About PISA

What does the PISA study involve?

PISA looks at how well 15-year-olds’ can use the knowledge and skills they have learned in school to meet real-life challenges. The computer-based assessments (of maths, reading and science) and background questionnaires for schools and pupils are developed jointly by member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

PISA normally has a three-year cycle but, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the main study scheduled for 2021 was delayed by one year to become PISA 2022.

The focus of PISA 2022 is maths, with questions also assessing reading and science.

In order to help us understand how different contexts may affect the results of the PISA assessment, pupils and headteachers are asked to complete questionnaires about themselves, their school/college and, in 2022, their experiences during times of remote teaching and learning.

PISA 2022 timeline

March 2020: The PISA field trial began and pupils from 85 countries across the world were scheduled to take part. However, as the global Covid-19 pandemic struck, many countries were unable to complete or even start their data collection.  

In Scotland, the field trial begun in March 2020 could not be completed because of national lockdown and school closures. However, we were able to collect sufficient data to conduct the necessary field trial analysis. Countries unable to collect sufficient data in 2020 were required to conduct a further field trial in 2021. 

Field trial data is processed and analysed by the international research team. They then select the questions which provide the most accurate and robust information internationally. PISA data is used to help us understand what our 15 year-olds can do, what they think about themselves and their schools, and to gather information on teaching practices in each country. The most useful and informative questions are taken forward to the main study.

From February 2022 – schools selected to take part in the main study in Scotland will be contacted by NFER. We will support schools throughout the main study to ensure that participation is a rewarding experience for teachers and pupils. We will also be mindful of the pressures faced by schools in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and will work flexibly to meet any particular requirements at the time.

During 2022 – pupils across the world will be taking part in the PISA 2022 main study.

In Scotland, the study will take place in October and November 2022.

Following the main study data collection, international researchers will collate and analyse the data from all participating countries and prepare reports on the results.

In December 2023:

  • OECD will publish its PISA international report showing the results for all participating countries
  • Scottish Government will publish its PISA report for Scotland.

The reports will include trends over time and international comparisons of findings. 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. This cycle of PISA will be particularly important as it will help add to our understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on education systems worldwide.