How to Join PISA






The PISA Programme was launched in 1997 by the OECD with the objective to develop regular, reliable and policy relevant indicators on student achievement. Specifically, it was intended to deliver four types of products: (a) a set of basic indicators that will provide policy makers with a baseline profile of the knowledge, skills and competencies of students in their country;(b) a set of contextual indicators that will provide insight into how such skills relate to important demographic, social, economic and educational variables;(c) trend indicators that will become available because of the on-going, cyclical nature of the data collections; and (d) a knowledge base that will lend itself to further focused policy analysis.

The programme aims to assess knowledge, skills and competencies, embedded in the context of important content domains such as literacy, mathematics and science. The assessment of cross-curriculum competencies relating to both in-school and out-of-school experiences of young adults has therefore been made an integral part of the data strategy. The target population for the assessment is 15-year-olds.

To date there have been six data collections, in 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015. The results can be found on the Data page.


Countries and economies applying now will be eligible for participation in the data collection in 2021 (PISA 2021).



The arrangements and requirements for participation in PISA are stated below using the example of the PISA 2015 assessment.

1)         The international overhead costs for new participants in PISA 2015 is EUR 182 000 payable over four years at EUR 45,500 per year from 2013 to 2015 inclusive;

2)         In addition, the costs for the national implementation of the programme are borne entirely by the participating countries. In particular, all participating countries are required to:

  • i) take responsibility for drawing a representative sample of schools and students in compliance with the internationally agreed target population definitions and sampling procedures. The field trial included a sample of approximately 1,500 students and the main study a sample of approximately 6,000 students;
  • ii) have the authority and resources to recruit schools to participate and to administer the assessment;
  • iii) have the capacity to deal with issues of translation, preparing and spiralling of assessment booklets;
  • iv) have the capacity to process returned booklets and score open-ended test items; and
  • v) contribute to the international overhead costs.

3)         Participating countries need to appoint a National Project Manager (NPM) who carries out the surveys in the national context. The National Project Managers work with the OECD contractor on all issues related to the implementation of PISA in their country. They play an important role not just in the successful implementation of PISA in accordance with OECD quality standards, but also in the development and review of PISA reports and publications. The National Project Manager should have a university degree and previous experience in planning, organising and conducting large-scale surveys. Skills in managing a project with simultaneous multiple tasks, a high level of oral and written communication skills, fluency in English and knowledge of the national education systems are also important. English is the communication language for National Project Managers as well as the language used in the respective written documentation.

All participants are expected to attend the meetings of the National Project Managers. For the PISA 2015 cycle a total of 6 meetings will be held. The meeting schedule for PISA 2015 is shown below. The schedule for future PISA cycles is expected to follow the same pattern.

  • September 2012
  • March 2013
  • February 2014
  • October 2014
  • February 2015
  • October 2015

4)         Additionally, participants should nominate a representative for the PISA Governing Board. This board is represented by all participating countries at senior policy levels and is responsible for specifying the policy priorities and standards for the development of indicators, establishment of the assessment instruments, and the reporting of results. The PGB meets twice a year – March/April and October/November. Participation for PISA partner countries (OECD non-member countries and economies) in this meeting is optional.

5)         Applications to participate in PISA are considered through an official letter informing the OECD of a country/economy’s intention to participate in PISA including confirmation of its intention to contribute to the international overhead costs. Letters should be addressed to: Mr. Andreas Schleicher, Directorate for Education ( The application will then be presented to the PISA Governing Board for its approval and you will be informed soon after of its decision.


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