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Spain improves its reading comprehension results by fifteen points, once more above the intermediate benchmark of PIRLS

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Spanish students taking part in the international study on reading literacy carried out by the International Association for Educational Assessment (IEA) have improved by a total of fifteen points on the same tests carried out in 2011, from 513 points to 528, in both cases above the intermediate PIRLS benchmark.

Spain's positive trend has only been bettered in the OECD by Australia, which has improved by seventeen points.

These tests, carried out in April and May 2016, assess the performance in reading comprehension of readers in the 4th year of primary education every five years. Spain has taken part in the study since 2006.

Another of the most significant findings of the study is that the proportion of Spanish students lagging behind in reading comprehension is 3%, one percentage point below the OECD average and of the total European Union countries, where the figure stands at 4%.

Spain halves the proportion of children who lag behind

Spain has reduced by half the number of students who lag behind in reading comprehension, from 6% in 2011 to 3% in 2016. This variation demonstrates clearly the inclusive nature of the Spanish educational system.

Spain's total score from 14,595 students assessed in 629 centres is twelve points below the OECD average, and eleven from the European Union average, but there has been a notable growth trend, given the fact that our neighbours have scored worse than in the previous study.

This is what has happened in Portugal (down 13 points), France (down 9) and Germany (down 4). It should also be noted that as the OECD average has only improved by two points from 538 to 540, the gap between it and Spain has narrowed.

More than half of Spanish students (56%) say they like reading a lot

Another of the positive results of the study is that more than half the Spanish students, specifically 56%, say they like reading a lot. This percentage is considerably higher than the OECD average (36%) and the EU average (38%), and is only exceeded by Portugal.

The students who say they enjoy reading have a higher score: in the case of Spain, they scored 534 points.

Another important difference between the Spanish result and that of the OECD and EU averages is the level of teacher satisfaction. Nearly three out of four (73%) of teachers in Spain says they are satisfied with their profession, behind only Chile (84%), twenty points ahead of the OECD (51%) and EU (46%) averages.

It should also be noted that girls have a better performance in reading comprehension than boys in our educational system, though it is one of the smallest differences in all the systems studied. This suggests that the educational policies aimed at ending the gender gap are having their effect.

One of the fairest educational systems

The Spanish educational system is one of the fairest of the countries studied, as shown by the limited influence of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS). The results of the Spanish students correspond to the expected values for their ESCS (0.07).
If we discount this factor, the impact on the score is practically nil, which demonstrates that the Spanish educational system is one of the fairest out of the selected countries.

In addition, the average score for those whose parents have the highest educational level supports the hypothesis that Spanish students whose parents have a high educational level perform worse than the students of other participating countries in the same group. In contrast, Spanish students who are children of parents with a limited educational level perform better than those of the rest of the countries in the study.

The difference between Spanish students with parents of the highest educational level and the lowest is 51 points, one of the lowest in the sample, and higher only than Malta (30) and practically the same as Portugal (52) and the Netherlands (53).

Finally, the greater the number of books at home the higher the average score obtained in reading comprehension. In Spain, the difference between having more than 200 books and having fewer than 10 represents a difference of 62 points in reading comprehension. These differences are still higher in the OECD average and in the EU as a whole, at 73 points and nearly 75 points respectively.

It should be noted that the autonomous regions of Andalusia, Asturias, Castile-Leon, Catalonia, La Rioja, Madrid and the Basque Country participated with extended samples in order to obtain representative data of their students' performance in reading comprehension. Andalusia and Madrid have participated in the assessment with a similar sample to that of a country, and its results appear in the international report.

The overall results for Spain and the seven autonomous regions that extended their sample are analysed in comparison with the OECD and EU countries that took part in the study.

Non official translation