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Digest of Education Statistics: 2006
Digest of Education Statistics: 2006

NCES 2007-017
July 2007

Appendix A.5. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Education at a Glance

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) publishes analyses of national policies and survey data in education, training, and economics in about 30 countries. The countries surveyed are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition to these OECD countries, a number of other countries are participating in the related World Education Indicators (WEI), a joint project sponsored by the OECD and UNESCO. These countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.

To highlight current education issues and create a set of comparative education indicators that represent key features of education systems, OECD initiated the International Education Indicators Project (INES) and charged the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) with developing the cross-national indicators for it. The development of these indicators involved representatives of the OECD countries and the OECD Secretariat. Improvements in data quality and comparability among OECD countries have resulted from the country-to-country interaction sponsored through the INES and WEI projects. The most recent publication in this series is Education at a Glance, OECD Indicators, 2006.

Documentation for the enrollment, degree, staff, and finance data appearing in Education at a Glance, OECD Indicators has been published in the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics: Concepts, Standards, Definitions and Classifications. This publication provides countries with specific guidance on how to prepare information for OECD education surveys. Chapter 6 of the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics contains a discussion of data quality issues.

Further information on INES may be obtained from

Andreas Schleicher
Indicators & Analysis Division
OECD Directorate for Education
2, rue Andre–Pascal
75775 Paris CEDEX 16


Program for International Student Assessment

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of international assessments that focus on 15-year-olds' capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. PISA also includes measures of general, or cross-curricular, competencies such as learning strategies. PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of mandatory schooling. PISA is organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries, and was administered for the first time in 2000, when 32 countries participated. In 2003, 42 countries took part in the assessment.

PISA is a 2-hour-long paper-and-pencil exam. Assessment items include a combination of multiple-choice and open-ended questions, which require students to come up with their own response. PISA scores are reported on a scale with a mean score of 500 and a standard deviation of 100.

PISA is implemented on a 3-year cycle that began in 2000. Each PISA assessment cycle focuses on one subject in particular, although all three subjects are assessed every 3 years. In the first cycle, PISA 2000, reading literacy was the major focus, occupying roughly two-thirds of assessment time. For 2003, PISA focused on mathematics literacy as well as the ability of students to solve problems in real-life settings. In 2006, PISA focused on science literacy.

The intent of PISA reporting is to provide an overall description of performance in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy every 3 years, and to provide a more detailed look at each domain in the years when it is the major focus. These cycles will allow countries to compare changes in trends for each of the three subject areas over time.

To implement PISA, each of the participating countries selects a nationally representative sample of 15 year-olds, regardless of grade level. In the United States, nearly 5,500 students from public and nonpublic schools took the PISA 2003 assessment.

In each country, the assessment is translated into the primary language of instruction; in the United States, all materials are written in English.

Further information on PISA may be obtained from

Holly Xie
Early Childhood, International, and Crosscutting Studies Division
International Activities Program
National Center for Education Statistics
1990 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006