SES Background – School Composition, Resources, and Climate – PIRLS 2021

PIRLS 2021 International Results in Reading

School Composition, Resources, and Climate

Socioeconomic Background of the Student Body

PIRLS asked school principals to estimate the percentages of economically affluent and economically disadvantaged students in the school. As described in “About the Index,” the principals’ reports were combined to characterize schools as “more affluent,” “neither more affluent nor more disadvantaged,” or “more disadvantaged.”

For each country, Exhibit 6.1 presents the percentages of fourth grade students attending schools in each of the three categories of socioeconomic composition together with the students’ average reading achievement. On average, 43 percent of students attended schools with relatively “more affluent” students than disadvantaged students and 25 percent attended schools with relatively “more disadvantaged” than affluent students. The remaining 32 percent of students attended schools classified as “neither more affluent nor more disadvantaged.”

Consistent with the results of considerable research, PIRLS 2021 found that students who attended schools with higher proportions of economically affluent students had higher reading achievement than students attending schools with lower proportions of economically affluent students. The average achievement was highest for students in the “more affluent” schools and lowest in the “more disadvantaged” schools (521 and 479, respectively). Average reading achievement for students attending “neither more affluent nor more disadvantaged” schools was in the middle—502 scale score points, on average.