Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Review of research on reading acquisition and analyses of the main international reading assessment tools (Report, IIEP-UNESCO)

Several international tools are used to conduct surveys and measurements of literacy: for instance, PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement), PISA (Program for International Student Assessment, OECD), and more recently EGRA (Early Grade Reading Assessment, World Bank and Research-Triangle-Institute, RTI). These tools have similar purposes. However, they differ in the methodology that they use and in the abilities that they assess. This is due to the fact that reading is not a unitary construct and testing batteries most often measure only some of the many abilities that should be mastered to become literate, from the mastery of lower level processing (decoding skills) to higher level processing (reading comprehension). In addition, it is not with exactly the same tools that should be assessed the reading abilities of beginning readers (the target population of EGRA, for instance) and of more experienced readers (the target population of PISA, for instance). There are many studies on this topic in countries from OECD, not in developing countries, where designers of reading assessments are faced with specific challenges. Especially, in such countries learning to read is often based on a non-native language (mainly English, French or Spanish). Consequently, familiarity with the language of instruction may differ among individuals assessed, as well as between enumerators, and this might affect the outcome of the assessment In the present review, the outcomes of research literature on reading acquisition are first examined (Part 1). Then, available reading assessments tools and reports are described and appraised (Parts 2-6). Particular attention will be paid to how to best assess reading acquisition in different linguistic contexts, and in the context of developing countries.

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