Every three years, a sample of Australian students are chosen to participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which is an ongoing part of Australia's National Assessment Program (NAP).
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What is PISA?
PISA is an international assessment administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that aims to assess how well 15-year-old students can apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life problems and situations. It is not a test of how well students understand the Australian Curriculum.
Why does Australia participate in PISA?
PISA is part of the National Assessment Program, which is used to monitor and report on student achievement in a comparable and consistent way.
By participating in PISA, schools and students are contributing to an important 'health check' on the performance of Australia's education system in key learning areas and in 21st century skills like collaboration and problem-solving. Participating in PISA also provides data that shows how equitable the Australian schooling system is at the national and state and territory levels.
Results from international assessments such as PISA can be used to analyse how not only Australia but other countries' performance changes over time. This, along with information from the background contextual surveys that accompany the tests, allows the Australian Government to identify some of the similarities and differences between education systems that can be used to develop policies aimed at delivering better outcomes for students.
Where are PISA results reported?
About 600,000 students across 79 countries and economies participated in the most recent cycle of PISA, PISA 2018. Data from all cycles of PISA for Australian and all other participating countries are available through the OECD's PISA website.
Australian governments together contract a National Project Manager to administer the test. For PISA 2018 and 2021, the Australian Council for Education Research was appointed. The Australian national report, PISA 2018: Reporting Australia's results, is available for download through its website.
Initial results for the current cycle, PIRLS 2021, will be released at the end of 2022.
How are PISA results reported?
For each cycle of PISA, Australia publishes results in the three main areas tested—reading, mathematical and scientific literacy—at both the national and the state and territory level.
A breakdown of our national results is also provided to show how students in different demographic groups are achieving.
For each of the three main areas tested, the PISA national report shows the results for students who are Indigenous or who come from an immigrant or non-English speaking background. It also compares the performance of students by gender, the school sector they attend (government, Catholic, or Independent), where their school is located (metropolitan, regional or remote), and the socioeconomic background of their families.
All information collected in PISA is de-identified so that no student or school that sits PISA will be identified when Australia's results are publicly reported.