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U.S. Participation in International Assessments


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  PIRLS TIMSS PISA PIAAC
What year did the study begin? 2001 1995 2000 2011-2012
How often is the study conducted? Every 5 years TIMSS every 4 years. TIMSS Advanced conducted on a varying schedule Every 3 years Every 10 years
When was the most recent data collection? 20111 2015 2015 U.S. Round 1: 201112
U.S. Round 2: 2013-14
How many education systems participated in the most recent study?2 How many are OECD countries?3 45 total
(24 OECD countries)
Grade 4: 48 total (27 OECD countries)
Grade 8: 40 total (16 OECD countries)
Grade 12: 9 total (7 OECD countries)
75 total (34 OECD countries) International Round 14: 23 (22 OECD countries)
International Round 25: 9 (6 OECD countries)
What is the target population? Fourth-graders Fourth- and eighth-graders in TIMSS. Twelfth-graders in TIMSS Advanced. 15-year-olds U.S. Round 1: Adults ages 1665
U.S. Round 26: Adults ages 16-74
How many U.S. participants were in the most recent study? 12,700 Grade 4: 10,100
Grade 8: 10,400
Grade 12: 6,200
5,800 U.S. Round 1: 5,000 household adults
U.S. Round 2: 3,700 household and 1,300 incarcerated adults
What is assessed? Reading literacy Mathematics and science in TIMSS. Advanced mathematics and physics in TIMSS Advanced. Reading, mathematics, and science literacy
(In 2015, collaborative problem solving was also assessed, and financial literacy was administered as an optional assessment.)
Literacy, numeracy, problem solving in technology-rich environments, reading components (components of reading comprehension at lower end of literacy spectrum).
Are descriptions provided of what the participants know and can do at various levels of performance? Yes, international benchmarks at advanced, high, intermediate, and low levels include descriptions of typical knowledge and skills. Yes, for TIMSS there are four international benchmarks (advanced, high, intermediate, and low). Yes, for TIMSS Advanced there are three international benchmarks (advanced, high, and intermediate). These levels include descriptions of typical knowledge and skills. Yes, levels 1b (lowest) through 6 (highest) for reading and 1 (lowest) through 6 (highest) for mathematics and science include descriptions of typical tasks that can be completed. Yes, there are six described levels—below level 1 (lowest) through 5 (highest)—for literacy and numeracy, and four described levels—below level 1 (lowest) through 3 (highest)—for problem solving in technology-rich environments. These levels include descriptions of typical tasks that can be completed.
What scale scores are provided? In reading literacy, overall scale score and subscale scores. In TIMSS, in mathematics and science, overall scale score and subscale scores in each domain. In TIMSS Advanced, in advanced mathematics and physics, overall scale score and subscale scores in each domain. In reading, mathematics, and science literacy, overall scale score in each domain. Subscale scores provided for the major literacy area in the cycle (e.g., mathematics in 2012, science in 2015). In collaborative problem solving in 2015 and financial literacy in 2012 and 2015, scale scores are provided in each domain. In literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments, scale score in each domain.
What are the sources that provide contextual information for the scale scores? There are student, teacher, and school questionnaires, and in most countries (not including the United States) a parent questionnaire; national research coordinators also report on characteristics of national curriculum and selected education policies and practices. In addition, a PIRLS Encyclopedia is produced providing detailed contextual information about the education systems in participating countries. There are student, teacher, and school questionnaires; national research coordinators also report on characteristics of national curriculum and selected education policies and practices. In addition, a TIMSS Encyclopedia is produced providing detailed contextual information about the education systems in participating countries. There are student, school, and teacher questionnaires, and in some countries (not including the United States) a parent questionnaire. There are English and Spanish versions of the participant background questionnaire, including sections on education, training, work experience, health, and personal traits and attitudes.
Are international data available for between-country analyses? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Are national-level data available for within-country analyses, including within-country subgroups? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Are state-level data available? Yes, for Florida in 2011 Yes, for several participating states (Florida in 2015)7 Yes, for several participating states (Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico in 2015) No
Are district-level data available? No Yes, for a few participating districts in 1995 and 19997 No Not applicable
Is it possible to do trend analyses? Yes Yes Yes Literacy and numeracy only
1 Data collection for the 2016 PIRLS expected to be completed in spring 2016.
2 The counts shown do not include benchmarking education systems that may have participated in the assessment (such as Canadian provinces and U.S. states) nor do they include countries that participated but not at the target grade level.
3 There are a total of 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Instances where jurisdictions within an OECD country participated separately are counted here as one OECD country (e.g., England and Northern Ireland as representing the United Kingdom).
4 PIAAC International Round 1 countries, including the United States, participated in 20112012. The Russian Federation participated in the PIAAC International Round 1 but is not counted here due to sampling, response rates, or other procedural problems with the data.
5 PIAAC International Round 2 countries participated in 2014.
6 The second round of U.S. data collection oversampled young, older, and unemployed adults in households. The United States also assessed incarcerated adults in this round of data collection.
7 The TIMSS benchmarking studies provide an opportunity for states and school districts to assess the comparative international standing of their students' achievement. The participating states and districts administered the assessments following the same guidelines for the main TIMSS assessments, but separately from the U.S. national samples. For information about participants in the TIMSS benchmarking studies, visit: http://nces.ed.gov/timss/benchmark.asp.
To learn more about how the international assessments compare with each other and with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), please visit: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/international/assessments.asp.

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