Reading ability of western kids worsens

AFP
The reading ability of children aged 9 and 10 has declined in the United States, Canada, France and several developed countries, according to a comparative study of 50 countries.
AFP

The reading ability of children aged 9 and 10 has declined in the United States, Canada, France and several developed countries, according to a comparative study of 50 countries published on Tuesday.

Ten countries fared worse, compared with five years ago, in the 2016 PIRLS assessment of pupils in their fourth year of schooling. 

They are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iran, Israel, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal and the US.

Eighteen countries — including Russia and Qatar — made improvements.

Russia and Singapore topped the boards with 581 and 576 points respectively in the study of 319,000 children, who were assessed on their ability to understand literary and informational texts.

Egypt scored 330 points, while South Africa finished at the bottom with 320 points.

Girls outperformed boys in 48 countries, with an average difference of 19 points.

Boys’ reading skills particularly lagged those of girls in mostly Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran, but the gap was also large in secular South Africa.

The study, conducted by the IEA international education charity, based in the Netherlands, is the fourth of its kind since 2001.

It has comparative information on time and resources devoted to teaching reading but does not draw conclusions, or make suggestions, about how countries could improve.

In France, reading standards among fourth-gradershave fallen steadily since 2001.

In the US, 98 percent of the students had a library in their classroom, compared to just 14 percent in Egypt.


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