PIRLS 2005/06

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study 2005/06 (PIRLS-2005/06) is the second in a cycle of studies designed to measure trends in reading literacy achievement of Year 5 students.

For countries that participated in the first PIRLS assessment, this cycle enables them to determine whether or not there has been any change in their students' reading literacy achievement since 2001. New countries joining PIRLS also had the opportunity to gather baseline information that allows them to monitor trends in reading achievement in future cycles.

Key Facts : PIRLS 2005/06

When:      2005 in New Zealand.

Who:         6,256 Year 5 students.

What:       Reading Literacy.

How:        Conducted under the auspices of the IEA; managed internationally by Boston College; and managed within New Zealand by the
                     Ministry of Education.

Where:    40 countries in 2005/06 (and 5 benchmarking participants).


PIRLS 2005/06 used an updated, revised Assessment Framework, a foundation document which described the processes of reading comprehension, purposes for reading, and reading behaviours and attitudes to be assessed by the study. The document also sets out the contextual framework for the study. The 2nd edition of this document was released early in 2006.

As with the first cycle, PIRLS 2001, this second cycle PIRLS 2005/06 provides information on the impact of the home environment on reading literacy achievement and how parents can foster reading literacy. It also provided extensive information about curriculum and classroom approaches to reading instruction.

PIRLS was administered in New Zealand and other Southern Hemisphere countries in late 2005 and in Northern Hemisphere countries in the first quarter of 2006.

The international results for PIRLS 2005/06 were released in November 2007, along with the PIRLS 2006 Encyclopedia, a reference guide to reading education in participating countries.

Key Findings

The following are the key findings from PIRLS 2005/06:

  • The mean reading score for New Zealand Year 5 students (532) was statistically significantly higher than the international average (500). New Zealand's mean was higher than the averages for 19 countries, and similar to the average for 3 countries (Chinese Taipei, Scotland, and the Slovak Republic). It was significantly lower that the average for students in 17 countries including England, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the United States of America.
  • There was no significant change in New Zealand students' mean achievement in reading literacy from 2001 to 2005/06.
  • While girls consistently achieved above boys for all but two of the participating countries, New Zealand had one of the largest gender differences favouring girls to be observed internationally.
  • There was no significant change in either New Zealand's Year 5 girls' or Year 5 boys' mean achievement in reading from 2001 to 2005.
  • Compared with many other countries in PIRLS 2005/06 New Zealand has a relatively large group of students who demonstrated that they had very advanced reading comprehension skills.
  • New Zealand also had a relatively wide range of scores with the difference between highest and lowest achieving students being 290 score points. While this is same as for England (290), with Scotland's range (266) lower, other high performing countries (such as Sweden 210 and the Netherlands 174) have much narrower ranges. Not all of New Zealand's difference can be attributed to the lowest achieving students as students achieving at the very highest level increase the size of the spread.
  •  New Zealand's weaker students are likely to have difficulties in locating a specific part of a story, or locating and reproducing explicitly-stated information in a text.
  • In 2005/06, New Zealand Year 5 students' performance was a little better when reading informational texts than literary texts. The opposite was observed in 2001.
  • They were also relatively better with their interpreting, integrating and evaluating skills than retrieving information and doing straightforward inferencing. This was also the case in 2001.

Related Pages

Where to find out more

Contact Us

Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email:      Requests EDK
Phone:    +64 4 463 8065