Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international study of reading achievement in fourth graders. It is conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). "It is designed to measure children’s reading literacy achievement, to provide a baseline for future studies of trends in achievement, and to gather information about children’s home and school experiences in learning to read." PIRLS 2006 tested 215,000 students from 46 educational systems. PIRLS 2011 testing has been done and the results will be published 2012. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is another large international study that also tests reading.
PIRLS is one of the largest international collections of reading literacy. Studies of reading literacy had been conducted prior to the study of 2001. PIRLS is the successor to the IEA studies that started in 1970 and continued to 1991 with the Reading Literacy Study. The study of 2001 started the trend for the PIRLS cyclical testing. They plan on testing every five years. By administering the test every five years, it allows countries to monitor their children's literacy achievement. Also in 2001, background information about the students and schools were collected. “The reading achievement results present each country with an opportunity to examine educational policies and practices against a globally-defined benchmark, while the report also contains rich information about children's early literacy experiences and reading instruction" said PIRLS International Study Directors Ina V.S. Mullis and Michael O. Martin of Boston College.
PIRLS Assessment 
The PIRLS study consists of a main survey that consists of a written reading comprehension test and a background questionnaire. The PIRLS Reading Development Group (RDG) and National Research Coordinators (NRCs) from the 35 countries collaborate to develop the reading assessments. The assessment focuses on three main areas of literacy: process of comprehension, purposes for reading, and reading behaviors and attitudes. The background questionnaire is used to determine the reading behaviors and attitudes. The written test is designed to address the process of comprehension and the purposes for reading. There are two purposes for reading that are examined in this study: reading for literary experience and reading to acquire and use information. Each student receives 80 minutes to complete two passages and then time to complete the survey. There are a total of 8 passage. Four passages are for each purpose of reading. "With eight reading passages in total, but just two to be given to any one student, passages and their accompanying items were assigned to student test booklets according to a matrix sampling plan. The eight passages were distributed across 10 booklets, two per booklet, so that passages were paired together in a booklet in as many different ways as possible."
Background Questionnaire 
- Home/Parents --
This questionnaire includes questions about "students’ early reading experiences, child-parent literacy interactions, parents’ reading habits and attitudes, home-school connections, and demographic and socioeconomic indicators."
- Students --
This questionnaire includes questions about "instructional experiences, self-perception and attitudes towards reading, out-of-school reading habits, computer use, home literacy resources, and basic demographic information."
- Teachers --
This questionnaire includes questions about "characteristics of the class tested, instructional activities for teaching reading, classroom resources, assessment practices, and about their education, training, and opportunities for professional development."
- Schools --
This questionnaire includes questions about "enrollment and school characteristics, school organization for reading instruction, school staffing and resources, home-school connections, and the school environment."
Questionnaire Development Group 
- Ivana Krizova (Czech Republic)
- Mike Marshall (Canada)
- Monica Rosén (Sweden)
- Graham Ruddock (England)
- Maurice Walker (New Zealand)
Participating Offices 
- IEA Headquarters in Amsterdam
- International Study Center (ISC) at Boston College
- Statistics Canada
- Educational Testing Services in Princeton, NJ
- National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in Great Britain
- Reading Development Group (RDG)
Reading Development Group 
- Marilyn Binkley (United States)
- Karl Blueml (Austria)
- Sue Horner (England)
- Pirjo Linnakylä (Finland)
- Martine Remond (France)
- Keen See Tan (Singapore)
- William Tunmer (New Zealand)
Participating Countries 
Future Studies 
The PIRLS starting a follow-up study in 2006. The plan is to try to get 150 schools with 3000-4500 students per country. They will include 35 countries and 5,400 schools. They plan to have another follow-up study in 2011 to see the long term changes.
- An Overview of PIRLS 2006: Design, Results and Subsequent Analysis, Oliver Neuschmidt, IEA Data Processing and Research Center Ina V.S. Mullis and Michael O. Martin, TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center Boston College, http://www.iaea2008.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/ca/digitalAssets/180462_Neuschmidt.pdf