Using International Databases to Address Substantive Issues in Education, 24-26 June 2014

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)


PISA is a triennial international survey developed and implemented by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). PISA aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 economies have participated in the assessment.


In 2012, approximately 510,000 students in 65 economies took part, including Ireland, representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally. PISA assesses the knowledge and skills that students have acquired in and out of school and collects background information on both students and schools. With an emphasis on one subject area in each cycle, PISA focuses on reading literacy (2000 and 2009), mathematics literacy (2003 and 2012), science literacy (2006 and 2015). According to the OECD ( “PISA is unique because it develops tests which are not directly linked to the school curriculum. The tests are designed to assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society. The information collected through background questionnaires also provides context which can help analysts interpret the results”.