PIRLS 2021: COVID-19 Preliminary findings from the implementation of PIRLS in 2020 Publications
New Zealand took part in the fifth cycle of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, ‘PIRLS 2021’ in Term 4, 2020. PIRLS provides information on Year 5 students’ reading literacy/comprehension every five years.
Author(s): Megan Chamberlain and Jessica Forkert [Educational Measurement and Assessment, Ministry of Education]
Date Published: April 2022
PIRLS 2021 was implemented in New Zealand during Term 4 of 2020. It was particularly challenging as the delivery mode for the assessment transitioned from a paper format to a digital platform and it took place in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 7850 Year 5 students took part, as well as principals and teachers in schools where the assessment was implemented digitally. This paper considers first students and teachers’ preparedness to study and work at home, drawing on evidence from PIRLS, NMSSA, and the Education Review Office. It then summarises responses from New Zealand school principals, teachers, and parents/caregivers of Year 5 students to questions on the impact of COVID-19 included in PIRLS 2021. The questions were mostly developed with all participating countries in mind and with the knowledge that countries were experiencing the pandemic in different ways, including how severely the pandemic affected their normal lives. Although preliminary, it seems Year 5 students were generally well-prepared and confident to work digitally at home. Teachers too were generally prepared to use digital technology, but PIRLS did not capture information about how they fared working remotely from their homes. The principals and teachers of Year 5 students were concerned about the negative impact of COVID-19 on schools’ ability to deliver the curriculum and on students’ learning progress in 2020. In contrast, parents/caregivers who responded appeared less concerned about the negative impact on their child’s progress. The international PIRLS 2021 results will be released in December 2022.
- Internet-based resources were the most common form of support schools provided to Year 5 students for their home-based learning, alongside recommendations for online instruction provided to teachers.
- Most parents/caregivers felt the resources they received met the cultural and identity needs of the children; whānau also supported their child’s home-based learning, mostly through the provision of books and digital devices.
- Most principals reported their school’s ability to deliver the curriculum during 2020 was affected at least slightly. Almost all teachers recorded their Year 5 students’ learning progress having been adversely impacted to at least some extent.
- Parents/caregivers who responded appeared to be less concerned about the adverse impact of the pandemic on their child’s learning progress.
- Principals and teachers of Year 5 students in deciles 1–4 schools, and their parents/caregivers were more likely to note the adverse impacts than their counterparts in deciles 5–10 and independent schools.
For queries about the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) please email the: PIRLS Mailbox