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Department of Education

Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA)

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2021

Pearson, in collaboration with the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA), has been awarded the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2021 contract by the Department for Education to operate as the National Centre for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In total, around 90 countries and economies are expected to participate in PISA 2021, an international study which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by measuring the knowledge and skills of students aged 15 years in reading, mathematics and science. The focus area in this PISA cycle will be mathematics.

Pearson will be the national Centre for PISA 2021, meaning that it will be responsible for the implementation of the study in over 450 schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Associate Professor Grace Grima, Director of Research at Pearson, will lead as the National Programme Manager. OUCEA will be responsible for the data analysis, writing of the national reports, and the dissemination of the PISA 2021 results, under the leadership of Professor Therese N. Hopfenbeck, and Associate Professor Joshua McGrane.

What is PISA?

PISA is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, and PISA 2021 is the eighth cycle of it. Every three years, PISA tests what 15-year-olds are able to do in reading, mathematics and science. The tests are designed to capture how students master certain skills such as reading strategies, problem solving in mathematics and critical reading in science, skills that are important beyond the classroom. Results of the tests are published one year after students sit them, and presented internationally both through OECD’s reports and national reports in participating countries. In addition to the PISA assessments, students respond to a student questionnaire providing information about their home background, language use, parents and caregivers, approaches to learning and interest in the different subjects. Some countries also choose to administer additional questionnaires to students, parents and caregivers, and/or class teachers.

PISA21 team in Oxford

Research Advisory Board

Country Experts

PISA for Parents/Caretakers and Students

The Department for Education has appointed OUCEA and Pearson in partnership to administer PISA 21 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

PISA measures what 15 year olds are able to do at the end of their compulsory schooling in mathematics, science. The test questions do not measure memorization of facts, but rather demand that students draw on knowledge and real-world problem solving skills.

Students sit for a test, before responding to a questionnaire asking about their motivation for school, their homes, parents, interests, and study behaviour and similar.

The purpose of the study is to provide internationally comparative data on how well students in different countries perform in mathematics, reading and science. Each country’s results are presented in a national report and compared to international results.

The PISA National Centre adheres strictly to the Data Protection Act (INSERT LINK). Individual pupils, teachers and schools will not be identified in any report or publication released by the Department for Education or its partners.

In 2019, OECD published a policy brief explaining some results from PISA on parents knowledge of their child’s school friends. The brief can be read here:

You can also watch a short video explaining the PISA study here:


Examples of previous questionnaires have been published here:

Pisa 2018

Examples of PISA test items can be seen here:

Science (Explanation)


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