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PISA in Focus

PISA in Focus is a series of monthly education policy-oriented notes designed to describe a PISA topic in a concise, user-friendly way.

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How does PISA define and measure reading literacy?

Every three years, the education community around the world eagerly awaits the release of the latest results from PISA. In addition to student proficiency in reading, mathematics and science, this December will see the publication of results on equity in education systems, school climate and students’ well-being. PISA rotates the main subject of assessment every three years, and the PISA 2018 assessment, like the PISA 2000 and 2009 assessments, focused on reading. The PISA definition of reading literacy has remained much the same over this period; in 2018, it can be summarised as understanding, using, evaluating, reflecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society. But how people read has changed since 2009. Reading now involves not only the printed page but also electronic formats. This has led to a proliferation in the amount of text encountered every day, making it all the more important that students be able to discern between fact and opinion, and navigate through different sources of text in order to construct meaning.

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