PIRLS 2021. Results of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study

Polish fourth-graders remain among the world leaders in terms of reading achievement. The average score of our students was 549 points. This is one of the highest scores among the 57 countries and 8 additional regions participating in the PIRLS 2021 survey.

Polish students were among the top-performing countries. The Polish survey report was prepared by the PIRLS national survey team at the Educational Research Institute. The survey is organised by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

Polish fourth-graders (along with students from Finland) achieved the best result among the European Union countries participating in the survey (549 points). Significantly better results were obtained - as in the previous edition of the survey - by students from Singapore (587 points), Hong Kong (573 points), Russia (567 points) and England (558 points). 

Results of the PIRLS 2021 survey 

The high score of Polish students is the result of a number of factors, including: the effective work in schools on reading comprehension skills (especially during integrated teaching in the first years of primary school), the cultural context, in which reading is regarded as a valuable practice, parents’ involvement in their children’s learning, as well as the very good subject-specific education and extensive experience of Polish teachers.

The result achieved by Polish fourth-graders in 2021 is lower than in the previous 2016 survey. The main reasons for this phenomenon can be traced to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021. The lack of direct contact with teachers and peers and the introduction of distance learning also affected the learning of the skills tested in the survey in other countries of the world. A decrease in results compared to the previous edition was recorded in most countries.

How are Polish fourth-graders doing in reading?

The results of the study show that Polish schools do a good job of levelling out the gaps in students’ skills in the first stages of learning. The variation in the results of Polish fourth-graders is relatively small, which means that their level of skills is equalised. Our country’s fourth-graders perform well in both literary and applied texts. They perform better in advanced skills, such as interpreting a text, than in simpler skills, such as finding information in a text or drawing direct conclusions. 

In Poland, girls read better than boys. The situation is similar in almost all countries participating in the study. The gap between girls and boys in Poland is large – 20 points, with an average gap of 18 points worldwide.

Polish students have one of the highest levels of self-assessed reading skills. In all countries, including Poland, a high level of self-assessment is associated with higher reading test scores. The results therefore indicate that students consciously perceive themselves as readers.


PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) is an international study of pupils’ achievement in reading comprehension in the fourth year of schooling. Poland has participated in the PIRLS study since 2006 and the study was once again conducted by the Educational Research Institute.

More than 367,000 students from over 12,000 schools in 57 countries and 8 additional cities and regions took part in the PIRLS 2021 survey. Parents, native language teachers and school principals also participated in the survey.