About PISA


What does the PISA study involve?

PISA assesses the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science and is developed jointly by member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The PISA study has a three year cycle, focusing in turn on reading, maths and science. The main focus in PISA 2018 is reading, with some questions assessing maths and science. The PISA study in 2018 will be wholly computer based.

In order to help us understand how different contexts may affect the results of the PISA test, pupils and headteachers are also asked to complete questionnaires about themselves and their school.

The teaching unions in Northern Ireland recognise the importance of PISA and are in full support of the study. Click here for more information about union endorsement.

PISA 2018 timeline

From March to August 2017, pupils from the UK and from around 80 countries across the world took part in the PISA field trial. Once the field trial was completed and pupil responses were marked, the data collected was analysed. The international research team selected the questions which worked best internationally, to provide the most accurate and robust information about what pupils can do, to understand what pupils think about themselves and their schools, and to gather information on teaching practices in each country. The questions that met these criteria have been taken forward to the main study.

From February 2018 – schools selected to take part in the main study were contacted by NFER. We will support schools throughout the main study to ensure that participation is a rewarding experience for teachers and pupils.

From March 2018 – pupils across the world will be taking part in the PISA 2018 main study.

October and November 2018 – pupils in the UK take part in the PISA 2018 main study.

From December 2018 to December 2019 international researchers collate and analyse the data from all participating countries and prepare reports on the results.

December 2019 – the OECD publishes its international report about all countries. National reports for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are published by NFER and/or the UK national governments and devolved administrations. These reports include trends over time and international comparisons of findings in UK countries in the context of current education policy in each country. The contextual background information is particularly valuable to governments and researchers and makes PISA different from many other sources of comparison used by governments in the UK and around the world.

How does PISA work?

PISA - Measuring student success around the world