International Comparisons and Scenarios

International Comparisons and Scenarios

Today, countries across the world are being compared in various ways—from economic developments to social developments to academic excellence, among many others. Three of the better known and most prominent studies for comparing areas of education are the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA), the Programme in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Click on the following links to learn more about these studies, as well as other international assessments and highlights from top-performing nations:

Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA)

Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS)

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

Other International Assessments

Nations in the Spotlight

(nations highlighted will change from time to time)

Primarily initiated with the objective of providing information about education systems of various nations and workforce readiness, over time, the results of these international assessments have encouraged some competiveness among nations, with increasing interest in using these studies to compare and contrast their systems with others.

Considering the urgent need to improve education systems worldwide, however, it is important to understand that countries are very different from one another in fundamental ways, and the education systems reflect these differences. Despite the common goal of providing equal access to quality education to all students, national and regional contexts and instructional situations can differ dramatically depending on a country's resources, culture, demographics, and education philosophies. Therefore, such studies as PISA, PIRLS, and TIMSS can offer some information about a nation's education system. However, one must take great care about using the data from these studies to make sweeping comparisons or assumptions.

The objective of this section is to:

(1) Generate an understanding of the implications of the international efforts in student assessment
(2) Deliver timely updates on the PISA, PIRLS, and TIMSS results
(3) Provide highlights from high-performing and emerging nations around the world: governance of their education systems and information on various government and non-government programs and initiatives in education.