Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students’ knowledge and skills in the areas of reading, mathematics and science. PISA is organized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Within Canada, PISA is coordinated by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).

Rather than testing on facts, PISA focuses on students’ ability to use their knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges. Students complete both multiple-choice and open-ended questions. PISA has also recently incorporated a computer-based assessment with interactive questions.

The first administration of PISA was in 2000, and it takes place every three years. Although each PISA administration includes questions on all three domains (areas of focus), the major domain changes from one administration to the next. The major domain for each year is indicated below in bold: 

72 countries/economies and all ten Canadian provinces participate in PISA. In Canada, over 20 000 students from all ten provinces take part. In B.C., approximately 1 700 students from 74 schools participated. 

Questionnaires are also completed by students and schools to better understand factors that contribute to the success of students schools and education systems.