Making PISA more relevant to more of the world


By Michael Ward
Senior Policy Analyst, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate

Photo credit: Duangphorn Wiriya/Unsplash

In 2014, we set out to make PISA more relevant and accessible to middle-and-low-income countries. Since launching in 2000, PISA has expanded to include more than 80 participating countries, and is today seen as the global yardstick for educational success. But as more countries joined PISA, it became apparent that the nature and methods of assessment needed to cater to a larger and more diverse set of countries.  

That’s why we launched PISA for Development (PISA-D): an initiative that allows middle-and-low-income countries to use PISA assessments to monitor progress toward national and international targets. Launched with nine participating countries and several partners, PISA-D also supports institutional capacity-building, and allows countries to analyse the results to design evidence-based policies that can improve teaching and learning, and help school systems become more relevant and effective. In reflecting the social context in which students learn and schools operate, PISA-D gives particular attention to poor and marginalised populations.

PISA-D scores will be on the same scales as the main PISA assessment, but the assessment also includes enhanced survey instruments that are more relevant for middle- and low-income countries. PISA-D provides a more granular definition of student performance at the lower end of the PISA scales, for example, and captures a wider range of social and economic contexts. It also incorporates an assessment of those 14-16 year-olds who are no longer in school, or who never had the opportunity to attend school, in order to put them on the radar of public policy. In the long run, PISA-D will also support countries in monitoring their progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goal for education (SDG 4). PISA-D instruments have been mainstreamed into PISA for all participating countries from the 2021 cycle onwards.

PISA-D can be administered both in and outside of school. Eight countries – Bhutan, Cambodia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Senegal and Zambia – participated  in the school-based implementation of PISA-D, which was carried out from 2015 to 2018. Six countries are currently administering the out-of-school assessment: Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Senegal and Zambia.

The school-based results have now been analysed so that PISA-D countries can compare their results to the more than 80 countries that participated in PISA. Ultimately, PISA-D will provide policy makers with data and evidence to determine what they can do to improve their education system, and to ensure that all young people acquire the skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world.

We will release the school-based results on 11 December, so stay tuned! 




PISA for Development Results in Focus and the PISA for Development international database will be released on 11 December at 9:00 AM CET. Seven countries will launch national reports of their school-based assessment results between 11 and 14 December 2018.

Learn more about PISA for Development here.   

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