PISA for Schools - FAQs
The PISA-based Test for Schools is a voluntary assessment that supports school improvement efforts and benchmarking, based on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Like PISA, it assesses the extent to which 15-year-old students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies.
PISA is an international study that was launched by the OECD in 1997, first administered in 2000 and now covers 80 countries. Every 3 years the PISA survey provides comparative data on 15-year-olds’ performance in reading, mathematics and science. In addition, each cycle explores a distinct “innovative domain” such as collaborative problem solving (PISA 2015) and global competence (PISA 2018). The results have informed education policy discussions at the national and global level since its inception.
While PISA is intended to deliver national level results, the PISA-based Test for Schools is designed to deliver school-level results for school improvement and benchmarking purposes. Because both assessments are based on the same framework, the results are comparable, meaning that individual schools benchmark their performance with that of national education systems from around the world.
Given our global, knowledge-based economy, it has become more important than ever before to compare students not only to local or national standards, but also to the performance of the world’s top-performing school systems. There has been growing interest in comparing student performance to international benchmarks, both as a gauge of how prepared students are to participate in a globalised society and as a means of setting targets above and beyond basic proficiency levels or local expectations.
To date, the assessment has been delivered in more than 2 200 schools cumulatively. School leaders and teachers have reported using results to:
OECD-accredited organisations are responsible for the implementation of the assessment. Under the rigorous technical oversight from the OECD, the accredited service providers administer the assessment to schools and, subsequently, perform data analysis and deliver school reports.
Students respond to approximately two hours of test questions in reading, mathematics and science and answer a 30-minute student questionnaire. The testing experience for a student lasts approximately three to three-and-a-half hours, including instructions and break periods.
In addition, school leaders (e.g. principals and directors) of participating schools will be asked to provide information on their school by filling out a questionnaire.
Following the test results, school report is delivered to schools in either printed and/or in electronic format. To be eligible to receive a school report, schools must meet minimum requirements in terms of students tested:
Schools which take part in the PISA-based Test for Schools are provided with a comprehensive report detailing their school’s performance measured against national results from around the world. School networks and governments can select the countries to which they wish to be compared, based on common challenges or goals. The data collected, and the school reports generated as a result of the assessment, belong to each school, which decides to what extent the data can be reported by the OECD. Schools are encouraged to share and discuss their results with teachers, staff, students and parents to foster deeper understanding of the overall performance of their school as a basis for future action.
The PISA-based Test for Schools and its results are not meant to be interpreted or used as school rankings or for “league tables”. The PISA-based Test for Schools does not provide for student level performance reporting and is designed principally to support school improvement efforts.
The OECD accredits professional assessment bodies to act as national service providers for the PISA-based Test for Schools in each country. They are obliged to adhere to the provisions set out in the OECD Technical Report and General Guidelines for the Availability and Use of the PISA-based Test for Schools.
The General Guidelines for the Availability and Use of the PISA-based Test for Schools set forward clear principles intended to guide the use of the assessment as a tool for improvement and informed discussions. Where the Guidelines are not respected, the OECD reserves the right to withhold its approval of a school report and the use of the OECD logo.
Once the validation study in a given country is complete, the test can be delivered “on-demand”. That is to say, schools can choose to administer the test at their desired frequency and up to once per school year.
There are two main components to the overall cost of taking part in the PISA for Schools project:
The cost of participation for countries and school networks is determined as follows:
The development and maintenance of the PISA-based Test for Schools has been, and will continue to be, funded through Voluntary Contributions (VCs).
Looking ahead, the PISA for Schools project aims to:
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