Assessment Framework for PIRLS 2021

Assessment frameworks are developed to identify what should be assessed and how it should be assessed.  Thus, the PIRLS framework defines reading literacy, and describes the purposes for reading and the processes for comprehension that are assessed by the PIRLS and ePIRLS test materials.

The PIRLS 2021 framework (Mullis & Martin, 2019, p. 6) defines reading literacy as “the ability to understand and use those written language forms required by society and/or valued by the individual. Readers can construct meaning from texts in a variety of forms. They read to learn, to participate in communities of readers in school and everyday life, and for enjoyment.”

Reading purposes relate to why pupils read – usually to acquire information or for literary experience.  Therefore, half of the PIRLS test content is based on literary-type texts and half on informational-type texts.

Processes of comprehension relate to how readers construct meaning from what they read.  The PIRLS framework outlines four main processes:

  • Focus on and retrieve explicitly stated information.
  • Make straightforward inferences.
  • Interpret and integrate ideas and information.
  • Evaluate and critique content and textual elements.

Each of the four processes is assessed by a number of questions in the test booklets.

The PIRLS framework also establishes the national contexts to be covered in the PIRLS 2021 Encyclopedia, and outlines the rationale for the inclusion of items in the questionnaires to be completed by pupils, parents, teachers, and school principals.  The full framework can be accessed here: