How do we assess the skills and knowledge of 15-year-olds in developing countries?

PISA for developing countries


The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) assesses the skills and knowledge of 15-year-olds throughout the world. PISA’s goal is to measure how well countries’ education systems are preparing students for adult life. Westat has worked with PISA since 1998.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which sponsors PISA, and a number of partners have launched a 3-year PISA for Development initiative to identify how PISA can best support evidence-based policymaking in emerging and developing economies and contribute to the United Nations-led definition of global learning goals.

Westat is providing support to ETS in developing PISA for Development assessments, which are versions of the PISA assessments modified for children in developing countries.


Westat is developing the sample for the field trial and the main study. This includes

  • Establishing the target population in 7 countries: Cambodia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Senegal, and Zambia
  • Developing and implementing procedures for selecting specific schools and students within that target population
  • Applying Westat sampling software (MyMWestra) to enable high-quality sample selection by participating countries
  • Working closely with the OECD, project managers in each country, and other stakeholders, Westat is developing and implementing survey operations and quality control practices related to test administration
  • Training programs on conducting survey operations for country representatives


PISA will assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society and the global economy. Results from this research will help stakeholders evaluate the educational policies of their country in comparison to others and use the data to help guide their policy decisions for the future. Reforms in educational policies resulting from this research can lead to improved student performance, improved ability to compete competitively in international markets, and, ultimately, lead to a brighter economic future for these countries.


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