Quick Guide to PISA and PIAAC

Quick Guide to PISA and PIAAC

Mary Hamilton and Bob Lingard, contributors to Literacy as Numbers gave a quick overview of PISA and PIAAC to the Cambridge International Education team.

10 key facts about PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)

1. Participants have grown from the 34 OECD countries in 2000 to 65 economies in 2012 
2. It is based on a sample of at least 5,000 15 year olds in each school system
3. It requires application of knowledge and skills and is not-national curriculum based – the assumption is that the tests address what every 15 year old in any nation should know
4. To date the tests have been done on paper but the next round will be computer-based and the OECD is hoping that online will enable results to be issued more quickly
5. Reports are published one year after the tests are taken, usually in November
6. Reporting not only gives scores but students also complete surveys on their socio-economic backgrounds enabling comparisons of quality and equity
7. Longitudinal data is available as the survey has been undertaken over several years
8. The OECD is increasing PISA’s scope – in 2012 financial literacy was added; in 2015 collaborative problem solving has been included
9. The OECD would like to increase scale and have more countries participating
10.“PISA shock” refers to the impact of a country performing less well than expected. The first country to experience “PISA shock” was Germany, when the first report was published in December 2001. Germany had been thought one of the best performing education systems but came out relatively poorly. This led to education becoming a focus of debate in Germany and significant reform. The latest country to experience “PISA shock” has been Finland, falling in the rankings published in 2013

5 key facts about PIAAC (Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies)

1. PIAAC is the new kid on the block in international surveys with first testing in 2012 and 23 countries included in the first report
2. The target population is adults aged 16 to 65 – each country provides a representative sample of at least 5,000
3. The test and background interview are carried out in people’s homes, individually by an interviewer with a laptop
4. It is designed to measure performance in certain skill areas: literacy, numeracy, and problem solving, focusing on tasks adults may encounter in their lives at home, work, or in their community
5. It is a computer-adaptive assessment so respondents receive groups of items targeted to their performance levels

Literacy as Numbers is a co-edited collection of papers, which examines the processes and impact of international assessment. It is edited by Mary Hamilton, Bryan Maddox and Camilla Addey.