PIRLS 2016: The importance of access to books and New Zealand students' reading confidence Publications
This paper uses data from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study to show the different ways Year 5 students access books and changes that have occurred since 2001, and then examines the relationship between students’ access to books for reading at home and their reading confidence.
Author(s): Megan Chamberlain, with Rebecca Essery, Educational Measurement and Assessment, Ministry of Education.
Date Published: November 2020
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) has consistently demonstrated the strong relationship between students’ level of confidence being a reader and reading achievement—students who are not confident about their reading generally have lower reading achievement while those who are very confident have higher reading achievement. Since 2001, PIRLS has also shown that New Zealand’s Year 5 students are generally much less confident as readers than their international peers. According to responses from Year 4 students in the 2014 National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA), mastering more difficult words, and reading longer, more complicated texts were approaches that could make reading less “hard” for them. Using data from PIRLS, this paper describes the different ways Year 5 students access books and changes that have occurred since 2001, and then examines the relationship between students’ access to books for reading at home and their reading confidence. The premise is that having access to books means that children are more likely to read, particularly for pleasure, which in turn increases their reading mileage. Increasing reading mileage is more likely to increase both confidence and achievement.
- Almost all schools attended by Year 5 students had libraries. There were signs that the sizes of school library book collections were decreasing.
- While most Year 5 students had access to books in their classroom libraries or reading corners, being able to borrow books and take them home was less common than in other countries such as England and Ireland.
- Compared with previous cohorts, Year 5 students in 2015 were likely to have access to smaller book collections in their homes, irrespective of the decile of the school they attended.
- Reading for fun at home had a much stronger, positive relationship with students’ reading confidence than simply having access to a lot of books, but having access to at least a reasonable size collection at home meant children were more likely to read for fun than children with few books.
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