Education & Literacy
Westat has been at the forefront of international student assessment and literacy research since the early 1990s. We conduct many of the leading international education studies and international adult literacy assessments.
All of the studies listed here were sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with Westat being the prime contractor for the U.S. data collection for all except one round of TIMSS in 2007 and two rounds of PISA in 2006 and 2009.
- Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
- Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
- Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
- Civics Education Study (CivEd)
- International Reading Literacy Study
- Adult Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL)
- Programme for the International Assessments of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
Typical samples for the school studies range in size from 5,000 to 12,000 pupils in public and private schools at both elementary and secondary levels. In each case, Westat and/or subcontractors conduct the sampling, data collection, assessment scoring, preliminary data processing, analysis, and reporting. The adult literacy studies are the largest international assessments managed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The data brought in for these studies are staggering. In the current cycle of TIMSS, for example, more than 60 countries are participating, with over half a million students involved.
In each of the five PISA cycles from 2000 to 2012, as part of the consortium led by the Australian Council for Educational Research, Westat has also taken a leading role in the following:
- Selecting school samples for each country (with approximately 65 countries participating in 2012)
- Preparing the school and student sampling manuals for each cycle
- Preparing sample weights for all the school and student samples
- Adjudicating whether the data from individual countries meet the PISA standards
- Preparing reports on population coverage and response rates, and sections of the project technical report
PIAAC (2009-17) will measure adult literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments in more than 30 countries, including the United States. For the OECD, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) has formed a consortium of institutions from Europe and North America to develop, implement, and report PIAAC. As a member of the PIAAC consortium, Westat is responsible for developing the processes, procedures, and technical standards and guidelines for sampling and data collection; international training guidelines and manuals for field operations; and sampling, weighting, and survey operations reports.
In addition to being a member of the PIAAC international consortium, Westat is responsible for the U.S. component of PIAAC, sponsored by NCES. Westat carried out the field test (2010) and the main study (2011) of PIAAC in the United States. During the main study, over 5,000 study participants were sampled and completed the interview and assessment.
Westat will also complete the PIAAC National Supplement data collection during 2013-14 in which an additional sample of 3,600 young adults, older adults, and unemployed adults from selected households will be sampled, interviewed, and assessed. The National Supplement will also include a sample of 1,200 additional participants selected from prisons.
Data from the PIAAC Main Study and the National Supplement will be combined to create a U.S. national first-look report to look at trends both within the United States and to be compared with the other countries that participated in the international PIAAC.