How well do countries prepare students to succeed in the real world?

PISA: Assessing students’ skills for the real world


How well are countries’ education systems preparing children to be successful in their lives as adults? The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international survey designed to find that out. Administered every 3 years, it assesses the skills and knowledge of 15-year-olds around the world. It also collects information from educators on their teaching practices, curriculum goals, and more.

Westat has been involved with PISA since 1998 and helped the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with the U.S. component of the 2018 survey.


Westat is responsible for

  • Overall project management
  • Sample selection
  • Instrument adaptation
  • Gaining participation of schools, teachers, and students
  • Hiring, training, and supervising test administrators
  • Data collection
  • Performing a confidentiality analysis of the data
  • Reporting the U.S. results

The student assessment mode is computer-based, and the teacher and school instruments are collected via an online questionnaire.


The results of the U.S. component of PISA, when joined with results from the rest of the world, enable countries to compare performance over time and inform national discussions about education and international competitiveness.


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