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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Improved PIRLS reading scores for Dubai students

Tests revealed improved performance in students across the emirate

Teaching children to read is not the sole responsibility of the school but also of parents, says Adec. Ravindranath K / The National
Teaching children to read is not the sole responsibility of the school but also of parents, says Adec. Ravindranath K / The National

Dubai’s 10 year-olds have improved reading scores, according to results published in an international assessment study.

The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) shows students in Dubai’s private schools scored 527 points overall – improving 37 average points from their previous performance in 2011.

Fourth graders from private schools in Dubai scored 539 in ePIRLS – a computer-based assessment – in 2016, significantly higher than the international average.

More than 7,000 students from Dubai participated in the reading tests and they outperformed students in France, Belgium and Chile.

“The success of Dubai’s students reflects our increased emphasis on improving reading skills and raising education standards across schools,” said Dr Abdulla Al Karam, chairman of the Board of Directors and director general of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai.

“Our rise in the global rankings is commendable and it affirms our continued progress in achieving UAE national agenda goals. These results will have a positive impact on our schools, teachers and students as we will continue to work on new initiatives that provide opportunities to collaborate and share successful experiences.”

More than 60 per cent of private school students in Dubai scored at and above the international average in PIRLS, and 62 per cent in ePIRLS.

“These results align with our school inspection findings and we are continuing to see improvements,” said Fatma Belrehif, executive director of Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau at KHDA.

“Reading skills are a key focus area for the inspections as making reading enjoyable at schools greatly impacts learning in other subjects,” she said.

The UAE has come a long way in education reform – a few years ago, students at schools in the Emirates were found to have performed poorly in literacy, science and mathematics.

Tests for 2011 revealed a performance gap between Emirati and expatriate children and the performance of pupils at UAE schools, although better than in other Arab countries, was below the world average.

The PIRLS assessment, which has been running since 2001, involves nine and 10 year-olds from grade four or year five completing comprehension tests. It provides internationally comparative data on how well children read by assessing students’ reading achievement in different countries.

PIRLS tests follow a five-year cycle and Dubai’s scores have risen since its first participation in 2011. The study, which is run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) in Amsterdam and Boston College in the United States, tested more than 319,000 students in 50 countries.