THE USE OF NATIONAL READING TESTS FOR INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS: RESULTS FROM A FEASIBILITY STUDY
 
Vrignaud, P., INETOP and Martine, R., INRP, France
 
This communication presents the results of a feasibility study aiming at specifying the conditions under which comparative data may be obtained from nationally produced test instruments assessing reading skills, using indigenous, untranslated, original texts deemed by experts to be of comparable levels of difficulty between countries and to be testing the same skills at similar levels of difficulty. The European Network of Policy Makers for the Evaluation of Education Systems decided in 1998 to test the feasibility of this approach. As a result four European Union countries (England, Finland, France and Italy) jointly devised a project. To do this it has been necessary to agree on a reading framework which served as the starting point from which comparable instruments were evolved in each country in the four corresponding languages. Once ready the instruments were applied on a national basis to samples of pupils aged around 15 years in each of the countries participating in the project. Statistical and psychometric analyses were used to assess the extent to which the tests have been measuring comparable skills in each country and across countries and to formulate further hypotheses about necessary changes in the reading framework and other aspects of the proposed methodology. Clearly, this project does not aim at gathering new data per se but at testing the feasibility of constructing reliable and culturally balanced reading indicators in Europe.