Early childhood and schools

OECD develops new tool to help schools improve


03/04/2013 – The OECD has developed a new tool to help individual schools benchmark their students’ proficiency in reading, mathematics and science against the world’s top education systems. It will also give educators an insight into the learning environments at schools so they can consider ways to improve student learning.

The pilot trial of this project, called in the United States the OECD Test for Schools, involved more than 7,000 15-year-old students in the U.S. across 105 schools in 22 states. The schools in the pilot were invited to participate based on interest; they were not meant to be a nationally representative sample of schools.

Speaking at a workshop in Washington D.C., Andreas Schleicher, Advisor to the Secretary-General of the OECD on Education Policy and Deputy Director for Education and Skills, said: “In a global economy, the benchmark for educational success is no longer progress by state standards alone, but the best performing education systems internationally. With this new OECD Test, schools now have the tools to see themselves in the light of what the world’s educational leaders show can be achieved.”

The OECD Test for Schools is based on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted every three years involving over 70 countries and economies around the world. The new test enables individual schools to take the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA) to see how they compare internationally.

As a benchmarking tool, the following principles should guide the use of the OECD Test for Schools:

  • International benchmarking supported by the school assessment should be seen as a process. The information on students’ achievement, their engagement, and the teaching and learning environment at participating schools should stimulate further reflection and discussion among school staff and local educational authorities.
  • In the future, the OECD Test for Schools is expected to provide important peer-to-peer learning opportunities – locally, nationally and internationally – as well as the opportunity to share good practices to help identify “what works” in order to improve and make useful change.
  • The assessment should be considered a tool for school improvement, not a tool for developing rankings or league tables.

In the United States, schools can begin to plan their use of the test starting in September of 2013 (e.g. for the 2013–14 academic year) with the testing service providers that are accredited for this purpose. Schools and districts in the United States that are interested in the assessment and in signing up should visit:

In addition to the United States, schools from both Canada and the United Kingdom participated in the pilot. The OECD is engaging further with countries such as the United Kingdom and Spain to explore making the assessment available, and to identify the appropriate governance models and conditions.

The OECD Test for Schools provides descriptive information and analysis on the skills and creative application of knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, and science, comparable to existing PISA scales (when administered under appropriate conditions). The assessment also collects contextual information from students and schools in order to report on the learning environment within schools and in classrooms, teacher-student relations and students’ attitudes towards and engagement in learning. The OECD Test for Schools and the main PISA studies are different assessments, however, and should not be confused. PISA provides participating countries with national and, in some cases, sub-national estimates of student performance. The United States has participated in PISA since the first cycle in 2000 and results from the 2012 cycle will be published on 3 December 2013.

More information on the assessment is available at

For further information or comment, journalists should contact Andreas Schleicher or Alejandro Gomez Palma of the OECD’s Education and Skills directorate or Spencer Wilson of the OECD’s Media division (+ 33 1 45 24 81 18).



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