For policy-makers in many OECD countries, international comparisons of learning outcomes have become a particularly important tool for assessing the performance of their countries' education systems and the adequacy of their students' preparation for participation in life and work in the 21st century.
In response to growing demand for international comparisons of educational outcomes, the OECD has launched the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA represents a new commitment by the governments of OECD countries to monitoring the outcomes of education systems in terms of student achievement regularly within an internationally agreed framework. PISA aims at providing a new basis for policy dialogue and for collaboration in defining and operationalising educational goals in innovative ways that reflect judgements about the skills that are relevant to adult life. It provides inputs for standard-setting and evaluation; insights into the factors which contribute to the development of competencies, and into similarities and differences between countries in the way in which these factors operate; and a better understanding of the causes and consequences of observed skill gaps. By supporting a shift in focus from the inputs into education systems and institutions to the outcomes of learning, PISA seeks to assist policy-makers to bring about improvements in schooling and in the preparation of young people for adult life at a time of rapid change and increasing global interdependence.
Results from the PISA 2000 assessment of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy will become available in December 2001 and will fill one of the most important remaining information gaps in the OECD education indicators. PISA results will be incorporated in Education at a Glance from the 2002 edition onwards.