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Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to the following questions about TALIS, more FAQs about international assessments are available at

The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is an international large-scale survey of teachers, teaching, and learning environments in schools. Conducted internationally in 2008, 2013, and 2018, TALIS data are based on questionnaire responses from nationally representative samples of teachers and their principals in participating countries and education systems. TALIS's main objective is to provide accurate and relevant international indicators on teachers and teaching, with the goal of helping countries review current conditions and develop informed education policy. TALIS offers an opportunity for teachers and school principals to provide their perspectives on the state of education in their own countries, allowing for a comparative view of teachers and the education systems in which they work.

The United States first participated in 2013, along with 37 other education systems. The most recent round of data collection was in 2018, with 49 education systems participating. U.S. results for the 2018 administration of TALIS are available on the TALIS 2018 U.S. Results page. Full results from all three rounds of TALIS are available on the TALIS OECD website.


TALIS fills in gaps in our knowledge about teachers’ and principals’ working conditions, an area that has been underrepresented in international studies of education. TALIS is unique in that it is the only comparative international education study that collects data on nationally representative samples of teachers. Although teacher questionnaires are included in other international studies—such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)—the data in those studies are representative of the student population that they target, not the national teacher population. The United States also collects nationally representative data on teachers and principals through the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS); however, since this is a national survey, it does not collect any internationally comparative data.


TALIS is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. In the United States, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible for conducting TALIS. NCES conducts this study under authorization in the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (20 U.S. Code, Section 9543).


The core target population in TALIS is ISCED* level 2 (lower secondary) teachers and school principals. ISCED level 2 corresponds to grades 7, 8, and 9 in the United States. Education systems also have the option to survey ISCED level 1 teachers (primary school teachers) and ISCED level 3 teachers (upper secondary teachers). However, the United States and most other education systems participate only at the lower secondary level.

Once a school has been selected, the principal (or head administrator) and a random selection of up to 20 eligible teachers are asked to complete an online questionnaire. At the selected schools, any staff member with instructional responsibilities for grade 7, 8, and/or 9 students—whether for a whole class or a single student—is eligible to be selected. If a school has fewer than 20 teachers who teach students in grades 7, 8, or 9, all of the teachers are selected. Schools and teachers are randomly selected to ensure that the participating schools and teachers are representative of the variety of schooling available in the country.

* ISCED stands for the International Standard Classification of Education. Details on the ISCED classification system can found at


TALIS asks the principals and sampled teachers to complete an online questionnaire. Paper questionnaires are provided to principals and teachers who request them. TALIS is composed of two questionnaires: one for the school principal and another for teachers. Each questionnaire generally takes 45-60 minutes to complete.

Although the themes in TALIS differ slightly in each administration, both questionnaires generally cover the following topics:

  • teachers' instructional practices and beliefs;
  • school leadership and management;
  • teachers' professional practices;
  • teacher education and initial preparation;
  • teacher feedback and professional development;
  • school climate;
  • job satisfaction (including motivation);
  • teacher human resource measures and stakeholder relations;
  • teacher autonomy and self-efficacy; and
  • diversity.

To view questionnaires from previous TALIS administrations, visit the Questionnaires page.


Survey items for the TALIS questionnaires are developed in a collaborative, international process.

Led by the OECD and its contractors, national representatives from each participating country meet several times throughout a year to develop and refine the survey items. The themes of TALIS (e.g., teacher evaluation and feedback) are based on the policy and research priorities of the participating countries. Based on these priorities, new items are developed and items from previous rounds are reviewed. All items are included in a field trial conducted in every country planning to participate in the main study. The field trial is used to identify items that do not function as designed or that may be inappropriate or do not easily translate into the various national contexts. Following revisions based on the field trial, the final survey instruments are reviewed and approved by the national representatives.

There is an extensive translation verification process.

Each participating country is responsible for translating the survey instruments into their own language or languages, unless the original survey items are in the language of the country. External translation companies independently review each country's translations. Instruments are verified twice, once before the field test and again before the main data collection. Statistical analyses of the item data are then conducted to check for evidence that could indicate a translation problem (such as differences in response patterns across countries).


Procedures for administration are standardized and independently verified.

TALIS is designed, developed, and implemented by international organizations that have extensive experience in large-scale international data collection projects. These coordinating organizations produce a number of manuals that are provided to each country's representative for the administration of the questionnaires. These manuals specify standardized procedures that all countries must follow in all aspects of assessment sampling, preparation, administration, and scoring. Each country organizes its own quality control monitors to observe the survey administration process, and the OECD organizes an independent group of quality control monitors to observe the survey administration process. Instances in which the quality of the data collected cannot be independently verified can lead to the data being omitted from international reports.


Participation in TALIS is entirely voluntary. However, because potential respondents are randomly chosen to represent others like themselves, the participation of each chosen respondent is very important to obtaining accurate results. Although respondents may skip questions they do not feel comfortable answering, NCES ensures the protection of respondents’ privacy and confidentiality and highly encourages them to answer each question to the best of their abilities.


The number of education systems participating in TALIS has differed in each cycle. To conveniently compare these differences, the NCES TALIS website provides a table of all TALIS participating countries and subnational education systems for each of the TALIS years of administration. Please follow this link to view the table.


TALIS survey responses are entirely confidential, and at no time are the names of individual teachers, principals, or schools identified. Responses to the TALIS principal and teacher questionnaires are combined with those from other participating principals and teachers, respectively, across the United States to produce summary statistics and reports. Reports of the findings do not identify participating districts, students, or individual staff. Data provided by schools and staff may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be disclosed, or used, in identifiable form for any other purpose except as required by law (20 U.S.C. §9573 and 6 U.S.C. §151).

TALIS data conform with the following federal regulations and policies: the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 20, § 552a), Privacy Act Regulations (34 CFR Part 5b), the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (20 U.S.C., § 9543), the Computer Security Act of 1987, the NCES Restricted-Use Data Procedures Manual, and the NCES Statistical Standards.

For an example of how TALIS data are reported, visit the TALIS 2018 U.S. Results page.


If you have any questions about TALIS, you can contact Mary Coleman at (202) 245-8382 or

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