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Data Files

Image of the International Data Explorer (IDE) logo.
You can explore the PISA data directly through NCES's online data tool: the International Data Explorer (IDE)

The PISA data collected from each cycle are found in an international database and a U.S. national database. The international database contains all of the information collected through the international PISA instruments. The national database contains additional variables that are unique to the United States, such as students' race and ethnicity. Both the international and national databases come with documentation and example programs for reading in data and conducting analyses. These resources are listed below.

International Data Files and Data Resources
The international PISA database for each data collection cycle can be found in the "What PISA Produces" section of the international PISA website. The resources available include:

  • PISA international database
  • SAS control files
  • SPSS control files
  • international codebooks and data compendia
  • questionnaires
  • data user's guide
  • released items

In addition, the international PISA website lists publications that may be of use to data users, including:

  • PISA data analysis manual (SPSS or SAS)
  • PISA technical report
  • PISA reports

A version of the IDB Analyzer for PISA is available at http://www.iea.nl/data.html.

U.S. Data Files and Data Resources
The U.S. national database for the 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018 administrations of PISA can be found in the Data Products section of the NCES PISA website. For 2000 to 2015, the U.S. database consists of public-use data files with both international variables and U.S.-specific variables. From 2018 onward, the U.S. data files contain only U.S.-specific variables and variables to be used for merging with datasets that contain all of the international variables (available at the PISA OECD website). For some data collection cycles, a U.S. restricted-use database is also available. Restricted-use data files contain more detailed information than the public-use data files. The resources available include:

  • U.S. PISA database
  • SAS control files
  • SPSS control files
  • Codebooks
  • U.S. versions of the international questionnaires
  • Data user's guide

In the 2012 and 2015 cycles, several U.S. states and territories—Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Puerto Rico—participated in PISA. The PISA data collected for these subnational education systems are available in the International Data Explorer (http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/international/ide/) and are also available from NCES as restricted-use data files (see the listings under "Data Products" at http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/publications.asp).

Why are state PISA data considered restricted-use? NCES is committed to both providing the public and researchers with data and statistics on the performance of U.S. students. This commitment to transparency and the public availability of information is core to NCES’s mission. At the same time, NCES is responsible for protecting the confidentiality of individually identifiable information contained in the PISA state data files, which include demographic and socioeconomic information about students (e.g., gender, birth month and year, parents’ occupation and education level), responses to questions about in-school and out-of-school experiences, response to survey and test questions, and information about students’ performance on PISA. Thus, NCES must balance the interests of both transparency and confidentiality.

Because of the increased risks of derivative disclosure of individually identifiable information about students when that information is combined with student and/or school questionnaire data—downloadable state PISA data files (including background questionnaire data) are no longer available to the general public, but only as restricted-use data files. NCES restricted-use data license holders may access these files in accordance with NCES confidentiality procedures (to find out more here about how to apply for a license, see: http://nces.ed.gov/statprog/instruct.asp).

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