New Study Examines the Effects of School Closures Using PIRLS 2021 Data

On the day that the PIRLS 2021 International Database is made available to the public, IEA releases a study showing the data in use in a new study that investigates the declines in reading achievement seen in PIRLS 2021.

Recent findings from the release of PIRLS 2021 International Results in Reading reveal significant declines in reading achievement in many countries after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, confirming existing national research. The reasons for this are still largely unknown. Therefore, a study has been conducted using the latest data to examine the effects of school closures on student reading achievement using international variation in school closure policies.

Representative trend data from more than 300,000 students in 29 countries was used to examine whether the length of school closures is related to changes in student achievement before and after the outbreak of COVID-19.

Commenting on the latest findings, the Co-Head of IEA’s Research and Analysis Unit, Dr. Rolf Strietholt said, “We believe that our findings could offer valuable insights into understanding the educational challenges presented by the pandemic. At the onset of COVID-19, countries were largely working in the dark and limited evidence was available on the benefits and costs of decisions, like whether or not to close schools. New PIRLS data now available open access will support countries with making more informed decisions in the event of future disruptions to education in the case of future pandemics, or other events like teacher strikes, or armed conflicts.”

The new study is entitled School Closure Policies and Student Reading Achievement: Evidence Across Countries by Alec I. Kennedy and Rolf Strietholt. Find the paper containing the full findings here.

Posted: 22.06.2023