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.
Australia's results from PISA help measure our progress against the goal set by Australian governments that 'Australian students excel by international standards'. Our results from PISA are also the key measure for whether Australia is on track to meeting the goal set under the Australian Education Act 2013 (Cth) that the Australian schooling system be considered both high quality and highly equitable by international standards.
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 540,000 students across 72 countries and economies participated in the most recent cycle of PISA, PISA 2015. 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 2015, that was ACER and the Australian national report, PISA 2015: Reporting Australia's results, is available for download through its website.
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 disaggregated - this means that no student or school that sits PISA will be identified when Australia's results are publicly reported.