Two national studies
Two national studies in Sweden now indicate that the reading level among school children has decreased compared to some 10 years ago. Several potential explanations have been suggested, but few have been investigated empirically. Most of them have focused on possible factors inside the school system, while factors outside the school system have not attracted much attention. Comparative analyses of changes in reading literacy levels may shed light on which factors account for the observed changes. Similar patterns of changes in countries with a similar societal development indicates that causes are to be found in more general societal trends, while differences in reading literacy trends between countries with similar societal development indicates that causes should be found within the educational system.
The Swedish participation in the comparative studies of reading literacy conducted by the IEA in 1970, 1991 and 2001 enables such analyses. The first phase of the project aims to create a common reading literacy scale on which the trends can be described and compared between countries. The second phase of the project aims to identify explanatory factors for the observed changes across time, and to compare countries with different trend