Russia leads in 2016 international reading rankings
The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study has put Russia on top as it scored the highest result, with an average score of 581, taking top place out of the 50 countries that took part in the tests, which measure the reading levels of 10-year-olds while South Africa is last out of 50 countries followed by Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait and Oman.The tests, which were taken by more than 319,000 students, are run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement in Amsterdam, and Boston College, USA. In the second position was Singapore with an average score of 576, followed by Hong Kong at 569, the Republic of Ireland 567 and Finland 566 in fifth. Also, Northern Ireland, England, Ireland and Poland were all in the top band of performance.Australia on the other hand fell in the middle band, along with the USA and Canada, but performed better than France, New Zealand and Spain.The study, which is conducted every five years, assesses the reading and comprehension at the fourth grade level of the participating countries and areas.Reading the report, it is clear in the last few years, several countries have been promoting reading programs, researching and developing teaching strategies, encouraging morning reading exercises, increasing reading classrooms in libraries, and helping schools to collect books to help the stable growth of the reading abilities of their country’s students. Your blogger also noted that the most recent survey was also the the first to include ePIRLS, which is a computer-based assessment that uses a simulated internet environment to access fourth grade students on their online reading.Going through the study, me think that many countries should be pleased that they have done something to address what was flagged as a real issue in previous studies, and that some of them, their top level seems to be improving.However, on further analysis and scrutiny there is still a lot of work to be done. The big issue is the proportion of students who are still not reading at a proficient standard internationally, and the fact that it’s stil l based on equity grouping, so it’s still lower socio-economic status students who are missing out. For example, four out of five grade 4 children in South Africa cannot understand what they read.One in five English 10-year olds reached the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study advanced benchmark in 2016, meaning they could find significant actions and details embedded in the story. This is an increase from 18 per cent in 2011.The proportion of English 10-year olds who did not reach the low benchmark, meaning they cannot find explicitly stated information in a story, fell from 5 per cent in 2011 to 3 per cent in 2016.
There has been no change in the proportion of English 10-year olds who do not like reading in the last five years, but the percentage who like reading has risen from 26 per cent to 35 per cent, with the remaining children saying they somewhat like reading. As one of those people on this planet who believes in reading, I can conclusively say that this latest ranking shows that book industry is experiencing significant changes, with the development of digital publishing and retailing and the introduction of e-books. This new research reveals there is a strong culture of books and reading in developed countries, and while many readers are accessing books in both print and digital forms, nearly nine in ten are still reading print books including your blogger and even with the young generation, its not likely to change. Although digital technology and an array of entertainment and information options have changed current kids daily habits, reading books is still an important and highly valued part of our lives, ranking above watching TV as a preferred leisure activity.The report is encouraging and to see that kids value stories and on average, read more than a book per month and spend five hours a week reading is superb news. The good positives from the report is that in general kids want to read more, so the challenge in the literature sector is to find ways and spaces to capture the hearts and minds of the kids.The saddest part of the study shows that a fully stocked school library has little impact on pupils’ reading skills.Year 5 pupils in schools without a library scored an average of 562 points in the test, while those with access to more than 5,000 book titles at schools scored an average of 565.Stronger reading skills were linked to the type of books pupils read. Study found that English pupils given longer fiction books with chapters to read once a week achieved higher scores, earning 561 points on average, compared with 554 who read this type of book less than once a week. On the other hand, pupils given short stories or plays at least once a week did not score better than those assigned these texts less often. Similarly, reading more nonfiction books did not correlate with higher scores. In reading lessons, 97 per cent of teachers claimed to use mixed-ability groups, and 97 per cent said they teach reading as a whole-class activity.Then 55 per cent of pupils had access to computers for reading lessons, but once again, this did not result in higher scores.Of the pupils who did use computers for reading, 26 per cent were asked by their teachers to read digital texts in their reading lessons at least once a week. A further 13 per cent were taught strategies for reading digital texts, and 25 per cent learned how to be critical when reading on the internet.