Young French-speaking students in Belgium lag behind their peers elsewhere in the European Union and in the rest of the developed world in reading achievement, according to the results of the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS 2016), released on Tuesday. Students in Belgium’s Wallonia-Brussels Federation averaged 497 points in the 2016 study, nine points less than in PIRLS 2011 and much lower than the 542-point average for the countries assessed. They also scored lower than their counterparts in Flanders, who averaged 525 points.
The results corroborate those of recent Pisa studies by the OCDE. In a press release, Education Minister Marie-Martine Schyns described them as “unsatisfactory”.
The figures for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation also revealed disparities between students according to social origins, the age at which they start literacy activities and gender. Girls, for example, generally out-performed boys in reading.
The PIRLS is a large-scale international assessment of 50 countries and 11 benchmarking regions administered every five years since its inception in 2001. It is sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAE) in Amsterdam.