Today, effective online reading is an imperative. At work, at home, and for school, the Internet has become the primary source for obtaining information. Further, around the world, reading curricula are increasingly emphasizing the importance of online reading. For the new era of online reading, IEA has introduced ePIRLS—a forward-thinking computer-based extension to PIRLS in 2016. ePIRLS provides an opportunity for countries to understand how well their fourth grade students read, comprehend, interpret, and critique online information.
Central to ePIRLS’s assessment design is presenting students with engaging school-based research projects, or tasks, in an environment that looks and feels like the real Internet. Staff at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center and the IEA DPC have been steadily working to develop the content and software functionality of this innovative assessment. The resulting ePIRLS program enables students to navigate through multiple websites and pages. As students read texts and view images and animations, a teacher avatar prompts them with directives and comprehension questions.