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International tests at a glance

back to story, More than a Horse Race: A Guide to International Tests

 

     Table 1
International Tests At a Glance

 Characteristics PIRLS  TIMSS  PISA  ALL 
Test name Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Adult Literacy Skills and Lifeskills Survey (ALL)
Administered by International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), an independent organization of the education and research institutions in IEA’s member nations International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), an independent organization of the education and research institutions in IEA’s member nations The Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of more than 30 like-minded countries that are committed to a market economy and a pluralistic democracy Coordinated by Statistics Canada, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Education Testing Service (ETS).
No. countries participating 35 countries participated in 2001 and 41 in 2006 Over 40 countries 43 countries in 2000, 41 countries in 2003, and 58 countries in 2006 6 countries
Frequency Every 5 years since 2001 Every 4 years since 1995 Every 3 years since 2000 Approximately every 10 years since 2003
Population assessed Students in their 4th year of formal schooling (not including pre-school), typically the 4th grade.

4th and 8th Graders (12th Grade to be assessed in 2008)

8th graders only in 1999

15 year-olds Adults 16-65 years-old
Subjects assessed  Reading Literacy Math and Science Reading Literacy, Mathematics Literacy, and Science Literacy. Each cycle a different subject is a major focus. Literacy and numeracy skills
Skills measured Reading for literary experience: Students’ ability to understand language usage and to comprehend the plot of fictional stories.
Reading for Information: How well students understand information presented in a factual text
Math and science concepts students learned in school How well students near the end of compulsory education are prepared for life beyond the classroom. Students must demonstrate how they can apply knowledge and skills in real-life contexts in reading, mathematics, and science by assessing the process, the understanding of concepts, and the ability to function in various situations within each topic. If adults had the knowledge and skills needed in life and at workplace.  
Types of items Each student reads two passages typically accompanied by 12 questions, of which half are multiple-choice items and the other half are constructed-response items. Between one-third and two-fifth are constructed response questions with the remaining questions being multiple-choice. Mostly constructed response with some multiple-choice questions Mostly constructed response with some close-response questions
Developed and validated by A group of distinguished international reading scholars construct the reading framework and endorse the final reading assessment. Test items are provided by and reviewed by each country to minimize the chances of an item being biased towards a specific country or group of students. Experts in mathematics and science education, assessment, and curriculum from around the world. Extensive field testing is utilized to minimize item biased towards any countries or groups of students. International experts and the PISA Consortium test developers. The assessment items are reviewed by representatives of each country for any possible cultural bias and for relevance to PISA’s goals  International experts.
Scores reported Average overall scores and subject subscale (i.e., literary and informational) scores by country as well as the percent of students in each country that scored at each of four benchmarks: The Top 10% Benchmark, The Upper Quartile Benchmark, The Median Benchmark, and The Lower Quartile Benchmark Average overall and subject subscale scores by country as well as the percent of students in each country that scored at each of four Achievement Levels: Advanced, High, Intermediate, Basic Average overall and subject subscale scores by country. The average score determines the achievement levels typically ranging from Level 1 to 5 with Level 5 being the highest. For each subject, PISA reports the percentage of students scoring Below Level 1. PISA declares the average score in the Below Level 1 range are too low to determine a proficiency level.
Average overall and subject subscale scores by country as well as the percent of students in each country that scored at each of five Achievement Levels that range from one–five with Level 1 the lowest level of achievement and Level 5 the highest.
Other data collected Responses from questionnaires distributed to students, teachers, and principals that provide a context for the performance scores focusing on such topics as student attitudes and beliefs, class size and organization, instructional practices, and other data.  Responses from questionnaires distributed to students, teachers, and principals that provide a context for the performance scores focusing on such topics as attitudes and beliefs, class size and organization, instructional practices, and other data. Information on the characteristics of students and their schools through questionnaires distributed to students and principals with the purpose of identifying social, cultural, economic, and educational factors associated with student performance.  Questionnaires are given to provide general background, such as age, and demographic information on each participant The questionnaires asked respondents about their educational attainment, literacy practices at home and at work, labor force information, information communication technology uses, adult education participation, and literacy self-assessment.



This summary is based on a document written by Jim Hull, policy analyst, Center for Public Education.

Posted: January 17, 2007

©2007 Center for Public Education
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