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A team from the Oxford Department of Education are collaborating with primary schools in Oxfordshire and Berkshire as well as the Education Media Centre, the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Education, the A-Level Content Advisory Board, and the PIRLS National Project Manager in England to make better use of the data generated by PIRLS to help teachers improve their practice.

Helping teachers understand pirls data to improve literacy

International educational assessments, such as the Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS), receive a great deal of attention in the media and from politicians particularly in regard to the international rankings they generate.  PIRLS, specifically, studies the reading achievement as well as reading behaviours and attitudes of 9- and 10-year-olds in more than 50 countries.

The literacy rankings generated by PIRLS are widely disseminated and discussed.  But PIRLS gathers much more data than just literacy levels – it also collects information about how children’s home and school environments support learning to read.  This data is largely underused, and classroom teachers do not always understand how to use the information provided by large scale assessments like PIRLS to improve teaching practice. 

With their ESRC IAA-funded project, Dr Therese N Hopfenbeck and a team from the Oxford Department of Education hope to change that.  They will collaborate with literacy experts from primary schools in Oxfordshire and Berkshire as well as practitioners from the Education Media Centre, the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Education (Norwegian Research Council), the A-Level Content Advisory Board, and the PIRLS National Project Manager in England to make better use of the extensive information generated by PIRLS to help teachers improve their practice. 

The project team will hold two knowledge exchange workshops and co-produce practitioner-orientated infographics and data visualisations, which will be put online so that the project and its findings can be accessed by partners and practitioners. Together Dr Hopfenbeck, her team and the project partners will also create materials supporting literacy teaching in primary schools in England. Through online education and other communications, they hope to engage with people from all over the world to understand international experience and learn best practice to assist classroom teachers and improve literacy for the children of England.

This project was funded by Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

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