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Introduction to PISA

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of international assessments that measures 15-year-olds’ capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy every 3 years. PISA was first implemented in 2000 and is carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. Each PISA data-collection effort assesses one subject area in depth, even as all three are assessed in each cycle so that participating countries have an ongoing source of achievement data in every subject area (figure 1). In addition to the major subject areas of reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy, PISA also measures general or cross-curricular competencies such as learning strategies. In this second cycle, PISA 2003, mathematics literacy was the subject area assessed in depth, along with the new cross-curricular area of problem solving. Major findings for 2003 in mathematics literacy and problem solving are provided here, as well as brief discussions of student performance in reading literacy and science literacy and changes in performance between 2000 and 2003.

This brochure presents highlights of the U.S. results from PISA 2003 that are based on data from the report International Outcomes of Learning in Mathematics Literacy and Problem Solving: PISA 2003 Results from the US Perspective (U.S. Department of Education 2004). To assist readers in understanding how the PISA 2003 and TIMSS 2003 assessments compare, a brief document (PDF, 232 KB) has been prepared that details the differences and similarities in the two assessments, as well as a comparison of the results in relation to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

SOURCE: Lemke, M., Sen, A., Pahlke, E., Partelow, L., Miller, D., Williams, T., Kastberg, D., Jocelyn, L. (2004). International Outcomes of Learning in Mathematics Literacy and Problem Solving: PISA 2003 Results From the U.S. Perspective. (NCES 2005003). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

A copy of the PISA 2003 Highlights suitable for printing is also available.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
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