1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/03/2009   
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National Project Manager
Australian Council for Educational Research
Telephone (03) 9277 5626
Website www.acer.edu.au


The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) leads the international PISA development project, and conducts the Australian study. PISA assesses 15 year old school students' achievement in literacy, in about 60 countries (both OECD members, and others). It measures how well young people, who are approaching the end of compulsory schooling, can apply their knowledge and skills to real-life problems and situations. PISA allows comparison between countries and over time of the reading, mathematical, and scientific literacy of 15 year olds.

The 2003 PISA included the domain of problem solving, and future PISAs will offer optional modules. These modules will measure learning progress over time, the relationship between instruction and learning outcomes, as well as information and communication technology competencies. In PISA 2009, in addition to the PISA assessment, an electronic assessment of reading will be undertaken in some of the participating countries.

Internationally, ACER leads a consortium of research and educational institutions and eminent individuals to deliver the International PISA project on behalf of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The PISA 2009 project is managed by a consortium of six research organizations: the ACER in Australia; from Belgium, the aSPe at the University of Liege, and the translation specialists, cApStAn Linguistic Quality Control; the Japanese National Institute for Educational Policy Research (www.nier.go.jp); from the USA, Westat Inc.; and in Germany, the Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Förschung (DIPF, at www2.dipf.de).


The scope of the PISA surveys is 15 year olds enrolled in schools. The 2009 Australian PISA sample will include approximately 360 schools and over 14,000 students. As in the 2006 PISA, Indigenous students, the smaller states, and the territories will be over-sampled, so that reliable results will be available for these groups.

Reference Period

Testing occurs in July and August, for every triennial PISA sample.

Frequency of Collection

Every three years. Each PISA has a different major theme: in 2000 it was the reading domain; 2003, mathematics, 2006, science; and it will be reading in 2009. While each PISA assesses all three domains, the major theme receives more detailed assessment.

Method of Collection

PISA uses written tasks answered in schools under independently supervised test conditions. Tests include both multiple-choice items and questions requiring students to construct their own answers. Students also completed background questionnaires about themselves, while principals completed questionnaires about the school.


Release schedule

PISA 2006 results were released in December 2007. PISA 2009 results will be published in December 2010.


PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World. OECD Publications, Paris (4 December 2007).
Exploring Scientific Literacy: How Australia measures up. Sue Thomson and Lisa De Bortoli, 2007, ACER, Camberwell, Vic.
PISA in Brief from Australia's perspective. Sue Thomson and Lisa De Bortoli, 2007, ACER, Camberwell, Vic.


Information is available for participating countries. In Australia data are available at the Australia, state, and territory levels, and for some regions.

Data service

Both Australian and international data, and contact details for further data requests are available through the Australian PISA web pages.

Other information

Extensive information about PISA, both in Australia and its international program, is available from the respective websites of ACER and its partner organisations internationally. The OECD home page for PISA is accessed by searching on "PISA" on the OECD website, www.oecd.org.

The 2006 Australian PISA sample also provided the sample for the next wave of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth project, which was formerly conducted by ACER.


Data items available from PISA collections may vary from cycle to cycle.

Student Characteristics and Family Background

Family structure
Number of siblings
Country of birth
Language spoken at home
Parental education
Parents' years of schooling
International Socio-economic Index of Occupational Status
PISA index of cultural communication
PISA index of social communication
Participation in additional courses
PISA index of activities related to classical culture
PISA index of family wealth
PISA index of home educational resources
PISA index of possessions related to classical culture in the family home

Learning Strategies and Attitudes

PISA index of engagement in reading
PISA index of interest in reading
PISA index of interest in mathematics
PISA index of control strategies
PISA index of memorisation strategies
PISA index of elaboration strategies
PISA index of co-operative learning
PISA index of competitive learning
PISA index of self-concept in reading
PISA index of self-concept in mathematics
PISA index of interest in computers
PISA index of comfort with and perceived ability to use computers
PISA index of time spent on homework

School Policies and Practices

School principals' perceptions of teacher-related factors affecting school climate
School principals' perceptions of teachers' morale and commitment
Staff professional development

PISA index of the use of formal assessments
PISA index of the use of informal assessments
PISA index of school autonomy
PISA index of teacher autonomy
PISA index of the teacher shortage

Classroom Practices

PISA index of teacher support
PISA index of disciplinary climate
PISA index of principals' perceptions of student-related factors affecting school climate
PISA index of achievement pressure
PISA index of teacher-student relations

School Resources and Type of School

School type

Class size
Student-teaching staff ratio
PISA index of the quality of the schools' physical infrastructure
PISA index of the quality of the schools' educational resources
PISA index of the availability of computers
PISA index of the use of school resources
PISA index of hours of schooling per year