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PISA-PIAAC study shows that teenage reading skills are crucial in later life


Teenage reading skills are of great importance. The PISA-PIAAC study suggests that students with good reading skills are likely to continue with and complete higher education.

A comparative study over more than ten years suggests that 15-16-year-old students with good reading skills are more likely to continue with and complete higher education and less likely to receive long-term benefits. The PISA-PIAAC study also underlines that skills which are not actively used are at risk of being weakened or lost entirely.

The study investigates reading results from individuals who were tested in both PISA and PIAAC. PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is an international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. PIAAC (The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) assesses cognitive skills in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments.

As part of the PIAAC survey, which was conducted in 2011/2012, Danish researchers tested 1,881 persons who at the age of 15 or 16 had taken part in the international PISA study in the year 2000. The researchers compared results in reading and considered factors such as unemployment and further education.

The survey found a correlation between reading skills measured in PISA 2000 and reading skills approximately 12 years later. Overall the study indicates that the students with better reading skills at the age of 15-16 tended to maintain their reading skills. Similarly, those with poor reading skills tended to maintain a low reading level 12 years later.

However, notable exceptions were found where persons with poor reading skills had managed to improve these skills. Likewise, some strong readers did not manage to maintain their high level 12 years later. 

The full Danish report on PISA-PIAAC was published in Danish and released on June 19, 2014. The report can be found here (pdf).

A working paper in English on the study will be published on this website in the autumn of 2014. 


  • Claus Jepsen
    Tlf. 3392  5431

  • Anders Rosdahl
    Senior Research Fellow
    The Danish National Centre for Social Research
    Tlf. 3348  0920
    Mobil +45  33480920 (direct)