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Queensland Lifts Australia’s Reading Results in Global Test

6 December 2017

Queensland Year 4 students are better readers than they were five years ago, achieving some of the greatest literacy gains in the nation, according to the results of an international reading test.

Test data released today reveals primary school students from Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria recorded the biggest improvements in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) between 2011 and 2016.

According to analysis of the PIRLS results by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), on the world stage Australia performed significantly better than 24 countries, achieved similar results to 12 countries, but was outperformed by 13 countries, including Singapore and Finland.

More than 580,000 Year 4 students in 50 countries, including 6,341 from 286 Australian schools, participated in PIRLS in 2016. Australia first participated in the global test in 2011.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) Executive Director David Robertson said Queensland’s reading gains mirrored the state’s improved results in NAPLAN over the past decade.

“Unlike some of the other states, Queensland students are making gains across the board, with greater proportions of students reaching the two highest international benchmarks and fewer performing at the lowest levels,” Mr Robertson said.

“Schools, principals and teachers deserve praise for their dedication to supporting all students to become proficient readers in these critical early primary years,” he said.

“Independent schools have invested heavily in quality teaching initiatives, underpinned by more rigorous analysis of student and school data, to lift student outcomes in literacy.”

“Creating and sustaining a culture of school improvement over time requires strategic leadership and quality teaching at the classroom coalface.”

ACER’s analysis of the 2016 PIRLS test results, Reporting Australia’s Results, found:

  • almost 80% of Queensland students achieved or exceeded the intermediate international benchmark, which is defined as Australia’s proficient reading standard
  • Queensland students recorded improvements at every reading level, with more than double the proportion of students achieving the highest benchmark (14%) than 2011 (6%) and fewer students performing at or below the low reading benchmark
  • a gender gap exists in reading performance at the national level, which is mirrored in Queensland, with girls outperforming boys
  • across Australia there was no significant change in the average scores of Indigenous students between 2011 and 2016
  • Australian students who reported having many books in their home were better readers than those with access to an average number or few books
  • Australian students who attended schools which placed a greater emphasis on academic success achieved better reading results.


Media Contact: Justine Nolan 0428 612 315 or

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