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Digest of Education Statistics: 2011
Digest of Education Statistics: 2011

NCES 2012-001
May 2012

Appendix A.5. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) publishes analyses of national policies and survey data in education, training, and economics in OECD and partner countries. Newer studies include student survey data on financial literacy and on digital literacy.

Education at a Glance (EAG)

To highlight current education issues and create a set of comparative education indicators that represent key features of education systems, OECD initiated the Indicators of Education Systems (INES) project 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 project. The most recent publication in this series is Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators.

The 2011 EAG featured the following 34 OECD countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition to these OECD countries, partner countries from the G-20 were often included, such as Brazil and the Russian Federation.

The OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics: Concepts, Standards, Definitions and Classifications provides countries with specific guidance on how to prepare information for OECD education surveys; facilitates countries' understanding of OECD indicators and their use in policy analysis; and provides a reference for collecting and assimilating educational data. Chapter 7 of the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics contains a discussion of data quality issues. Users should examine footnotes carefully to recognize some of the data limitations.

Further information on international education statistics may be obtained from

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


Program for International Student Assessment

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of international assessments that focuses 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 43 education systems participated. In 2003, 41 education systems participated in the assessment; in 2006, 57 education systems (30 OECD member countries and 27 nonmember countries or education systems) participated; and in 2009, 65 education systems (34 OECD member countries and 31 nonmember countries or education systems) participated. An additional 9 education systems administered PISA 2009 in 2010.

PISA is a 2-hour 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 that ranges from 0 to 1,000, with the OECD mean set at 500 and a standard deviation set at 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. In 2009, PISA focused on reading literacy again.

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 education systems to compare changes in trends for each of the three subject areas over time.

To implement PISA, each of the participating education systems scientifically draws a nationally representative sample of 15-year-olds, regardless of grade level. In the United States, about 5,200 students from 165 public and private schools took the PISA 2009 assessment.

In each education system, 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