PIRLS 2021

Progress in International Reading Literacy Study 2021

20 Years of Trends in Reading Achievement

IEA's PIRLS 2021 will be the fifth cycle in the PIRLS assessment. PIRLS provides internationally comparative data on how well children read by assessing students’ reading achievement at the fourth grade.

PIRLS collects considerable background information from the assessed students, their parents, teachers and school principals on how education systems provide educational opportunities to their students, as well as the factors that influence how students use these opportunities. Background data include information about: national curriculum policies in reading; how the education system is organized to facilitate learning; students’ home environment for learning; school climate and resources; and how instruction actually occurs in classrooms. Trend results across assessments permit countries to monitor the effectiveness of their educational systems in a global context.

The TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College, United States, serves as the international study center for PIRLS 2021, working in close cooperation with the IEA, and the national centers of participating countries.

For more information, please visit the PIRLS website.

Why Participate in PIRLS 2021?

PIRLS is recognized as the global standard for assessing trends in reading achievement at the fourth grade. For countries that have participated in previous cycles, 2021 will provide data on two decades of international trends in reading achievement. Joining PIRLS is an opportunity to join a world-class assessment of reading comprehension which is recognized as providing valuable data for monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

PIRLS was initiated as a paper-based assessment and this delivery mode is still an option for countries. To keep up to date with how children read and learn information, PIRLS 2021 introduces the option for participants to administer computer based assessments. The digitalPIRLS reading assessment includes a variety of engaging, visually attractive passages that motivate students to read, interact with the texts and answer comprehension questions. digitalPIRLS includes the ePIRLS assessment of online reading that was initiated in 2016, which was designed to monitor how well students read, interpret and critique information in an online environment that looks and feels like the internet.

PIRLS 2021 offers two modes of delivery, enabling participants to select the administration path best suited to assessing their education system.

(1) A new digital PIRLS assessment, which integrates all aspects of the standard PIRLS assessment and previous ePIRLS assessment
(2) A paper-only version of the PIRLS assessment

PIRLS 2021 Participants

Albania, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium (French), Belgium (Flemish), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada (with Ontario and Quebec as benchmarking entities), Chile, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macao, Malta, Morocco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation (with Moscow City as a benchmarking entity), Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (with Abu Dhabi and Dubai as benchmarking entities), United States, Uzbekistan.



February: 1st National Research Coordinators Meeting - Project planning

December: 2nd National Research Coordinators Meeting - Item writing workshop


April: PIRLS 2021 Framework published online

June: 3rd National Research Coordinators Meeting - Finalizing field test intstruments


March-April: Conduct field test

October- December: Data collection in Southern Hemisphere


March-June: Data collection in Northern Hemisphere


December: Release of international results

Costs of Participating

IEA requires each participating country to cover the costs of the study at the national level (including the costs that will allow their NRC to attend study meetings), and to contribute to the costs of coordinating the study internationally.

IEA study participation fees are quoted in IEA International Currency Units (ICU): half of the total payment is billed in US dollars and half is billed in Euro. The fees are standardised for all participating entities.

For PIRLS 2021, the fee for participating in the fully digital ePIRLS assessment is ICU 375,000 (= 187,500 US dollars plus 187,500 Euro). The fee for the paper-only option of PIRLS 2021 is ICU 230,000 (= 115,000 US dollars plus 115,000 Euro).

Please see the document below for full cost details.

How to Participate in PIRLS 2021

For country enrollment, please contact IEA Amsterdam Director, Dr Andrea Netten.

Dr Andrea Netten
Director, IEA Amsterdam
Data protection

All European countries participating in IEA studies are required to prepare Data Protection Declarations (DPD) to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of Europe and country-specific amendments of the law. Non-European countries participating in IEA studies may choose either to adapt and adopt the declaration or not to use it if not required by law. IEA provides Data Protection Declaration Templates to National Research Coordinators so that they may prepare, translate and adapt national versions. 

Major Publications