PIRLS 2001: Reading Literacy in New Zealand

Final Results from PIRLS and the Repeat of the 1990-1991 Reading Literacy Study (10-Year Trends Study) for Year 5 Students

Publication Details

This document is a summary of the final results from New Zealand's participation in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the partial replication of the 1990-1991 IEA Reading Literacy Study (10-Year Trends Study). These studies involved Year 5 students and were administered in New Zealand in November 2001.

Author(s): Comparative Education Research Unit, Ministry of Education

Date Published: April 2003


In 2001, New Zealand and 34 other countries took part in the first Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS-01). New Zealand and eight of the other participating countries also took part in the 10-Year Trends Study, which partially replicated the 1990-1991 IEA Reading Literacy Study.

In New Zealand, these two studies assessed the reading literacy of two different groups of Year 5 students. This report presents, in an international context, an overview of findings from these two studies for New Zealand students.

Key Findings from PIRLS-01

  • The mean score for New Zealand students (529) was higher than the international mean (500). This difference was statistically significant.
  • The difference between the mean scores for girls and for boys in New Zealand was one of the largest to be observed internationally.
  • The spread of scores for New Zealand students was wider than the spread for students in most other countries.

Key Findings from 10-Year Trends Study

  • As measured by this study, students' overall performance in reading literacy was virtually the same in 2001 (502) as it was in 1990 (498).
  • The difference between girls and boys mean scores was of the same order in 2001 as it was in 1990.
  • A higher proportion of New Zealand students reported speaking a language other than English in the home in 2001 than in 1990, with this increase statistically significant.


  1. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

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