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Table 1 A comparison of PISA, TIMSS & PIRLS, ICCS, and CLIL ILSA Programs

From: Modern international large-scale assessment in education: an integrative review and mapping of the literature

Administration periods 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018… 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019… (TIMMS)
2001, 2006, 2011, 2016… (PIRLS)
2009, 2016, 2022… 2013, 2018…
Target Populations 15-year-olds
(aged between 15 years and three months, and 16 years and two months at time of assessment)
Grade 4 (though next grade higher when average age of testing is less than 9.5; TIMMS & PIRLS);
Grade 8 (though next grade higher when average age of testing is less than 13.5; TIMMS)2
Grade 8 (though next grade higher when average age of testing is less than 13.5)3 Grade 8 (though next grade higher when average age of testing is less than 13.5)7
Design Doctrine
Human Capital Theory (Sellar & Lingard, 2013) TIMSS:National Curricula Focussed (IEA, 2019a)
PIRLS: “Reading to do” (Stiggins, 1982) and the attainment of societal goals (Mullis & Martin, 2015)
Ecological Systems Theory (Neal & Neal, 2013) Computer and information literacy and computational thinking (IEA, 2019b)
Focal subject areas Scientific, Reading, and Mathematical Literacy every cycle as focal subjects (with collaborative problem solving, problem solving, and financial literacy included intermittently) Mathematics and Science (TIMSS); Reading (PIRLS) Trends in civic knowledge and engagement3 Computer and Information Literacy7
Focus of assessment How well students can apply understanding and skills in science, reading, and mathematics to real-world situations1 How well students have mastered factual and procedural knowledge taught in school mathematics and science curricula (TIMSS)1
Reading comprehension at Grade 4 (PIRLS)
UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), specifically, 4.7.4: “the percentage of students… showing adequate understanding of issues relating to citizenship and sustainability”4 Knowledge of basic software and basic use of computers as information source
Sufficient knowledge and skills of ICT for information gathering and use
Critical thinking while searching for information online7
Most recent sample design Minimum 5250 students from 150 schools6 Minimum of 4,000 students from 150 schools2 Minimum of 3,000 students from 150 schools5 3000 8th Grade students from each country
Most recent number of participating territories/
79 61 (50 countries; and 11 benchmarking entities including different regions, and age/language groups) 24 13
  1. 1Information adapted from Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER, 2020); 2adapted from IEA (2019a, 2019b); 3adapted from IEA (2020); 4adapted from UNESCO (2020); 5IEA (2018); 6OECD (2019); most recent administrative period in bold; 7IEA (2014)