The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of international assessments that focuses on 15-year-olds’ capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies such as problem solving. PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling. PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. Begun in 2000, PISA is administered every 3 years. Each administration includes assessments of all three subjects, but assesses one of the subjects in depth. The most recent administration was in 2009 and focused on reading literacy.
PISA will next be administered in 2012. PISA 2012 will focus on mathematics literacy. Detailed results of 15-year-olds’ performance in mathematics literacy, as well as results in problem-solving and reading and science literacy, will be available.
After the initial release of the NCES PISA 2009 U.S. national report and supplemental tables, some minor changes were made to the report text and to the supplemental tables. View the errata notice for more detail.
B. What PISA assess?
PISA assesses how far students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in society. In all cycles, the domains of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy are covered not merely in terms of mastery of the school curriculum, but in terms of important knowledge and skills needed in adult life.
In the PISA 2003 cycle, an additional domain of problem solving was introduced to continue the examination of cross-curriculum competencies.
Method of Assessment
All students take pencil-and-paper tests, with assessments lasting a total of two hours for each student. For the PISA 2009 assessment, some participating countries/economies have also opted for an assessment of the reading of electronic texts.
Test items are a mixture of multiple-choice items and questions requiring students to construct their own responses. The items are organised in groups based on a passage setting out a real-life situation.
Take an interactive version of the tests here.
You can also consult the publication ‘Take the test’ which lists all the publicly released items from the first three assessments (PISA 2000, 2003 and 2006).
A total of about seven hours of test items is covered, with different students taking different combinations of test items.
Students answer a background questionnaire, which takes 20-30 minutes to complete, providing information about themselves and their homes. School principals are given a 20-minute questionnaire about their schools.
For a more complete description of the methodology behind PISA, see the PISA 2006 Technical Report.
D. Participating countries/economies?
PISA 2000: 43 countries/economies participated in the assessment.
PISA 2003: 41 countries/economies participated in the assessment.
PISA 2006: 57 countries/economies participated in the assessment.
PISA 2009 : 65 countries/economies participatied in the assessment in 2009 (results avaible from 7 December 2010). A further 9 carried out the same assessment in 2010 (results available from December 2011).Click here