Global study confirms impact of COVID on learning to read

Global study confirms impact of COVID on learning to read


The acquisition of reading by schoolchildren around the world has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, according to an international study of 400,000 students across 57 countries and published on Tuesday . 

“The Pirls is the first large-scale international assessment based on data collection during the COVID-19 pandemic”, underline the authors of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls), carried out every five years since 2001 and led by the IEA, an international non-profit association whose members are research organizations.

It highlights “the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”, with “nearly half of students who attended schools where regular classes were interrupted for eight weeks or more.”

This results in “lower reading levels in 21 out of 32 countries that had comparable trend data between 2016 and 2021”. Only eight other countries out of these 32 have a stable level of reading, and three others have even better results.

With an average overall score of 514 points, France is above the international average (500 points), but below the European average (527 points).

The vast majority of European Union (EU) countries show a statistically significant drop, on average of 11 points compared to 2016.

In the study, 21 countries score higher than France. Singapore (587), Hong Kong (573) and Russia (567) show the best results. The first countries in the European Union are Finland (549) and Poland (549).

Finally, girls obtain higher performances than boys in all the countries studied, except Spain and the Czech Republic. This is also the case in France, where the difference between the average score of girls (521) and that of boys (507) is quite marked, notes the study.