PISA: For Schools

What are the benefits of taking part in PISA?

  • It is an opportunity to tell us about your school and to be a part of an important study that informs policy making in Scotland and around the world.
  • It is an opportunity for students to represent Scotland in a large scale global study and gives students assessment experience without the need to prepare in advance.
  • Schools will receive an individualised school feedback report based on students' questionnaire responses. These reports include students’ attitudes, experience and confidence in science, their wellbeing and their experiences of school in general. These can be compared with patterns in the country as a whole and can help build a profile for your school to use as part of your ongoing school evaluation.
  • The school feedback reports will also highlight key international findings.
  • Schools will receive a contribution towards staff cover for carrying out preparatory organisational tasks for running the study.

The contributions of students and teachers are what make PISA a success, and we, the Scottish Government and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are all very grateful to the students and teachers who take part.

What will NFER do to support our school’s participation?

NFER greatly appreciates your contribution to this important study. We promise to support your school throughout the study and work with you to ensure your particular needs and requirements are met.

Our aim is to ensure that the burden on schools is as low as possible. For instance, we will appoint a trained NFER PISA administrator, with teaching experience, to conduct the assessments in your school. They will liaise with your School Coordinator to arrange their visit to your school. They will bring everything to the school, run the session and return all the materials to NFER. In addition, all marking will be done by NFER.

There will be a dedicated support team available to answer any queries during the administration of PISA in your school. You can contact the team by email at [email protected]

What will our school need to do?

A little preparatory work is needed within school. For example, in order to randomly select the students who will take part in your school, we ask your nominated School Coordinator to supply a list of all the 15-year-old students enrolled at your school who fall within a certain birth range.

These students then have an equal chance of being picked. This random selection means the students chosen will give a fair representation of all Scottish students and this is important for an international study such as PISA. If an invited student does not take part, he or she cannot be replaced by another student. Therefore, please help us by encouraging all invited students to attend the PISA assessment session and give the assessment their best effort.

The School Coordinator will also be responsible for identifying rooms that can be used for the study and ensuring the students know where to go on the day. Your nominated IT Coordinator will be asked to run a short test on your school’s computers to ensure the study software will be able to run successfully. We will liaise with the Coordinators in advance to ensure that things run smoothly on the day.

What is involved for our students?

Students will answer questions assessing science, reading, maths and learning in the digital world during a two-hour computer-based assessment. Students will also answer questions on their background, their attitudes and experiences in school and about their experiences of learning in a digital world. This questionnaire should take around 30-40 minutes.

For examples of PISA questions, please visit our Sample Questions page.

The study will take place at school, during normal school hours. There is no need for any special preparation or studying. 

How will NFER look after the data?

NFER takes data protection very seriously and complies with the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Any personal information we collect will be held securely. The information NFER collects is used to compare how well students around the world learn.

No-one will see students’ answers except the researchers involved in the study. No names or anything which can be used to identify an individual or school is shared with the OECD, or included in any reports.

The final data available on the OECD website will be anonymised in order that no school or student can be identified. The education departments in each country may permit other organisations to link PISA data to existing national datasets for the purposes of research only. All data processing will be GDPR compliant.

Please view the PISA 2025 privacy notice for further details about the information we will collect and how we will use it.

What has been learned from earlier PISA studies?

A series of thematic reports, national reports and briefing papers based on the results of previous cycles of PISA can be found on our PISA research page.

For more information on the PISA study, please watch this summary video.