How literate are we? A report on the IEA Reading Literacy Study conducted in Trinidad and Tobago, 1989-1992



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Ministry of Education


The national sample for the International Organization for the Evaluation of Reading Achievement (IEA) Literacy Survey comprised 3,027 Standard 3 and 3,684 Form 3 students, as well as 248 teachers and 181 principals from primary schools, and 208 teachers and 93 principals from secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Participating schools included government, government-assisted, and private schools. Schools were required to respond to test items based on narrative, expository, and document materials with which they were provided, as well as to questionnaire items that elicited information on their reading behaviours and practices at home and school. Teachers responded to questionnaire items that elicited information on their educational background and current practices in the teaching of reading and English, while principals provided information of educational background experiences and practices. Results of the data analysis indicated that: 1) mean scores for 14-year-olds were consistently higher than those for 9-year-olds; 2) at both primary and secondary levels, students in government-assisted schools performed better than those in government schools, while private schools performed the best at primary level and the worst at secondary level; 3) 9-year-olds in Victoria Division and 14-year-olds in St. George East performed the best overall; 4) at both levels, students were better able to process narrative and expository material than to interpret documents: 5) girls performed better than boys at both levels, and female teachers produced better results; and 6) attention to nutrition and the provision of literate-rich environment were more important factors in successful reading performance of primary students than affluence. Recommendations are made for improving reading performance.


Table of Contents


literacy, reading, IEA