B.C.’s Grade 4 students are among the world’s top readers at their grade level and had the highest average score in Canada, according to a just-released international report.

In 2011, 45 countries and nine Canadian provinces took part in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), one of the world’s most influential global assessments of reading literacy among young students. B.C. students performed very well in PIRLS, achieving an average score significantly above both the international and Canadian averages. B.C. was recognized as one of the top seven jurisdictions in the world.

The PIRLS study provides participating countries and jurisdictions with comparative international information on how well students can read after four years of elementary school. Grade 4 was chosen for the study because it marks the transition point at which students already have learned to read and are now using reading to learn. By Grade 4, reading skills become the main tool that enables and supports most other learning in school.

To further strengthen reading skills for young learners in B.C., the Ministry of Education recently appointed Maureen Dockendorf as superintendent of reading. Dockendorf is working with every school district to improve reading skills among young students.

As part of BC’s Education Plan, the ministry has also dedicated an additional $10.7 million to advance early reading strategies and practices for kindergarten-to-Grade 3 students.