U.S. fourth graders ranked sixth out of forty-five participating countries on the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which was released in December 2012. The PIRLS measures student performance on a combined reading literacy scale, as well as two subscales of purposes of reading: reading for literary experience and reading to acquire and use information.
The U.S. average score (556) was 16 points higher than its average score on the previous assessment in 2006 and higher than the international average (500). As shown in the table to the right, Hong Kong posted the highest average score (571), followed by the Russian Federation (568) and Finland (568).
Among student subgroups, Asian students posted the highest average score (588), followed by multiracial (578), white (575), Hispanic (532), and black students (522). The results also show that students attending schools where less than 10 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch have an average score of 605, compared to the average score of 520 for schools with a student population with 75 percent or more of these students.
The complete results are available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013010.pdf.