PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is an international study which began in the year 2000. It aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in participating countries/economies. Since the year 2000 over 70 countries and economies have participated in PISA.
Every three years, a randomly selected group of fifteen-year-olds take tests in key subjects – reading, mathematics and science - with focus given to one subject in each year of assessment. The focus was reading in 2000, mathematics in 2003, science in 2006 and reading again in 2009. Preparations for the next assessment in 2012 are well under way and planning has begun for the PISA 2015 assessment.
The students and school principals also fill in background questionnaires to provide information on the students' family background and the way their schools are organisaed. In some countries/economies parents fill in a questionnaire as well.
PISA is unique because it develops tests which are not directly linked to the school curriculum and provides context through the background questionnaires which can help analysts interpret the results. The tests are designed to assess how well students, at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and can therefore fully participate in society.
PISA data provides governments with a powerful tool to shape their policy making.
Go to our 'PISA Products' page to find out more: PISA data; analysis of the PISA results; PISA test questions; the organisation of the assessment and the theory behind it.