLS 2021 was the only international large-scale assessment administered during school closures due to COVID-19, the Encyclopedia also highlights educational challenges and innovations arising from the pandemic within participating countries. Selected findings across country chapters exhibit: 

Standards in Digital Reading Literacy
Approximately half of the participating countries have released explicit statements regarding digital literacy within the fourth grade language and reading curricula. Areas of interest among most countries include specific goals or digital reading literacy standards, recommendations for specific digital literacy curricular resources, recommendations for digital device use in reading instruction, and safety and privacy requirements for digital device use.

Insights into School Closures
Decisions regarding school closures were made at the national level in over two-thirds of PIRLS 2021 participating countries during the early part of the pandemic. The authorities who determined remote learning formats were more varied, with one-third of countries leaving the decision to individual schools, at the national level in one-third of countries, and at the provincial or local level in the remaining one-third of countries.

Initiatives to Support Fourth-Grade Readers
Participating countries reported a host of special reading initiatives, including programs aimed at parents reading to their children, organizing authors’ visits to schools, writing contests, and programs dedicated to providing books to children.


The PIRLS 2021 Encyclopedia: Education Policy and Curriculum in Reading is available. 


Recognized as the global standard for assessing trends in reading achievement at the fourth grade, PIRLS provides international comparisons of fourth grade students’ reading literacy achievement and associated factors. The study is directed by TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College and conducted every five years. PIRLS 2021 marks 20 years of trends in reading achievement since the study was first administered in 2001