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About NCES International Comparisons

NCES coordinates the participation of U.S. adults, students, teachers, principals, and schools in various international education studies. This activity entails:

  • Collaborating with international organizations to develop, improve and disseminate comparable international education data; and
  • Coordinating national implementation and data collection of these studies.
Develop, improve, and disseminate comparable international data

NCES cooperates with foreign governments and international organizations to develop and improve comparative education data. Working with representatives from other nations, NCES works to incorporate the research and policy priorities of the United States into existing and future international education studies. Among the organizations that NCES works with are the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), and UNESCO.

As a result of this collaborative work, NCES contributes to and publishes international data on education in various easy-to-use and view formats, such as:

Compilation reports: These reports present a set of education indicators that describes how the U.S. education system compares with those in other countries, most often our major economic competitors such as the Group of 20.

Data tables: Conveniently formatted tables that give a quick overview of topics of interest in international comparative education.

Snapshots: Brief analyses of international education data using the International Data Explorer.

International Data Explorer: an online data analysis tool that allows users to conduct analyses of international education data without the need for specialized software.

NCES also encourages the analysis of international assessment data by researchers through data dissemination and training.

Coordinate U.S. participation in international education studies

NCES coordinates the participation of U.S. adults, students, teachers, principals, and schools in various international education studies as well as the national analysis and reporting of the data collected.

Over the years, there have been a number of international education studies conducted by NCES, some of which have continued and others that have not. Currently, NCES coordinates the U.S. participation in the following international studies:

Study What's surveyed Who's surveyed How Often? What Years? Next Data Collection Year

Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
Literacy skills, Numeracy skills, Problem solving in a technology-rich environment Adults ages 16-65 Every 10 years 2012 2022

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
Reading literacy 4th-graders Every 5 years 2001, 2006, 2011 2016

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Reading literacy, Mathematics literacy, Science literacy 15-year-olds Every 3 years 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015 2018

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
Mathematics, Science 4th-graders, 8th-graders Every 4 years 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 2019
Calculus, Physics 12th-graders Occasionally 1995, 2015 TBD

Teaching  and Learning International Survey (TALIS)
Teachers, teaching, and learning environments Teachers in grades 7, 8, and 9 Every 5 years 2013 2018

More About International Studies

For a more detailed comparison of the international studies in which the United States participates, go to

For a list of countries that currently participate in international studies, go to