PISA for Development


PISA for development and copyrightBackground

The United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established in 2000/1 and consist of eight development objectives to be achieved by 2015. It is widely agreed that the MDGs have been effective in mobilising worldwide awareness, leveraging resources, guiding global development efforts and increasing accountability. It is also impressive how close the world will get to most of the MDGs by 2015. However, there is need for a successor framework once the MDGs expire in 2015 to keep the momentum built to date. The OECD played a pivotal role in defining the MDGs. With two years to go, the OECD is increasing its efforts to support the achievement of the MDGs, and at the same time thinking about how it can help the UN in developing a new agenda and framework post-2015.

The OECD has a number of areas of expertise which could support the UN-led processes shaping the post-2015 agenda and framework. One of these is to support the use of international measures of educational success – particularly focusing on learning - through its PISA for Development initiative.

Aims and approach

PISA for Development aims to increase developing countries’ use of PISA assessments for monitoring progress towards nationally-set targets for improvement, for the analysis of factors associated with student learning outcomes, particularly for poor and marginalised populations, for institutional capacity-building and for tracking international educational targets in the post-2015 framework being developed within the UN’s thematic consultations.

It will do this using enhanced PISA survey instruments that are more relevant for the contexts found in developing countries but which produce scores that are on the same scales as the main PISA assessment.

The pilot project will also develop an approach and methodology for including out of school children in the surveys. The pilot projects results will be obtained over a 36 month period through a three-way partnership involving five to seven countries from the developing world, concerned development partners (DAC members plus the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF and other UN bodies and regional organisations) and the OECD.

Countries participating in PISA: Helping to set the baseline for global education goals

The baseline for an education goal could potentially be set through the increased numbers of developing countries participating in PISA, for the 2015 cycle and beyond.

Significant advantages would include:

  • A single reference against which to rigorously gauge the degree of progress made towards targets for educational quality and equity.
  • A comparable and robust measure of progress to allow all countries – regardless of their starting point – to establish themselves on an improvement trajectory to achieve targets referenced to common international goals.
  • Credible and comparable results: PISA requires participating countries to follow common technical, institutional and administrative standards for the assessment.
  • An opportunity to help build institutional capacity. Countries are responsible for overseeing PISA implementation; therefore, participation in PISA can also drive improvements in institutions. This capacity building could be implemented directly with development partners in a way that creates spill-over benefits to other parts of the educational sector

PISA for Development and education-related post-2015 goals

The results from the PISA for Development pilot project will contribute to the OECD’s support of education-related post-2015 goals that retain a focus on access and equity at primary and secondary education levels, whilst incorporating a meaningful focus on learning.


27 May 2014 - Meeting of the PISA for
Development International Advisory Group.



On behalf of OECD, Anthony Rottier signs the Participation Agreement with Ecuador for PISA for Development with Harvey Spencer Sanchez Restrepo, Executive Director, National Institute for Educational Evaluation (INEVAL), Ecuador. Ecuador is the first country to sign a Participation Agreement with OECD for the project which aims to enhance PISA’s instruments to make these more relevant for developing countries. In the next few weeks the OECD plans to sign similar agreements with Guatemala, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia. There are also plans to sign agreements with Cambodia and Rwanda in the future.

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Techical Meetings


International Advisory Group



For more information contact: Yuri.Belfali@oecd.org, Michael.Ward@oecd.org or Pablo.Zoido@oecd.org

Download the brochure

Read blogs featuring PISA for Development: World Education Report, NORRAG and OECD Education Today

Also available: OECD Working Paper on PISA in Low and Middle Income Countries by Simone Bloem