Reading Curriculum in the Primary Grades

Whether formulated at the national, community, or school level, countries have curricula that define what students should be taught, providing expectations for students in terms of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be developed or acquired through their formal reading instruction.

Curricular aspects and governing policies particularly relevant to the acquisition of reading literacy include the standards or benchmarks established for reading development. A coherent progression of instruction and comprehension strategies for reading development includes a change in emphasis from decoding to comprehension strategies, and access to a wide variety of reading materials, as well as sensible differentiation policies for accelerated readers and struggling readers.

Especially relevant to the ePIRLS assessment of online informational reading is the extent to which a country’s curriculum emphasizes online reading and new media. As documented in the PIRLS 2016 Encyclopedia, some countries have transformed their standards, curriculum, and assessments in order to address teaching elementary school students digital reading strategies such as how to navigate and retrieve online information.151,152

In every assessment cycle, PIRLS National Research Coordinators report on their country’s reading curriculum through the PIRLS encyclopedia. Data gathered about the reading curriculum from the curriculum questionnaire has evolved over the cycles to also include how the implementation of the curriculum is evaluated, the use of technology in reading instruction, and the degree of emphasis placed on digital reading in the curriculum.

Students with Reading Difficulties

Countries have taken initiatives to ensure that education is inclusive of all students, providing equal educational opportunities to all students, including those with reading difficulties.153 In order for appropriate accommodations to be made to student learning and assessment, it is important to identify students who need these accommodations. Identification of reading difficulties such as dyslexia early in students’ education can help educators determine the best course of action for these students and prevent students from falling further behind in their reading development.154 PIRLS 2021 gathers information on national provisions regarding diagnostic testing for reading difficulties and instruction for children with reading difficulties.